[Editor’s Note: First published in October 2013 in SGN Scoops magazine.]
The year was 1993 and Gold City was heard all over the airways with â€˜There Rose A Lambâ€™, 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 â€œReunion â€“ A Gospel Homecoming Celebrationâ€, 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. â€œThe first three stations were a network of stations that I had worked at,â€ says Rob. â€œThey 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 didnâ€™t know anything about Southern Gospel. They handed me a stack of Singing News from the previous three years and said, â€œGo learn!â€
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. â€œClaude 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.â€
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. â€œThese are people that believed in me long before anyone else did or even before we believed in what we were doing,â€ says Rob. â€œWe were still just feeling our way along and these guys saw a vision of what we were hoping to be. That was amazing.â€
The Southern Styles Show began to add other features to the weekly programming that became a hit with their audience. â€œAfter the first year we began to add an interview segment but this was not a regular part of the Show until about 2004 when Karen Winternheimer came on board,â€ says Rob. â€œSince that time, interviews have become a larger part of the show. But back then, we would do interviews to promote a presentation only if there was a big event or a major concert.â€
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 â€œHigh Teaâ€ celebration at the National Quartet Convention for several years and the Martins were their musical guests at the 1995 gathering.Â
In the twenty years since the beginning of the program, Rob has noticed some changes in the music he has been playing. â€œSouthern Gospel has become more progressive-sounding,â€ says Rob. â€œWhether that is good or bad, I donâ€™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 music.â€Â
â€œThatâ€™s not to say I donâ€™t love great traditional music by groups like the Cathedrals, Florida Boys and the Kingsmen,â€ Rob continues. â€œIn the 90â€™s when I started, those groups were putting out great music. But I also liked artists such as Won By One, Buddy Mullinâ€™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 Iâ€™m old now, just not as young as I was then!â€
â€œItâ€™s been an exciting time to watch new artists. We have a feature on the show we call â€˜Breakout Artistsâ€™, people that our listeners may not have heard of, or are just getting to know. Weâ€™ve had several of those artists on the show over the last few years that have been really fantastic people. Itâ€™s exciting to watch their ministries grow and to sow into their ministries, by having them on the Show to talk about their music.â€
In 1993, Patz also began Coastal Media Group, which became the umbrella for several media arms, including The Southern Styles Show, SGM Radio website and more recently SGN Scoops digital magazine and Creekside Gospel Music Convention. SGM Radio website was brought online in 2004 to host a Gospel and Country internet radio station as well as a message board and a site for artist interviews, features and devotionals. As interest in the message board wound down, the main site grew in hits and now sees approximately 500,000 hits per month.
In 2009, Patz purchased SGN Scoops and The Diamond Awards from Allen Smith and turned Scoops into one of todayâ€™s most exciting online and fully downloadable free Christian music magazines. The Diamond Awards has become one of the main events at the annual Creekside Gospel Music Convention in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
â€œItâ€™s been a great run,â€ says Rob. â€œIâ€™m excited about what is ahead in the next twenty years, if the Lord is willing that we are still here.â€Â
The years of growth of his different media interests have been an educational time for Rob. â€œWhat 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. Thatâ€™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.â€
â€œI think that lately we have become more comfortable with what we are doing,â€ says Patz. â€œI 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. I will never fully reach what I want to be because Iâ€™m a perfectionist. For me, itâ€™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 twenty years, I think I am just starting to understand what Iâ€™m doing,â€ Rob laughs. â€œThatâ€™s pretty sad, but Iâ€™m a slow learner I guess!â€
Some of the major benchmarks for the Southern Styles 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 â€˜great heart and a great sense of humorâ€™. Josh Singletary is another favorite interviewee; an artist who often joins Rob on his â€œRobTVâ€ video clips. Rob shares, â€œWe have had many artists on the show that I respect and that are people that have made a great impact on the industry.â€
â€œRobTVâ€ began at NQC 2008 and has now morphed into â€œScoops TVâ€, with interviewers from the SGN Scoops writing staff. Scoops TV has hosted many of todayâ€™s top Gospel artists including the Booth Brothers, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Red Roots, The Hoppers, The Whisnants, Triumphant, Tribute, Karen Peck and New River, and many more. The National Quartet Convention has also become a very busy time for the SGM Radio and SGN Scoops staff as many interviews for the print media happen at this time of year.
Rob Patz is grateful for his staff that continue to bring their best gifts to all of the Coastal Media branches. He knows that this is not just a hobby for them. â€œWhen you are a Christian and you do anything, whether you are in a ministry per se or not, it is a ministry. It doesnâ€™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 someoneâ€™s life. God just asks us to do what we do for Him.â€
â€œFor me, at an early age, I felt a real calling to ministry. I didnâ€™t know what it was at first and it didnâ€™t become clear to me until I began to work in media. From that point on I knew this was what I was supposed to do and it really clicked for me. Iâ€™ve always tried to inject that feeling of ministry into the Show and everything Iâ€™ve been a part of through the years.â€
Rob continues, â€œEvery interview with our staff is a vehicle for artists to talk about whatever ministry they have. The radio show, website and magazine give listeners and readers 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.â€Â
Coastal Media regularly receives mail from listeners about how a story, interview or song has touched someoneâ€™s life. â€œI 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 Southern Styles Show because they both love Southern Gospel. So that is an hour that they share together.â€
â€œWe 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 doesnâ€™t hear much laughter in her life. So that proved to us that what we do is a ministry that touches peopleâ€™s lives.â€
Rob sees this ministry expanding and is excited about what God may have in store for him. â€œThere are a lot of things I would love to do and there is a great future for what we are doing. I would like to continue to be an active part of the future of Southern Gospel Music. Our biggest goal is to take Southern Gospel to other audiences. We constantly working on ways to bring our product to new people. So that is exciting!â€
Personally, Rob is looking to the Lord for goals and future plans for his ministry. As he works toward the goal of being a great interviewer, he shares his thoughts of who would be his â€˜dreamâ€™ interview. â€œ I think it would be interesting to really talk to Mosie Lister. Iâ€™d love to talk to him about how he writes his songs. Iâ€™d love to talk to him about the history of Southern Gospel.â€
Outside of Christian music, Rob has had a goal for some years to talk to one specific person. â€œI have always wanted to have a sports show, and would love to talk to Roger Starbuck, the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in the â€˜70â€™s. I lived in Minnesota and he threw a touchdown that kept the Vikings out of the Superbowl. Heâ€™s a great Christian man and I would like to ask him why he needed to break a little Minnesota boyâ€™s heart. He did break my heart and it took several months for it to heal,â€ Rob laughs. â€œThat would be the interview Iâ€™ve always wanted to do!
After 20 years, Rob Patz is looking forward to a future filled with new opportunities and ways to expand his ministry. The opportunities for media outreaches that honor God and serve His people are endless. Patz hopes to be there for another twenty years as his endeavors grow together with Southern Gospel Music to reach countless people with the good news of the Gospel.Â
Happy Anniversary, Rob Patz! From your Gospel music friends….
Rob has been a trusted friend for 20 years. Rob is a spiritual guy with a heart for the gospel first and foremost. I am very proud of Rob Patz…a man from Washington who has never bought me even ONE cup of coffee. â€“ Dr. Jeff Steele, Pastor, Speaker, SGN Scoops Columnist and Member of The Steeles
Rob Patz….someone who really does love gospel music, I appreciate his passion and joy, even in just talking about the music. â€“ Ann Downing, Solo Artist
It was a personal thrill to present the 2011Â “Lou Hildreth Award” to Rob Patz, President, Coastal Media.Â This award is given annually at the Diamond Awards to acknowledge the contribution of a behind-the-scenesÂ individual within the gospel music industry. It is not given to an artist, but to a person who deserves recognition for significant contribution to all facets of gospel music.Â Rob Patz is a graciousÂ leader who works tirelessly and effectively to broaden the influence of the message of gospel music. â€“ Lou Hildreth, Southern Gospel Industry Leader
Rob Patz has been a dear friend for many years. I can remember before ever seeing him face to face we would talk on the phone for hours, talking about Gospel music. He has a love for our music like I do. Rob, I celebrate with you, your 20 years and hope we can celebrate the next 20 years! Â Congratulations my friend with love! â€“ Kelly Nelon Clark, Member of The Nelons
When I think of Rob and his ministry heart, I am reminded of this statement: Gifts and talents can take you to the top, but it is character that keeps you there. Thank you, Rob, for 20 years of faithfulness and being a man of integrity for Jesus Christ. I am so thankful to be a part of SCOOPS and have appreciated your kind and encouraging heart. Congrats on this ministry milestone. The best is yet to come. â€“ Dixie Phillips, Songwriter, SGN Scoops Staff Writer
I have really come to appreciate Rob Patz’ commitment to providing not just great entertainment viaÂ sgnscoops.comÂ online magazine, but also the honest and sincere information that he provides, which his readers have come to enjoy and expect.Â His dedication and commitment to detail only work to strengthen our industry of Southern Gospel Music.Â The stronger Southern Gospel Music is, then the more people are blessed, challenged and inspired by the word of God in song.Â Thanks for everything you do, Rob, and congratulations on your FIRST 20 years!Â God bless you my friend. â€“ Bob Sellers, member of The Kingsmen
I think that Rob has done a great job. I wish him as much success in 20 more if the Lord tarries. â€“ Stephen Widener, Member of Faithful and SGM Radio Staff Writer
Congrats Rob for 20 years in SGM! Yvonne and I appreciate your professionalism, your humor and your dedication to the Artists. However, we are blessed to partner with you in sharing Christ with the World. We’re honored to call you friend. — Bryan and Yvonne Hutson, SGM Radio Writer, Bryan Hutson is a Member of Soulâ€™d Out
Being one of the newer members of the SGN Scoops staff, I haven’t had the pleasure of working with Rob as long as some others, but it has been a pleasure, nonetheless. Rob has a laid-back demeanor and his rapport with members of the Southern Gospel community have helped build SGN Scoops into what it has become. Most importantly, his goal of communicating what is going on with individuals in the Southern Gospel industry â€“ with the ultimate goal of boosting a genre of music with a life-changing message â€“ is why Rob Patz is so influential, well-respected and loved by so many. – Craig Harris, SGN Scoops Writer
I want to congratulate my friend, Rob Patz, on twenty years in Gospel music.Â I greatly admire Rob and his work in various music media platforms. Keep up the great work, Brother. Â Here’s to twenty more! â€“ Channing Eleton, Solo Artist and Pianist
I met Rob for the first time when my sister and I went to Chattanooga TN one summer… so I’ve known him for a few years and am glad he gave me the chance to be a part of SGN Scoops.Â He and his family are driven to share the love of God through gospel music, and I have been blessed to be a part of that vision in a small way. â€“ Joan Walker, SGN Scoops Proofreader
Congratulations Rob!Â Thanks for your dedication and commitment over the last 20 years!Â What you do allows all of us to reach more people than we could have ever imagined!Â — David Staton,Â SGN Scoops writer and artist
Over the past three years I have come to know Rob Patz as a man of character and integrity. He and I have a lot in common as we are both Pastorâ€™s sons. He has a great love of Southern Gospel Music and a desire for the rest of the world to hear this beautiful music. His efforts to promote this music are shown through his work at SGN Scoops which is appreciated by all artists. I pray that his efforts at Creekside Convention are met with much success. I pray that God honors and furthers his desire to spread this wonderful music to the world. I am honored to call Rob Patz my friend. â€“ Dennis Powers, Manager of The Skyline Boys
It has been my honor to know Rob Patz! This industry would be a lot better if it had more men of Faith and Integrity like Rob! Truly a fine example of a true friend and Christian Man! â€“ Ava Kasich, Solo Artist
I am proud to all Rob my friend.Â I don’t believe anyone loves our music more than him and he has done a lot to grow our style of music.Â I think he id truly a leader in everything he does and I look forward to seeing how God uses him the next 20Â years.Â Â â€“ Jonathan Edwards, Member of Faithâ€™s Journey
I am the guy who nicknamed Rob “The Icon” because he was the first to roll out a digital online southern gospel magazine, “SGN Scoops Digital”. Â â€“ Chris Hester, Solo Artist
Rob Patz is a professional.Â When Lorraine Walker asked me some time back if I’d be interested in writing a monthly article—-well, I hesitated. When I read or listen to Robâ€™s blogs or articles, it is very clear to me that I am most certainly not inÂ the sameÂ category by a long shot.Â I find that I can learn so much from Rob.Â He sets the bar very high! â€“ Philip Foster, SGM Radio Staff Writer
Rob is the kind of person who would give you the shoes off of his feet if you had none, buy you a meal if you were hungry, and encourage you if you were downtrodden. He is a people person and he always knows just what to say to brighten your day. I appreciate his leadership, his passion for the Southern Gospel Music industry, and his heart for the Lord. Thank you, Rob, for answering the call and stepping up to the plate as our fearless leader! â€“ Jennifer Campbell, SGN Scoops Staff Writer