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

Saturday, February 25, 2006

We were right all along

I recently read a posting from a Christian radio consultant. In the last few years these consultants have been saying that we (as Christian broadcasters) need to have a single listener profile of who we're trying to reach. The majority of Christian radio programmers have used 'Becky' - a 40 year old married mother of two. She's a busy person who's probably a soccer mom.I've always objected to this. While this works really well for secular radio, it doesn't work so well with Christian radio (IMHO). The funny thing is, the consultants aren't so sure radio stations should do that any more.

According to consultant Alan Mason, "Consider the AC station trying to focus on a 40 year old woman. That single person could wind up being a mother of two, divorced, a woman who has chosen to be without children, or even a young grandmother.

Go ahead, build a profile for that!

If you look at the makeup of your Arbitron, chances are you’ll see two, three, or even four different kinds of listeners. You don’t have a single target these days; you have a family of target."

This has been the point of us news people all along. While we know that women make up 55 to 60 percent of our audience, we also know that men make up to other 40 to 45 percent. When you consider that men are 'called' to be the spiritual leaders of the home, why are men being ignored? Don't you think that women would listen to programming targeted to the male listener, knowing that what he's hearing will have an impact on their families?

I think this could be a turning point for Christian radio. We have long seen a major segment of our Christian radio audience ignored and now because the consultants say it's okay to have four or five different types of listeners, we may see radio stations meeting the needs of people, not broadcasting to one person.

Now if we can just get the consultants to admit that God Word is the most important thing about Christian radio, we'll be in good shape. More on that in another post.

Greg

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Back from NRB, everything I expected

It was a busy three days in Dallas, Texas, the site of the 2006 National Religious Broadcasters convention. The week was pretty much what I expected. It was fully of encouragement and full of disappointment.

Let me highlight the encouragement parts. Sunday was by far the best day.

I attended the Moody Broadcasting breakfast. What a wonderful time of encouragement and worship. It featured the wonderful music of Nichol Sponburg, formerly of Salah. It was so worshipful. Every song pointed us to the Savior. Then, we heard a message from the former Vice President for Broadcasting Bob Neff. He's suffering from ALS. He was forced to resign because of his illness. While it was sad he missed his 35 NRB in a row, it was encouraging to see his commitment to Christian radio continue. And even more importantly was seeing his courage and faith in Christ continue.

Then, Sunday's worship service was awesome. We had an incredible choir. It was huge and man could they sing. Then, Charles Billingsley lead us in corporate worship. And then, Dr. RC Sproul spoke. His text was Genesis 28. The way he applied it was great. He says so many people say, "Church is boring. Boring? How can a place was God comes to meet with us be boring? It's impossible to meet with God and be bored." If church is boring, you're not meeting with God. Another thing he said was, "The Kingdom of God isn't Mr. Rogers neighborhood. There are conditions tied to God's saving love. You can't experience that love without confession of sin."

As broadcasters we have a responsibility to take people to a place where people CAN meet with God. While radio needs to be something that draws someone's attention, it can't forget about God's Word because that's how people can meet face to face with God and that's where people can come to Him.

The bad part of NRB? I saw the following:
  1. People following Man, not God. It was so frustrating to see men preaching another gospel. Paul talk very clearly about this.
Galatians 1:6-10 "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."
  1. It was hard listening to Christian radio people who were more interested in ratings, advertising dollars, and audience numbers than they were ministry.
  2. Because music radio stations have cut news from their formats, it was also sad to see fewer Christian radio news people in the business.
I could go on about the bad things, but that will do it for now.

I was able to talk to dozens of affiliate and non-affiliate radio stations. It appears we have added six new stations and have developed relationships with three mission agencies. All in all it was a good conference.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Getting ready for Texas

I love and hate the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. When I attended my first NRB in 1988 I was in awe of everything. First, it was held in Washington DC, which was really cool. I could believe I was walking and talking with all the broadcasters I grew up listening to. Uncle Charlie, Chuck Swindoll, Jim Dobson, Bob Bowman. It was great. I attended EVERY session and talked to as many people as I could. And, since I was with the press and covered some really great stories.

Being young, I took in everything and listened intently to every speaker. I remember that NRB like it was yesterday. I kept thinking to myself, "I would love to do this every year…I would learn so much." That year, I learned a lot and took a lot back with me, both spiritually and professionally.

However, over the years I have not only watched the great things that Christian radio and television has to offer, I've also seen the negatives. I've seen false teachers, cults, relativists, platonic thinkers and the list seems to be getting longer and longer infiltrate the NRB. I struggle at times why I continue to be involved with NRB, especially when my good friend was ousted from the leadership role. That had to have been the low point -- watching Christians lie about someone I have so much respect for.

But then I remember it only takes one to make a difference. I'm not suggestion that I'M the one…but I am suggesting I can help that 'one' make a difference.

Christian Radio, especially, is at a crossroads. They can do what the world wants them to do and forget about the basics of the faith. Forget things like, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." They can forget that ministry is the most important thing and focus on ratings. They can forget that many people listen to Christian radio because it IS different. Or, they can redouble their efforts to have an effective ministry. They can play music that 'speaks' truth, infused with God's Word, that's more powerful than any two-edged sword -- or any Arbitron book.

As I post here, I realize that I may be biting the hand that feeds me. That's not my intention at all. I consider it a privilege to be on each and every radio station that grants us air time. But, I hope they will remember that God called us (as believers) to proclaim the Gospel. Being an entertainer is fine and God calls people to be do that, but does He do that at the expense of the Gospel?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Romania/Moldova Christian radio

I just returned from a trip to Moldova and Romania. What a wonderful trip. I can't begin to tell you how exciting it is to see the birth of Christian radio in two former communist nations.

While there I was able to visit with Little Samaritan Mission. They own 12 radio stations in Moldova and 22 stations Romania. The ministry in Moldova is made up of music and programs. Their programming is made up of music, programs and news. The music is made up of both Romanian, Russian and English songs. Most of the programming is in Romanian, but it also features Russian and English programming, too. Mission Network News is featured on Radio Little Samaritan. The programming in Romania is similar.

What's exciting is the number of people who are responding. Little Samaritan's Florin Pindicblaj was on the air for an hour on Sunday evening. I eventually joined him, but during that time there were more than 5,000 people people attempt to call the radio station. We also heard that the radio station was responsible for 90-percent of the church growth at one of the churches in the area.

Because Christian radio isn't common in either nation, they're programming to a wide audience and seeing a possitive response.

They could use a little bit of training and help with some aspects of programming, they're making an eternal difference in the lives of many people in the region. I can only pray that God would use Christian radio in the United States in the same way. Many souls need to be saved here in the states, but how likely is that?

Greg