Christian Radio: We Desperately Need You Now

In the wake of the Coronavirus, we worry about many things. We worry about our families, our elders, ourselves. We worry about the people we work with. And we worry about the community of listeners who come to us for inspiration.


Our first priority is, of course, to our families and friends. And our second priority is, by association, to each other. Every listener shares our worries. We are, as the saying goes, in this together.


As a result, I can say this with no doubt whatsoever: There has never been a more important moment in the history of your career in Christian radio than this moment right now.


Our communities are anxious and the flames of that angst are being fanned with constant news updates containing little information you can actually use to make yourself safer or healthier (how does knowing that Idris Elba has the virus make me safer or healthier?). People are scared. Every day brings an avalanche of bad news.


What’s the best way for you to serve this audience now? What can you do to make things better?


For Christian broadcasters, it’s not simply about conveying the headlines and reminding people to wash up. It’s about doubling down on why listeners come to us in the first place.


The antidote for anxiety is calm. The antidote for fear is hope. The antidote for bad news is encouragement. The antidote for despair is to be uplifted.


The thing we need to do is to double-down on why listeners come to us in the first place because that’s the benefit – the value – they need now more than ever.


This is from my good friend Tom Asacker, and it sums up our individual and collective dilemmas well:


When the rug has been pulled out from under you, when you experience groundlessness and sudden powerlessness, it can feel devastating. And that’s because you’ve temporarily lost control of your script. You’re floating in uncertainty and the world suddenly stops making sense. You don’t know where you’re heading, or who or what to hold onto.


On the other hand if you believe you know what’s happening around you, especially the near term future and general direction, you feel safe. That’s why you resist change and want your agendas and ideologies to prevail. It gives you the comforting feeling of knowing how things will turn out, assuring you that your script is solid—that you have the knowledge and experience to survive.


It’s really strange. We cling desperately to control, to a delusional certainty about life, while, at the same time, we deny the actual certainty, which is that it’s a temporary trip and that you, and everyone around you, are going to die. And sooner than you think. And that’s the trouble, for as Buddha made clear: “You think you have time. You don’t.”


I find that to be encouraging. The implication is that our story is all about control but in reality that control is an illusion. God has a plan for us and irrespective of our intentions things are likely to work out differently from the way we expect. And facing up to that will help us to live a more stress-free life, even under these trying circumstances.


Tom goes on to describe two life orientations, the “stay alive” one and the “be alive” one. In one case, we are obsessed with control, in the other, we recognize that “control” is illusory:


Stay Alive Orientation

Relentless search for the “best” information, which is changing daily, in an attempt to feel in control. This compulsive desire for certainty causes incessant, unwanted thoughts, exacerbating feelings of confusion, helplessness, fear, and, eventually, irritability and anger.

Anxiety and panic, as our minds spin dreadful stories of personal loss (ourselves talking to ourselves about ourselves). The resulting physical stress weakens our immune systems, which puts us at even greater risk of infection and health complications.

Emotion-fueled, selfish behavior, driven by social cues and fear of the future. And so we start panic buying, hoarding food, profiteering, buying guns, and looking at people as opportunities or problems.

Be Alive Orientation

Calm, conscious, common sense actions. We wash our hands often (for at least 20 seconds), clean and disinfect frequently touched objects, DON’T touch our faces, stay 6 feet away from others, etc.

Curiosity and creativity. We lose ourselves in a new book, program, or project. We learn a new language, sport or skill, and start a journal to deeply explore the patterns in our lives that have been causing us to do things that we don’t want to do.

Care, connection and compassion. We physically distance ourselves from others—staying home when we’re sick, avoiding group gatherings, etc. We take these precautions so as not to infect others, especially vulnerable people, and overwhelm the healthcare system. But… we socially expand ourselves and engage in simple acts of kindness. We empathize with those exhausted workers who are working diligently to bag groceries for harried shoppers and calmly assure frightened patients. We use our phones as phones and call people who are isolated and lonely, especially older people who are unable to play bridge, go to church, take part in a book club, and meet friends for lunch. And we wave to each other, smile, tell jokes, laugh, and, generally, lighten up!

Tom concludes:


We don’t control how the world works. We only control how we respond to it. So let’s resist our survival orientation and the desire for certainty, and let this time be a reflection of the fullness of our unique spirits. Life becomes more meaningful when we take responsibility for something or someone beyond ourselves, and now is the perfect time to bring that reality to life.


And this from a resident of Wuhan, China who has been isolating since the crisis there was first declared:


We have been at home for more than 40 days now. At first, I vacillated between worried and bored. But then I gradually adapted to our new life of isolation and learned to entertain myself. I wrote in my journal, I sketched pictures, and I learned to make a whole array of pastries, like rose-shaped steamed buns and scallion pancakes with beef.


Although life is a bit more inconvenient than normal, we no longer worry about the day-to-day. Our community leader coordinates with local supermarkets to ensure every household has enough food and supplies. When the coronavirus outbreak first started, our community faced each other with panic and fear; now we are calm, encouraging each other to stay positive through WeChat.


The way you serve your audience now is not only by educating them on how to be safe and where to seek help. It’s by doing what Christian radio has always done: Calming panic, erasing fear, restoring calm, uplifting and encouraging them.


Meanwhile you can do what almost nobody else seems to be doing right now, reminding us that we need each other and depend on each other. Reminding us to care for each other, especially those of us who need the most care. Maybe not in person, but by Facetime or email or Skype or even the old fashioned communication and connection tool called a “phone.”


For every story of the guy on the corner selling a roll of toilet paper for $5 (yes, that happened near my office), there’s a story of the young woman who purchased groceries for the older woman too terrified to leave her car and enter the store.


We all desperately need you now.


Mark Ramsey is president of Mark Ramsey Media, strategic research provider to many Christian music stations including K-LOVE, AIR1, KLTY/Dallas, WPOZ/Orlando, KTIS/Minneapolis, and many others. More information about his services is at Sign up for FAITHBRIGHT, his weekly email of smart and actionable ideas for Christian broadcasters here: Reach him at 858-485-6372 or

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LIFE 96.5 seeks to empower and serve the Sioux Falls area by reaching out in faith to help make it a better place to live and work. They want to lead their listeners to Jesus and help them grow in their faith through opportunities to love and serve others. In January 2020, LIFE 96.5 listeners donated over 950 brand new baby items during the Sioux Empire’s Largest Baby Shower. The Baby Shower grows every year, demonstrating their community’s love and support of the couples who are choosing life for their unborn children. LIFE 96.5 listeners, in partnership with Dacotah Bank, provided gift cards and cash donations to the Sioux Falls School District social workers to meet the needs of 1,000 homeless students. LIFE 96.5 also invited listeners to participate in a city-wide prayer parade, where they prayed for health care and government officials while driving past hospitals, schools, and city government offices. During the months of September and October 2020, LIFE 96.5 listeners provided over 250 twin sheet sets and 100 mattresses to the Sioux Falls Sleep in Heavenly Peace organization for children who are sleeping on floors. Through LIFE 96.5, listeners also made a difference in the lives of patients spending Christmas at Avera Behavioral Health Hospital. Each patient received a Christmas stocking filled with gifts and a note of encouragement. In addition, each Saturday morning LIFE 96.5 staff host Life Connection, a program featuring community leaders and discussing the needs and concerns of the Sioux Falls Community.


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2021 Membership Exclusives

January – Your 2021 Radio Goals – Virtual Event
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*subject to change


Paul Cameron began his career in radio prior to graduating from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 1980, starting his first job in 1979 as part-time on-air talent at WMKC 96.7FM (an adult contemporary station). In 1980 Paul moved to part-time on-air talent for WHBY-AM 1230 (a news/talk station), and while still working there, began working part-time for WEMI 100.1FM. In 1981, he went full-time for WEMI and over the years served as program director, music director, station manager, and director of radio operations. In 2002 he assumed the role of executive director and general manager for Christian Family Radio, now known as The Family Radio Network. Since 2016 Paul has been chief operating officer and afternoon on-air host. He was part of the transition from one full power station to five full power stations and six translators, all in Wisconsin. Paul has given back to his community by serving on several local boards in various capacities, including The Emergency Shelter of Appleton, The Community Clothes Closet of Menasha, and Loaves and Fishes of the Fox Valley. He also serves on the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Board of Directors and has been a fundraiser host with ShareMedia/Dunham+Company since 2002.


Rob Dempsey has been serving the HIS Radio Network listeners faithfully since 2000, currently working as operations manager and morning show co-host on the HIS Morning Crew with Rob & Lizz. Rob worked as a security guard at television studios for the Home Shopping Network before he was called into the radio ministry. Now, Rob’s personal stories of overcoming obstacles, walking through a long journey to health, and stepping out in faith and selflessness inspire his listeners. Some know him as the guy who lost 140 pounds to overcome obesity, others know him as the 16-year-old kid kicked out of his home to live in the streets, and others know him as being a foster and adoptive parent. Rob and his wife’s kids range from a 34-year-old war hero, 25-year-old social media marketing specialist, 19-year-old honors college student, a 12-year-old they adopted in November 2009, as well as many foster children throughout the last 9 years. Recently, Rob has been on a health journey which included two surgeries, one a major reconstructive surgery. These past two years have been a challenge for Rob, but he continues to show that through God, anyone can become an overcomer.


Since 1989, Mike Harper has faithfully impacted East Texas on-the-air at 89.5 KVNE, where he serves as VP Communications and morning show host. He began as a volunteer weekend DJ, driving from 90 miles away. Mike advanced the cause of Christian radio by serving several years on the steering committee for CMB, and he has taken part in every NCRS/CMB since 1999. According to Nielsen, Mike and Carrie in the Morning has been the #1 Morning Show for a decade (#1 Persons 12+) propelling KVNE as high as an 8.3 share and helping KVNE become the #1 rated station in the Tyler/Longview market. During that time, KVNE won 8 Station of the Year Awards (CMB & NRB). Additionally, Mike and his co-host Carrie Parsons have been awarded “Best Morning Show in East Texas” for 9 years in a row. Mike has shaved his head to reach a pledge drive goal, donned white tights and a cape “for the children,” and stood on top of a building during a remote broadcast. He has daily arrived faithfully at 5:00 am and braved ice, snow, hail, and tornados in an effort to keep his listeners safe, encourage them, and point them to Jesus.


Bryan O’Neal has spent a lifetime entertaining, encouraging, and spreading God’s love to millions over the airwaves, landing his first radio job in 1972 in mainstream Top 40 radio. In 1978 Bryan hosted and produced Portland’s first CCM’s 30-minute radio show on Top 40 62-KGW. He then teamed up with his good friend Bob Anthony to plan a full-time CCM station in Santa Rosa. Eventually that station became K-LOVE. After K-LOVE moved to Sacramento, Bryan became their full-time employee #13 in 1994. In 1998 Bryan worked as the program director for another CCM station, KPAM/Pamplin Media. In 2001 Bryan teamed up once again with Bob Anthony at EMF’s Air1. Bryan was instrumental in moving Air1’s entire Portland staff to the new building in Rocklin, where he worked as operations director and then program director. In 2005 Bryan worked a short stint at KTSL in Spokane, and then became the music director and afternoon host at 89.7 KSGN in Redlands, California. Bryan O’Neal has worked as the program director at KSGN and co-host with Brandi Lanai for nearly 10 years of Bryan and Brandi in the Morning. Bryan hung up his headphones for retirement in March of 2021.


Bill Scott is one of the founders of Vidare Creative, a fundraising consulting company which helps Christian radio stations, through their 365 plan concept, raise the funds they need to grow. Bill has been a part of Christian radio for 39 years. He’s worked at WCIE, The JOY FM, and WAY FM as a production director, on-air talent, program director, and station manager. Bill co-hosted Dawson McCallister Live, which aired on 500 radio stations each weekend. Bill began ZJAM, a syndicated show that aired on 350 stations in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Guatemala each weekend. Bill’s latest show was Xtreme Talk Live, airing each Sunday night on over 200 radio stations. Bill has hosted 700 fundraisers on Christian radio in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Bill also runs Men of Radio, a Facebook group with over 600 men from Christian radio. For the past three years, he has hosted the Men of Radio Winter Retreat in McCall, Idaho, with the focus of getting to know other men on Christian radio so they can walk through life together. Bill Scott believes passionately in Christian radio, and he has dedicated his life to see it grow.