Christian Radio

This blog has been established to talk about Christian Radio (the industry) and to encourage those who are working in the industry. I would like to talk about news, music, programs and whatever else comes up. My goal is to get listeners and the professionals to talk about the issues to help make the ministry even better and stronger. Tell all you know about this blog.

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Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States

I'm the Executive Director of Mission Network News, a broadcast network servicing more than 900 radio stations in North America, New Zealand, Eucuador, Romania and Moldova

Thursday, June 30, 2005

"Radio World" does Cooke have it right?

Thanks to a friend (Gordon Govier) I was alerted to an article in Radio World. The Headline reads; News Is Better Here On Earth, Research suggests satellite subscribers come back to AM/FM Stations for News, Weather and Traffic, written by Holland Cooke. It's a great article.

Here are some interesting points he made based on some 1,200 + interviews of people 18 +, 50/50 male/female ratio. The top three 'likes' of their AM/FM radio station; Music, Information and It's local.

What did they hate? Number one, was too many blasted commercials. But, then Cooke writes, "Radio's two most injurious self-inflicted wounds post-consolidation were draconian cutbacks in local programming, while we were torturing listeners with intolerable commercial loads." To me that screams…'why are Christian radio stations cutting back on local news all over the country? We would own almost every market if we did it right!"

Here are some other interesting thoughts of his. His research indicates that "The music selection is annoyingly repetitive." They also hated repetitive newscasts. Because some huge companies own almost all of some markets, listeners also hate hearing the same people in a market doing the weather, traffic and news.

Satellite radio users were also asked the question; why do you return to local AM/FM radio? 54-percent said to hear local news, 40-percent said to hear the weather, 38-percent said traffic and 28-percent said to hear a local host or DJ. The article was then summed up with this; "Do the top four things, local news, weather, traffic and local hosts, as well as you possibly can.

Is non-com Christian radio following this example? Are we playing or reading more "underwriter spots", playing the same old 50 to 100 songs, have we dumped or cut back local news in favor of national headlines or nothing at all, and who's covering the weather. If Christian radio stations aren't doing all these things, plus sharing a true Gospel message, why are we doing it at all?


Blogger Couchy said...

I plead ignorance because I have not seen the article. I'm curious to know how the questions were asked, because the results suggest that the questions were leading ones...not completely objective.

Of course most listeners are going to want variety and loathe repetition. Yet put those same listeners in an auditorium test and inevitably they will only agree on a handful of similar things that appeal to them, thus leading to the decreased variety and increased repetition they hate.

The fact that "local" was a factor also makes me wonder how questions were asked. Put a quality broadcast originating from an unknown place next to a local station executing the same elements poorly, and 9 times out of 10 (with everything else being equal), the first station would win.

If "local" and "variety" were truly as powerful as we would all like them to be, the public access TV channels on cable would beat the networks handily every night.

Certainly 100 song playlists suck, but most often so do 1000. It's all about finding that sweet spot that's the most effective for what a stations goals are.

8:32 PM  
Blogger gyoder said...

Mike, you can say that about ANY survey that's taken. I've suggested that many consultants working today have ties to the music industry, so most of their questions lean that direction. But,I get similar comments at church without any solicitation as a few church attenders are die-hard listeners. I would say p1's to any music station will make these comments.

I complete object to the last part of you post. Public access channels can't compare to what we're talking about. It's done poorly, without reason (in many cases) and open to everyone. Variety, for variety's sake isn't what we're talking about here. I am suggesting the local news departments need to do more to re-write news and look at the story behind the story. In terms of music, you don't just have to listen to the major music companies to decide what song to play and what one not play.

In terms of Inspo, CHR, and like formats, there are some great songs that you couldn't play 10 years ago, that you can play now. Why not play them? Just because they were written and produced 10 years ago, doesn't mean it can't bless someone now. Top 40 type stations, this wouldn't work, for obvious reasons. But, for those with the formats mentioned, it would work great.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Couchy said...

"Public access channels can't compare to what we're talking about. It's done poorly, without reason (in many cases) and open to everyone."

Not very different from most Christian radio as recently as 5-10 years ago :-).

I agree with you about music and news. You gotta have somebody asking the right questions and testing the right songs to keep a playlist fresh and/or refreshing.

10:31 AM  

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