And Now, After 126 Episodes, I Finally Introduce Myself!

PULSE! Magazine November 1988 issue containing interview with Steve Taylor by Jerry Wilson

Back in the day—1987, to be precise—I became the first and only music journalist covering Christian rock for a “secular” publication. The magazine in question was called PULSE! and its publisher was the Tower Records chain.

I wasn’t there because there were fans of the genre on staff. I was there because they hoped I’d bring advertising dollars from the Christian music industry. Which, though no fault of my own, seldom, if ever, happened. The Christian music industry had no qualms about pitching stories and artists to me in hopes I would cover suggested artists and albums. However, when it came time to put their money where their mouth was, they’d throw it away on glorified vanity house organs like Harvest Rock Syndicate, which reached only the existing fan base. I was out there trying to preach about the band named The Choir while they were content preaching to the choir about the band named The Choir. They hung me out to dry and then complained I wasn’t correctly watering their secret garden.

On the rare occasions when anyone at PULSE! spoke to me, the staff there made it quite plain that I was the rat bastard on board. They had nothing nice to say about my writing and barely, if ever, acknowledged the music itself. Somewhat offputting, but I persevered. I loved the music and artists, so whatever it took to get the word out is what I did.

Despite the open animosity, one day, out of the blue, one of the higher-ups at PULSE! asked me to write a feature story about Steve Taylor. I did so. for the November 1988 issue. Suddenly, the Christian music industry took full notice of me. I had offers to do stories for assorted magazines, write artist bios for new releases, etc. I wrote quite a bit for CCM Magazine and other publications, talking to many of the high-flying artists of the time: Michael W. Smith, Sandi Patti, Steven Curtis Chapman, and others. The only one I never spoke to was Amy Grant, and I had an interview scheduled until her management canceled it because they subsequently booked her for Good Morning America the day I was going to talk to her and said they’d reschedule my interview. I’m still waiting.

Even with the above, I never really fit in. I was too rock-oriented for the labels and too artist-oriented for the publications. In 1994, it all fell apart; the industry and I walked away from one another. Still, I had a good run.

Fast-forward a decade plus. After attending a 2005 concert in Southern California featuring bands such as Undercover, The Choir, Altar Boys, and Crunbächer, the writing bug hit me again. Now free to cover who I wanted how I wanted, I wrote a book featuring interviews with the artists I wanted to do stories on back in the day but seldom had the opportunity to do so. The book took a while, but it finally came together in 2009. I released an updated version in 2019. I also started doing Cephas Hour, a show that plays music by artists who have meant so much to me. It was initially on an Internet radio station; it’s now a stand-alone podcast.

Long story short, I was there. I’m not bragging when I say I was not an insignificant part of the scene. I’ve had artists long after the fact tell me a review I did in PULSE! of one of their records made a massive positive difference in sales, far more than anything in any Christian publications. So, yeah.

On Cephas Hour, I enjoy playing and promoting current independent artists who carry the artistic and spiritual integrity torch in addition to classic songs and artists. With that, back to the music.

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