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

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Radio vs Internet - what's better ministry

Recently Gospelcom (our website host) went through a major changeover (which I don't understand). What I do understand is that it caused major problems. It caused internal server errors, broken links, and more. Our webmaster asked me, "If you had to choose one over the other, which would you chose radio or internet?"

I thought for a minute and said, 'hmmmm, it depends on what you're talking about.' And, it really does. Radio is a great communication tool. It's something that can immediately communicate a need. That's the number 1 place people gets their news. I think it a great immediate information tool. You can hear it any where; car, home, business, farm, you name it.

However, the internet seems to be more ministry focused (for us, at least). Here's why I say this:
1. People use Mission Network News e-mail updates as a daily prayer guide.
a. Very few people use radio that way (in the U-S at least).
2. People download our podcast to play it at church
a. Most people don't record the radio and play it at church
3. The web site distributes literature that helps Christians focus on missions.
a. Radio can help with this, but much of our resource ordering comes from on-line users.
Is radio ministry focused? It can be, but mostly radio is entertainment. That's just the nature of the beast. Radio is a great tool to communicate with people. Yes, people are ministered through a song or a program, but what usually happens? They call or write for more information or they use what they've heard to dig deeper. I guess you could say that's 'ministry', but how many of the people who use radio use it that way? Very few.

The Internet is different. Almost everyone coming to our web site is looking for something specific. They heard about a resource, a prayer guide, an event, etc that grabbed their attention and they want to pursue something further.

I haven't given this a lot of thought, but for Mission Network News, radio announces the ministry and the web site powers the ministry. While most of our funding come through the radio, those who want to be behind the scenes prayer warriors, researchers, etc use the web site.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Interesting, not surprising -- we've been saying this all along

A MICHIGAN research project conducted by the COMMUNICATIONS RESEARCH INSTITUTE (CRI) of EAST LANSING, MI shows listeners strongly prefer the ability of local radio stations to keep them in touch with their communities.

"The research confirms what we suspected all along," said BRUCE GOLDSEN, Chairman of the Radio Issues Committee of the MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS (MAB). GOLDSEN is also owner of JACKSON RADIO WORKS. "Listeners in MICHIGAN place a high value on what we do best, which is keeping citizens in touch with their local communities through news, community service, music that is preferred by local citizens, and personalities that become part of the extended family."

The MAB hired CRI to test MICHIGAN listeners' attitudes about local radio and emerging competitors, including satellite radio and personal audio devices such as iPods. The CRI team consisted of MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY communications research experts DR. WILLIAM A. DONOHUE, DR. CHARLES ATKIN, and DR. BRADLEY GREENBERG.

CRI conducted the research during APRIL and MAY 2005. The firm utilized a statewide telephone survey of 300 MICHIGAN residents and seven focus groups to compile data. Key findings in the telephone survey include:

-- 79% of respondents said they had spent as much or more time listening to local radio compared to one year ago
-- 95% said they expected to listen to local radio as much or more in the coming year
-- 88% felt their local radio station provides a valuable service to the community
-- Only 8% had access to satellite radio
-- 50% of satellite radio customers indicated they did not receive good reception when driving
-- 83% of satellite customers indicated they would not continue to pay for the service if satellite stations start carrying commercials
-- Only 20% listen regularly to personal players (typically 45 minutes per day)
"Most adults still feel close ties to their local radio stations, which satisfy listener needs for information about the community as well as their preferred type of music," said DR. ATKIN. "Even young adults under age 30 are regular radio listeners, despite their increased use of personal players and other new technologies."

75 individuals were involved in the focus group sessions. Key findings include:

-- Virtually every research participant could name their favorite local radio station
-- People become attached to a specific local radio station and find when moving to another geographic location, they "miss" their old station
-- When asked why they like listening to local radio, respondents mentioned local news, weather and sports reports
-- Listeners become attached to various local radio personalities and enjoy listening to them on their way to work or school
-- Many respondents liked hearing about local events and concerts which they feel keeps them in touch with their communities
-- People recalled their favorite stations often promote community causes and raise money for charities
-- Listeners said in contrast to satellite radio that local radio stations reveal the "sounds of a city" and reflect the unique culture of the community
"We felt we had a good story to tell, but we wanted hard, unbiased data to demonstrate what we suspected to be true," said MAB Pres. and CEO KAROLE WHITE. "The facts show that the hype being put forth by emerging technologies doesn't align with the reality that local radio is uniquely positioned to provide the local touch listeners value."

The MAB plans to use the data from the CRI research to develop a campaign to promote the strengths of local radio throughout MICHIGAN. The local radio campaign will be launched in late summer 2005

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Don't get me wrong...

I love my job. I don't really consider it work, although I do appreciate the pay check. Really, I love tell the world about news that makes a difference. I consider what I do 'a call' from God. I hope because of what we're doing at MNN that we're making a difference for eternity.

But, at the same time I would love to manage a Christian radio station today. While I'm not saying I know everything there is to know about Christian radio, I think it would be fun to buck 'the trends' and show the industry that there isn't a 'set in stone' way to program a station today and be successful (what God considers successful). Yes, yes, I know, it's got to be worth listening to. It has to be 'packaged well' and it has to be compelling. But, one thing is certain, the station I run would have ministry as it's focus. There would be events, but these events would be geared toward spiritual growth and evangelism. It would have a full-service news department, great music (but not just what the CRW tells me to play), but most importantly, it would make God's Word the center of its mission.

Why am I posting this? I don't know, really. I guess it's because I'm tired of hearing Christian radio that says nothing. So many stations are so interested in the 'mechanics' that they totally lose the heart, soul and passion that drives them. I miss the days when I could turn on the radio and have someone minister to me where I live. Where's the talk about sin in our lives? Where's the talk about the cross? Where's the message of the Gospel...the reminder many of us need to get through a difficult time in our lives.

Yes, I guess that's 'preaching to the choir' to a degree. But, as you're talking about what matters, there will always be a few who are listening because they're searching for truth.

Some day...maybe.

NOT! I like what i do too much to give it up right now. :)