Friday, November 11, 2011

The Southern Styles Show Celebrates Fifteen Years Southern Gospel Radio Rewind 2008

                                                                                      The Southern Styles Show Celebrates FifteenYears
By Lorraine Walker

The year was 1993 and Gold City was heard all over the airways with ‘There Rose A
Lamb’, winning the prestigious Singing News Award for Favorite Group. The GMA
Dove Award for Southern Gospel Album of the Year was awarded to Bill and Gloria
Gaither for “Reunion – A Gospel Homecoming Celebration”, the second recording in a
historic series that continues to this day. It was the last year of The Talleys, the trio that
consisted of Debra and Roger and Kirk Talley. 1993 was a year of milestones, including
the start of the syndicated Southern Styles Show with Rob Patz.

The Southern Styles Show began its syndication run on three stations, quickly gaining
ground as another eleven stations picked up the show in one month. In the beginning,
the lively commentary and more progressive-style Southern line-up were not always
understood by some markets. However, the Show quickly caught on, moving to 25
stations in the first three months. By the end of the first year, Southern Styles was playing
on over 60 stations.

Rob Patz, host of the Southern Styles Show, was a newcomer to Southern Gospel in 1993
and comments on his introduction to the music. “The first three stations were a network
of stations that I had worked at,” says Rob. “They had been airing a Southern Gospel
program that had been on the air since 1984. The host retired and I was the next one in
line to take it over. When the producers handed me the show and told me this was what I
was going to play, I said I didn’t know anything about Southern Gospel. They handed me
a stack of Singing News from the previous three years and said, “Go learn!”

Within a few weeks Rob Patz had begun the Southern Styles Show and started his
education in Southern Gospel. He began to host concerts in the area, meet the artists and
learn about the history of the music. The first concerts hosted by Rob included artists
such as Heaven Bound and the Hoppers. “Claude is a wonderful gentleman and this
concert was the first of several concerts we had with the Hoppers. This was the first time
I had met them and I was really impressed.”

Rob is pleased that of the original stations that were the first to host the Southern Styles
Show in the early months, six affiliates are still airing the syndicated program. “These
are people that believed in me long before anyone else did or even before we believed in
what we were doing,” says Rob. “We were still just feeling our way along and these guys
saw a vision of what we were hoping to be. That was amazing.”

The Southern Styles Show began to add other features to the weekly programming that
became a hit with their audience. “After the first year we began to add an interview
segment but this was not a regular part of the Show until about four years ago when
Karen Winternheimer came on board,” says Rob. “Since her arrival, interviews have
become a larger part of the show. But back then, only if there was a big event or a major

concert, would we do interviews to promote the presentation.”

The Martins were the first radio interview that Rob did for the Southern Styles Show. The
trio appeared on the Show following their 1995 Dove Award win for Southern Gospel
Album and Song of the Year. The Show sponsored a “High Tea” celebration at the
National Quartet Convention for several years and the Martins were their musical guests
at the 1995 gathering.

In the fifteen years since the beginning of the program, Rob has noticed some changes
in the music he has been playing. “Southern Gospel has become more progressive-
sounding,” says Rob. Whether that is good or bad, I don’t know. From the start, I was
known as someone who played a lot of progressive music. So in a way, it seems as if the
Industry has come to where I already was, because we were already playing that style of

“That’s not to say I don’t love great traditional music by groups like the Cathedrals,
Florida Boys and the Kingsmen,” Rob continues. “In the 90’s when I started, these
groups were putting out great music. But I also liked artists such as Won By One, Buddy
Mullin’s group Sunday Drive, and the Martins who were all fantastic, more progressive-
sounding groups. I think some of that had to do with my age because I was a young guy
at the time. Not that I’m old now, just not as young as I was then!”

The Southern Styles Show has also changed in fifteen years and Rob feels these changes
have been positive. “We have learned over time what worked and what didn’t,” says
Rob. “Having more interviews in the last few years has been a good thing for the Show.
People want to hear what is going on with their favorite artists.”

“Also, the short segments from our contributing writers have been good additions. People
like John Crenshaw and Sylvia Green, as well as Karen who has the news segment,
have really brought a different feel to the show. All these things make the show feel
more ‘familiar’ for people. They feel they have gotten to know people on the show and
that the show is more their own.”

“We’ve also had some great people on the Show in the last few months. People like Jeff
Steele; a man who has written several number one Southern Gospel songs, but also top
songs in other genres as well. Bryan Hutson from the Kingsmen has been on as well as
Clayton Inman, who has been a friend of mine for many years. Having these people on
the show has really made for some great interviews. Jason Funderburk has been on the
show recently, and Austin’s Bridge, a new group I’m really impressed with.”

“It’s been an exciting time to watch new artists. We have a feature on the show we
call ‘Breakout Artists’, people that our listeners may not have heard of, or are just getting
to know. We’ve had several of those artists on the show over the last few years that have
been really fantastic people. It’s exciting to watch their ministries grow and to sow into
their ministries, by having them on the Show to talk about their music.”
“It’s been a great run,” says Rob. “I’m excited about what is ahead in the next fifteen

years, if the Lord is willing that we are here for another fifteen. I think there are some
great doors opening for the Southern Styles Show.”

The years of growth of the Southern Styles Show have been an educational time for
Rob. “What I have learned the most is to continue to do what God wants you to do,
whether anyone but you and God believe in it or not. That’s sometimes the case when
you are doing radio or any form of media. There are times when you are the only person
that believes in it, other than that you believe that God has sent you to do it. You have to
believe in it and pray about it.”
“The first few years were tough even though we went to a lot of stations quickly. We
were still finding our way. I think with the maturing of the Show in the last few years to
what it is now, we have become more comfortable with what we are doing. I look at this
as what God has for me as my ministry. Like any person that has a career in any field,
you get better the more you hone your craft and you take time to do the small things.”
“It is important in radio to create a picture,” Rob continues. “It isn’t television where
people can see it. I think the thing that I have learned the most is how to paint that picture
for people, how to bring them into my world, and to bring them through audio to visit
with someone like Woody Wright, as if it were the three of us just hanging out and

Rob says that the Southern Styles Show has not yet become as good as it could be. “I will
never fully reach what I want to be because I’m a perfectionist. For me, it’s a continual
striving to get to the next level. I want to be the best interviewer possible and I have
begun to study others who interview to find out why they do what they do. After fifteen
years, I think I am just starting to understand what I’m doing,” Rob laughs. “That’s pretty
sad, but I’m a slow learner I guess!”
After all this time, Rob doesn’t see the Show losing any of its early vitality. “It’s easy
to keep the show fresh because I have a great staff of people who believe in what we’re
doing and great artists that want to do interviews who believe in what they are doing.
What keeps it exciting is the new things and artists we are bringing into the show. Each
show is an hour of someone’s life and it’s filled with artists talking about their new
projects and the new things God is doing in their ministry. I never get tired of it. I’ll be 87
and I’ll still be doing this!”

Some of the major benchmarks for the Show have represented milestones personally for
Rob. Highlights included having fifty stations on the syndication list within the first year
and the airing of the 500th show. At reaching fifteen years of syndication, Rob is thankful
for what God has allowed him to do through the Show. He has had the opportunity to
interview some gifted artists including Gordon Mote, who Rob says has a ‘great heart
and a great sense of humor’. Josh Singletary is another favorite interviewee; an artist who
often joins Rob on his “RobTV” video clips. Rob shares, “We have had many artists on
the show that I respect and that are people that have made a great impact on the industry.”
In an industry such as Southern Gospel, it may seem that the media contributes to
a certain type of hype that detracts from the ministry of the music. However, the
Southern Styles Show continues to be an outreach. “When you are a Christian and
you do anything, whether you are in a ministry per se or not, it is a ministry. It doesn’t

matter whether you are a nurse or a teacher or whatever your job might be. I think that
everywhere you are, and every form of work you can do, there is something that touches
someone’s life. God just asks us to do what we do for Him.”
“For me, at an early age, I felt a real calling to ministry. I didn’t know what it was at first
and it didn’t become clear to me until I began to work in radio. From that point on I knew
this was what I was supposed to do and it really clicked for me. I’ve always tried to inject
that feeling of ministry into the Show.”

Rob continues, “The Southern Styles Show is a vehicle for people to talk about whatever
ministry it is that they have. Even if it is just us having a great time on the air, that
ministers to people. It gives listeners a chance to not think about whatever their problems
are; or even better, they can hear a song that answers their problems, because God is the
Answer. The Lord often uses a song to minister to somebody.”

The Southern Styles Show regularly receives mail from listeners about how the Show
has touched someone’s life. “I got a letter from a young lady from Oklahoma who told
me that she was 14 years old, and she and her mom spend the time listening together
to the Show because they both love Southern Gospel. So that is an hour that they share
“We received a letter from a lady who lives in a retirement center, who is not able to
live on her own anymore. She said she listened to the show because she loved the fact
that there was laughter on the show. She doesn’t hear much laughter in her life. So that
proved to us that what we do is a ministry that touches people’s lives.”

Rob sees this ministry expanding and is excited about what God may have in store for the
Show. “There are a lot of things I would love to do and there is a great future for what
we are doing. I hope that the Southern Styles Show continues to be an active part of the
future of Southern Gospel Music.”

“Our biggest goal is to take Southern Gospel to other audiences. We are on some secular
stations and are able to introduce Southern Gospel to listeners who may not know what it
is. So that is exciting!”

Personally, Rob is looking to the Lord for goals and future plans his radio ministry. As he
works toward the goal of being the best interviewer, he shares his thoughts of who would
be his ‘dream’ interview. “I think it would be interesting to really talk to Mosie Lister.
I’d love to talk to him about how he writes his songs. We’ve never had the opportunity to
have him on the Show, but I’d love to talk to him about the history of Southern Gospel.”

Outside of Southern Gospel, Rob has had a goal for some years to talk to one specific
person. “I have always wanted to have a sports show, and would love to talk to Roger
Staubach, the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in the ‘70’s. I lived in Minnesota and
he threw a touchdown that kept the Vikings out of the Superbowl. He’s a great Christian
man and I would like to ask him why he needed to break a little Minnesota boy’s heart.
He did break my heart and it took several months for it to heal,” Rob laughs. “That would
be the interview I’ve always wanted to do!

September 2008 marks fifteen years of syndication for The Southern Styles Show and
Rob Patz is looking forward to a future filled with new opportunities and ways to expand
his ministry. The opportunities for a show that honors God and serves His people are
endless. The Southern Styles Show hopes to be there for another fifteen years as it grows
together with Southern Gospel Music to reach countless people with the good news of the

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