How To De-escalate With Angry Listeners

Welcome to the minefield!  Masks on, masks off, closing down, opening up, vaccines, the constitution, fake news, protests, riots, elections, schools…there seem to be fewer and fewer safe places to step these days and we all feel it!

We are entering a season of unprecedented anger in this country and it’s tempting to bring down the loudest, meanest people in our world. I’m a vigilante at heart. I love it when the proud stumble and the underdog triumphs across the finish line! I love putting a big talker in their place. But in all my bad-guy wrangling, when it comes to Christian radio, I’ve learned this: If I teach a listener a lesson, they’ll sometimes teach me a much larger, more painful lesson right back!

Who am I referring to? The people who write to your station about what you’re doing wrong, those who call to say you offended them, you’re too liberal, too conservative and they will immediately pull all financial support. I’m thinking of the people that pour gasoline on your innocent Facebook post and then light a match to it. This type of behavior will only increase for all of us in the days ahead. And I’ve carved out a path for myself based on some huge missteps of the past. Here’s my word for this season: De-escalate.

Anger and what the DJ said

A DJ I worked with answered a call from a listener with a complaint about something he said on his show. The DJ stood his ground, and because he knew he was correct he challenged the caller. It got a little heated but eventually the caller acquiesced and agreed the DJ was right. Victory, right? No, because losing an argument doesn’t feel good. The loser rarely appreciates being schooled and there’s a good chance they will tell a much different story to their friends. The caller will win in the version they tell. At the very least, they may paint the DJ as a bully, and that’s exactly what happened in this scenario.

I’ve learned the importance of de-escalating those situations because I’ve successfully ESCALATED them so many times in the past. After much trial and error, I’ve learned to 1. Listen 2. Repeat back to the listener what they’re frustrated about and then 3. Find something/anything to affirm about them. Usually I affirm their passion or their concern. I don’t have to agree with their accusation to appreciate their passion or their willingness to speak up. They may just be irritated but they might also feel like they’re protecting the faith in some way. De-escalate.

Anger and Facebook

Similar stories play out on Facebook when someone hijacks a post and takes it in an angry direction. I’ve drawn my sword on a few occasions in the past and since I’m fairly good at slicing and dicing with my words, and have done so with precision and accuracy. And even though some people “liked” the flogging, a lot more probably didn’t.

Now, when someone instigates conflict on a post, I either hide it or delete it. Hiding is better because the offender can still see it, but no one else can. Deleting it will sometimes instigate more anger. I’ve found it necessary to keep close tabs on all Facebook posts for this very reason. Nip it in the bud before people of like-mind, jump on the bandwagon and derail the entire post and start a virtual fist fight.  De-escalate.

Anger and Vaccines

A while back, I did a radio break about a boy who was glad to turn 18 so he could finally have himself vaccinated over the objections of his parents. Since my views on vaccines fell more in line with his, it was an easy story to tell. The first bit of pushback I got was through a private message on Facebook taking issue with the story I shared. I calmly replied that it was merely my opinion. They told me I don’t have a right to my opinion. I left it at that and thought it would be the end of it but it was only the tip of the iceberg. What ensued was an organized, angry campaign against the station.  That was not a warm and fuzzy season. As awful as that was, the station had my back, for which I will always be grateful but it also taught me a valuable lesson. My role as an on-air personality is not to teach anyone anything, but to lead by example.  To be a friend, not a teacher. To be a sister, not a mother. And when the COVID vaccine arrives, that will ignite this issue in a whole new way. De-escalate.

Anger and Politics

The day after Barack Obama won the presidency, I commented about him winning the election. I got two calls about it.  One call accused me of being a liberal because my voice sounded slightly happy about the way the election turned out, and a second call accused me of being a conservative because I didn’t sound happy enough about the news. It still makes me laugh. And wow, that example seems like very small potatoes compared to the political climate we have now.

Some people get frustrated if you don’t mention the rioting when you talk about demonstrations. Others say when you talk about the rioting, it detracts from the legitimate protests. Some want the COVID information to be safe, others want nothing said about it at all.

Listeners want you to be their mouthpiece. They want you to be on their side and will try and sniff out what you say to try and determine whose side you’re on. What’s a DJ to do? How can you win? De-escalate.

Anger and Jesus

Thankfully Jesus always has the answer in situations like these. He never led people from the top-down, but always from the bottom-up. Rather than arguing from above, he asked questions from below. And to those who were truly seeking the truth, he spoke gently and humbly. For those trying to trap him, he spoke less or not at all. He was always in control of his emotions.

As a DJ, I’m here to lead people to Jesus, not to argue them into seeing the world the way I do. No one likes to be taught a lesson. People like to LEARN lessons on their own. Jesus led by humble example and that’s the best thing we can do for our listeners, angry or not. Model how it’s done. De-escalate.

Lisa Barry
Lisa Barry Media – On-Air Host
lisa@lisabarrymedia.com

Lisa Barry is a 25-year radio veteran currently hosting radio shows for the XFMedia Network, 98.5 KTIS in Minneapolis, and Spirit 1059 in Austin, TX. She’s passionate about radio education, video production and ministering to exhausted radio DJ’s. She works from a state-of-the-art studio in her home in Naples, Florida where she lives with her husband Ken. They have three grown daughters.    

Related posts

The team at 94.9 KLTY has served the Dallas/Fort Worth community for over 35 years. In 2020, the need was never greater. Through their local campaigns, Christmas Wish and Speak Love, they were able to assist many families who were impacted by not only the pandemic, but by hard times in general. The Speak Lovecampaign helped first responders, teachers, servers, food service staff, and many more within the community throughout the year. In 2020 94.9 KLTY’s Christmas Wish campaign brought Christmas joy to hundreds of families in the DFW area. They provided vehicles, food, toys, and other forms of relief to families in their community. They could not have reached any of these needs if not for their listeners and their generous donations to 94.9 KLTY’s nonprofit programs. In total, Speak Love and Christmas Wish raised more than $160,000 for those in need in Dallas/Fort Worth. They also recognized those sacrificial front-line workers and first responders who keep our community safe. Each week, 94.9 KLTY honored them, raised funds throughout the summer, and then presented each first responder with a check as a token of their gratitude. With countless families in need because of the pandemic, 94.9 KLTY also helped the Tarrant Area Food Bank distribute food essentials on multiple occasions in September, October, November. It is 94.9 KLTY’s sincere honor to serve our listeners in Dallas/Fort Worth.

×

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.

×

89.5 KVNE exists to glorify God by encouraging people, connecting their community, and pointing people to Jesus Christ. When their community was turned upside down by COVID, they knew they had to jump into action and mobilize their listeners to make a difference for Christ. To best serve their local community, KVNE held multiple drives to support local ministry partners and those most impacted by the pandemic. They collected 1,500 gift cards (totaling more than $15,000) to benefit those in need because of shutdowns, gathered over 12,000 diapers for foster families, and collected 150 care packages for senior citizens. They also collected 1,032 fans for the Salvation Army and over 1,000 pairs of shoes for kids heading back to school. Additionally, listeners donated 1,512 care packages for the homeless in East Texas, and KVNE hosted two blood drives to help those fighting the coronavirus. People across East Texas needed connection during the pandemic, so they organized a social media outreach, called Praise Defeats, a coordinated time where listeners shot videos of themselves singing “Raise A Hallelujah.” The videos were shared thousands of times, as they deepened their community’s connection. In addition, KVNE launched a Hispanic Christian music station (Fuzión), started a worship station (Lift Worship), and began a Bible Teaching Station (The Well) – all to help people grow in their faith. God allowed them to impact His Kingdom in profound ways and serve their local community powerfully during an unprecedented time when people needed hope like never before.

×

Since 1986, The JOY FM has made community service a hallmark of its ministry to listeners – first in Sarasota, and then expanding to Tampa, other Florida markets, and most recently to Atlanta and Middle Georgia. Even with this growth, community outreach remains hands-on, with legacy events like T-Shirts for Turkeys, which helped feed more than 28,700 families in all markets served last year. 2020 created new challenges for serving, so The JOY FM innovated several service projects to accommodate contactless delivery and social distancing. JOY Drop and Restock, a brand-new outreach, collected 30 tons of food to restock local food banks hit hard by the pandemic. Partnering with Natalie Grant and Hope for Justice, Team Freedom approached a grand total of $1,000,000 in 2020 to fight human trafficking. As listeners faced political rhetoric and serious questions about race and justice, as well as practical challenges like hybrid classrooms, The JOY FM programming (on terrestrial signals, as well as its LF Radio and JOY Worship platforms) responded with a recommitment to our mission of “Helping You Find JOY.” Resources for listeners, such as the Off Air with Carmen podcast, was provided to help listeners wrestle with big questions like Christian citizenship. Possibly The JOY FM’s most relevant community service effort for 2020 was prayer. The JOY FM’s Prayer and Crisis Referral service interacted with 620,936 listeners in need of prayer or help. Of those calls and texts, 4,949 listeners reported praying to place their faith in Jesus Christ.

×

“Hope Starts Here” is more than The Light FM’s tagline. It’s their mission. In 2020, they were intentional in regularly offering community-needed resources and hope-filled encouragement. They hosted their 5th annual Make a Difference training to encourage listeners to share God’s hope and saw 14 people begin a personal relationship with Jesus. The Light FM also visited eight local Law Enforcement agencies to share words of encouragement and care baskets. They partnered with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and artists of Winter Jam for a private concert and time of prayer with families battling pediatric cancer. The Light FM listeners from five different cities donated 258 wheelchairs, 262 crutches, 259 walkers, 71 transport chairs, and 66 canes to Wheels for the World, which brings mobility and the hope of Christ around the world. During stay-at-home orders, The Light FM began offering free monthly virtual events, including: a graduation ceremony, featuring artists and Bible teachers; a conference with Crown Financial on how to manage finances during the pandemic; Girl Talk LIVE, a women’s event with worship and Bible study; God’s Hope in Crisis training with chaplains of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team; a pastor appreciation event for local churches, featuring Chip Ingram and Matthew West; and a Family Christmas Night with live music, games, and a devotion from The Light FM staff. Even throughout the pandemic, The Light FM also found ways to be out in the public, safely, with six drive-in events featuring movies and live music.

×

2021 Membership Exclusives

January – Your 2021 Radio Goals – Virtual Event
February – SURPRISE BENEFIT 
March – Radio Station Field Trip
April – A Webinar for YOUR Board
May – Virtual Mentoring Event
June – SURPRISE BENEFIT at Momentum
July – Salary Survey Webinar
August – Fundraising Webinar
September – Creative Images
October – Techsurvey Webinar
November – Radio Station Field Trip
December – Virtual Christmas Party

*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.

×