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And the Winner Is…

“And the winner is…Christian Radio!!!”  

Cheering erupts. The crowd goes wild! That’s us! The other contestants hug us as we make our way to the microphone, center stage, unsure of what to say, feeling a huge weight of responsibility for what this means moving forward. What a dream! We never expected this!

It’s true. We are in a season of unprecedented favor in Christian Broadcasting. I’m not sure if it’s because our numbers have risen, or if our competition got wiped out because their younger, tech-savvy listeners are more fickle. Either way, the moment is ours. You and I were born into this time period, to be in radio, for such a time as this!

And as CMB always does, it prepares us for what’s coming next. I am over-the-moon excited to apply the wisdom of the experts at Momentum 2024. Here are a few takeaways:

Lisa Turkehurst from Proverbs 31 Ministries told us, in a nutshell,  “why” we share our personal stories on-air: “I need to be reminded, through someone else’s story, that in the deepest parts of MY story, it’s worth hanging on.”

Mark Ramsey from Mark Ramsey Media. He gave us the good news/bad news  about all this popularity. Yes, Christian radio is growing rapidly, but overall, people going to church has dropped from 42% to 30% in just 20 years. Similarly, people claiming no religious affiliation at all rose from 9% to 21% in that same time period.  And NONE is the fastest growing religion of today! More bad news…all cume numbers for radio in all formats are down, even Christian radio is down 37%.  We need to stop asking what’s the future for our format and industry (thinking towers and buildings), because that’s not what we are!  We are a community of fans and content and distribution!  

Our challenge is: How can a brand which brings faith and positivity and encouragement, bring more to more people in more places and more ways?  Truly, Christian radio is the best format there is! And that’s because you’re the best at what you do. And that’s because, you’re not about the radio. You’re about the mission. Your listeners are about the mission. So make sure it’s their voice, their faces, their content, their platforms, all swirling around the brand at the center of which…is you.  

Dennis Clark from iHeart Radio gave a firehose amount of content to grow our radio shows. We have the best news in the world and these are excellent ways to get that word out. 

He said, realize our listeners have become snackers. They come for the M&M’s and then they’re gone. So be sure they know your name, and the station call letters. Make sure they know the names of your on-air team so after they’ve finished with their snack, they remember you by name and they’ll be much more apt to return.

How is your show different from other shows?  Is it positive? Fun? “On your level?”, “topically dependable yet unpredictable”?, “Informed and interesting?”, “Community?”, “Relatable?”, “Empathetic?”  Remind listeners of how you’re different and why it matters. You want to be the one to hold your listeners hand through all the changes and evolving of what’s next in the world.  

The digital game is massive! Get into it fast! Make sure you are searchable!  what your listener is coming to you for. Get to the point. What do they need to know?  Embrace freshness, newness, specialness. Establish an interactive environment, whether it’s social media, texts, comments or calls.  

Also, the podcast era has not peaked. This is where your listeners can get more of you, go deeper with you and get more of what you talked about on air. Our listeners have an appetite to get to know the hosts as often as possible. Companionship and personality is becoming paramount to music. Talent must extend into podcasting, social media and events. Be everywhere your listener is.  

Phew! That’s a lot, isn’t it?  

Jesus said, YOU (people) are his church, not a building. And YOU (people) are Christian radio, not an FM stick. Let’s tell good stories, know why we’re different, use all the technology we can and show people not only where the hope is but WHO the hope is!