Culture

Morality Radio vs. Gospel-Centered Radio

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gospel centered

I’m a fan of Andy and Barney.  Millions love the Andy Griffith show and its iconic whistling theme song, including myself.  The show is clean, moral, fun, humorous and non-offensive.  Filmed in the 1960’s, Griffith was once asked about the family-friendly, clean-cut view of the world the show presented.  He said, “We were trying to reflect the morals of the 1930’s.”

Those are all well-intentioned qualities.  Yet, they fall short.

One of my greatest fears is that Christian radio is the Andy Griffith show.  We’re “safe for little ears”, positive, uplifting, encouraging, moral, clean, humorous and good.  But that isn’t enough.

It isn’t enough to be morality radio.  It isn’t enough to be the station that doesn’t use four letter words.

We must be gospel-centered.

Morality never rescued anyone from his or her shattered self-image.

Family-friendly never offered the solution to a broken marriage.

Safe and clean never delivered someone from the crushing weight of guilt.

The gospel does.

At Positive Alternative Radio we have begun a quest.  Our goal is to be gospel-centered.  We want to live our lives in the light of the gospel and in so doing share our struggles, failures, and successes with our listeners and allow them to see us being changed by Jesus.

At this moment, program directors who are reading this post are about to set their hair on fire.

I’m not saying we bring in Rev. Fred and give him the microphone for 30 minutes and let him scream his guts out.

I am advocating we have authentic conversations with our audience.  And never doubt that your audience WANTS and DESIRES authentic interaction.

Continue to be funny.

Keep doing the “What’s the worst pet name you’ve ever heard?” bits.

But – there are times when life demands you be authentic.

Share your parenting struggles – because your listener is struggling as well.

Talk about how Jesus gives us a new identity – because those who listen to us need to be reminded that they are not defined by their past but by the cross and the resurrection.

But do it in an authentic and relevant manner.

One final thing, we have made a commitment to be more intentional with the gospel.

When it is appropriate and natural, we will share the gospel on-air.  We won’t preach.  But we will simply share the message of Jesus in 60-90 seconds and invite those listening to follow this Jesus that has transformed our lives.

Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?”

I say, “What does it profit us as Christian media if we have 1 million in weekly cume, and never share the gospel?”

Let us be authentic.

Let us be unashamedly Christian.

Let us be gospel-centered.

 

Brian Sanders

Positive Alternative Radio

Executive Vice-President

The Future of Radio

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music streaming services

If you ask anyone where the future of the radio industry is going, they will answer with a resounding response of “On the Internet of course”.  I don’t think we have to convince anyone of the Internet redefining the way our world interacts.  However, the radio industry is not always the quickest to adopt new technology.

The Internet gives us an ability to connect with listeners in ways that the inventors of radio or television could never imagine.  Where the radio industry has always been the “talkers”, the Internet has given us the ability to listen.  Our industry has to evolve to survive in an interactive world.

Many terrestrial broadcasters have dabbled in the Internet because that’s what others in the industry have told them to do.  They want an online web stream because the other radio stations in their market are doing the same and they believe they will be left behind.  The same goes for their website, Facebook, Twitter and mobile applications.  Those terrestrial broadcasters don’t really understand why they are on the Internet.

We have the ability to utilize the Internet to connect with our listeners in a profound way.  How do we do this? — here are some practical ways that we can create experiences and connect with listeners with existing technologies.

Websites - Change our websites to provide the information that our listeners need in their communities.  Provide the information that they need to grow in their love of Christ, serve others and help them in their daily lives.  We need less information that serves the interest of the radio station and more information that serves the interest of the people who listen to our radio stations.

Social Media - Let’s create a social media site to promote the radio station — wrong!  Social media is a convenient medium with a large base.  We can provide uplifting messages in large-scale fashion.  However, we must interact with others on social medium.  We can’t just talk — we have to interact and listen as well.

Online Web Streaming & Mobile Apps - We must excel in the manner in which we provide online web streaming and mobile apps.  We can’t expect to gain and keep the interest of our listeners by providing a static product.  We have to provide additional content besides the audio from our radio stations.  We must provide information on our radio personalities to form a connection for our listeners, on the artists who provide music that encourages, and anything that helps our listeners in their walk with Christ.

To succeed in the radio industry of the 21st century, we have to interact with our listeners.  These technologies allow us many new avenues to reach more people for Christ.

 

-David Hodges, Director of Engineering, Positive Alternative Radio

The Power of Insight…

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I’ve heard a lot of talk about the ‘core listener’…listener’s age, predominantly female, soccer mom, stay-at-home mom, etc.  Honestly, I admit that hadn’t fully sunk into my brain as deep as it should…until this one call from a donor…

I received a voicemail from a lady who wanted to update her declined credit card.  She asked that I please return her call that day, or she’d try and fit in a time to call me back later in the week.  I happily called but got her answering machine.  In the middle of me leaving a message, an out of breath lady answered the phone, “Hi! I’m so glad you called but can you hang on a minute, please?”  I told her, “of course, no problem.”  Then I overheard her talking to her child; giving instructions on how long to walk the dog, how far to go, to hold the leash tightly, etc.  She apologetically returned to our call and began explaining what had happened with her credit card.  We were partway through updating her card info when another child entered the conversation, “I’m hungry!  Can I have a snack?”  …Mom responded with a list of reasons which included, “No, it’s close to dinner time; go comb your hair we have to leave for rehearsal soon.”  After giving further instructions on what she meant by “comb your hair”, she once again returned to our call and apologized profusely for all the interruptions.

In that momentI realized this mom was taking precious time out of an insanely busy (perhaps normal?) day to update her card information with us so that her gift could resume.  I realized what a huge inconvenience this call was for her and yet she was determined to get this done, even while juggling many tasks and people that yearned for her attention.

I have always been deeply grateful for our donors.  After speaking with this dear lady, I feel as if I got to climb inside her world a bit and it makes me that much more thankful!  I won’t pretend that I always get it right with every call but I’m so glad that I didn’t sound impatient or annoyed with this lady.  I even took a moment to thank her for making time for my call.  Each time I answer the phone now I am reminded of this sweet mom and how precious time is for our listeners and donors; how awesome it is that they carve in time to speak with us!

 

Kayla Sanders

Director of Partner Services

Working for God

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Work for Jesus Sign

You were created by God.

He fashioned you. You are the result of His skill and care.

But the wonder and the drama of our existence doesn’t stop there.

There’s an often skipped verse in Genesis.

These overlooked words can help bring purpose and joy to your daily life…your daily work life. No matter if you’re a stay at home mom who home-schools the kids, a factory worker who clocks in 8 hours a day exactly, a doctor who works limitless hours or the leader of a major company these words grant you amazing perspective.

The scripture reads, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden to work it and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15)

God created the man.

God gave the man work to do.

That verse screams we are to work. We are not to waste our lives in idleness chasing after the cheap thrills from the edges of life. We were made to make an impact.

Work is from God. Folding the laundry, selling advertising, building cars, feeding the cattle on a dairy farm – this work comes from the loving hand of our God.

God “put him in the garden…” God gave the man a vocation. God gave the man a talent and a task. The task God gave the man matched his talent.

Whatever you’re good at…whatever you’re passionate about…God gave that to you.

Then there are the words “work” and “keep”.

The man was to work. He was to labor.

Your job isn’t a burden. It isn’t to be seen as a necessity to pay the bills. Our work is a gift from Him. I can write that with 100% confidence because the talents we have to perform our work come from our Lord…and talents are not to be wasted.

That changes my perspective. I now can now say that I get to work where I get to exercise the gifts Jesus gave me. I’m not there just to earn a paycheck…I’m there to honor Him with the skills He gave me.

You’re not there just to wipe noses and change diapers…you’re there to honor Him with the talents He gave you.

Finally, there’s the ‘who’.

  • God put the man in the garden.
  • God gave the man the task to work the garden.
  • God gave the man the talents to do the tasks.

God.

What we do reflects His glory.

I can delight in what I do because I delight in the One who gave me the talent to do it. I have joy in what I do because my joy comes from the One who put me in this “garden”.

The mandate also becomes bolder and clearer.

I’m not here just to build great companies. You’re not here just to do data entry, prescribe medicine, adjust spines, sell cars, or build houses.

You’re here to honor Him…to give Him glory…and to give Him glory and honor THROUGH what you do.

Whatever garden you are laboring in – you’re there because God put you there.

Tend it well.

For the garden belongs to Him.

Brian Sanders
Executive Vice-President
Positive Alternative Radio

Planting the Gospel

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GARDENING 101

Well, it’s that time of year. It’s time to get out in the sun and get in the garden. I have never had much of a “green thumb”. I’ve never tended a garden personally, but I do know that it takes a lot of work. As a matter of fact, as I researched the topic for this post, I was shocked at all the info and tips that were available. I read tips on picking the best soil. I read instructions on how to know if plants were “shade-tolerant” or “sun-loving”. I even brushed up on how to deal with “immature root systems”. I have come to the conclusion that, like anything, once you have a basic understanding, the proper tools, and practice…growing plants still takes work. What? You thought I was going to say “it’s easy”?

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with radio. You may be asking how this applies to you, your work, Christian radio, and the Gospel. I’d like to compare a few steps it takes to have a successful garden with some steps we can take to have a successful experience in our work.

Readers BEWARE… Many metaphors ahead!!!

Prepare your Soil

Soil is the most important element in a garden and probably one of the most overlooked by “first-time” gardeners. Soil supports plants physically and provides them with water and nutrients. Now I will ask you, “In what kind of soil are you rooted?” I have found sixty one verses in Scripture that have to do with being rooted. They speak of being deeply rooted in the Word, in love, and in truth.

You see it matters what type of soil we are standing in. We preach the Gospel! We talk about Jesus and His love for us, but where does that knowledge come from? Are we simply relaying messages that we hear in church? Are we just passing on information we gather in small groups, or are we taking time to root ourselves in scripture? If I’m being honest, I really struggle with this. I overuse the excuse of being too busy, and at the same time running the risk of spreading a false gospel on our radio station.

That’s something to really think about. Are we rooting ourselves in the Truth? Soil matters. Actually it matters most.

Care for Your Garden

Even if you are without a “green thumb” you still understand that gardens take work. You have to care for the seeds you sew. I found it interesting how watering your plant actually helps it grow. It is not the water itself that is beneficial but the fact that the water flow dissolves the nutrients in the soil and helps transport those nutrients to and throughout the plant. I’ve also read that plants don’t necessarily need sunlight to grow but of course they grow stronger and are better produce having had it. But there’s something else that your garden needs that’s just as important. Yes, this is the part where I tell you that you need to weed your garden. You knew it was coming, right? You have to work. You have to care for your garden!

So how do we care for our work? Well we “weed out” distractions! (No pun intended)…It’s easy for me to get distracted. I come in each and every morning fired up and ready to do the best I can and by 9am I have already lost focus. Maybe it’s my phone or perhaps it’s social networking. The internet can be a big “weed” for me. But going a little deeper than that I would say work becomes a distraction to my work. If I am focused on too many things then I am not focused on just one thing; therefore, that one thing suffers. Also, piling on too many tasks can lead to feeling overwhelmed which then drains your passion and leaves you just “working”. We do so much more than just clock in and out each day.

Let’s be sure and care for our work. Let’s be sure to weed out those distractions. Learn to say “No”. Remember that the details make up the bigger picture. Stay focused on what we do, and that is to inspire people to live passionately for Jesus!

It All Takes Time

Proper timing makes all the difference when it comes to planting your garden. If you’re like me you want results today! If you’re like me you want to be finished with a project before the sun goes down. Radio is such a “right now / moment to moment” environment, but let’s be sure to remember that goals take time. Getting yourself rooted in the right soil takes time. Getting in the habit of caring for your work takes time, but it’s all worth the investment. I’ll leave it at this:

-Get rooted in the Word

-Grow what you love

-Don’t let it stress you out

-Enjoy the fruits of your labors

 

Happy Gardening!

 

Jeremy Wolfe / Walk-FM

CARING….

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HR

Who has ever heard the stigma, “HR works for the companies, and the companies only care about their company, so HR only cares about their company?”
 
Ok, that may be a little on the extreme, but let’s look at it this way …Who wakes up in the morning and gets all excited about needing to talk with HR or any other corporate representative?
 
…Really?
 
…Nobody?
 
Now I know that approximately zero people are going to believe me if I spend the next few minutes proclaiming to you that the stigma is wrong, that management and HR are here for you, because the company cares for you, and you should just take my word for it. Why? Well, because relationships don’t work that way. You can’t just declare that you care for someone and then be invisible when things go wrong and they need your help. That goes against the basic definition of the word “care”.
 
Over the last year, we have made the conscious decision to live the definition of “care” when it comes to our team members. How does that make us any different from every other company out there? The key is in the word “live”. There is a big difference between proclaiming and living. We are dedicating ourselves to proving our statements and the only way to prove your dedication is to be consistent to your word.
 
We all know that life isn’t perfect. No matter how much you plan ahead, something can always pop up and surprise you. I don’t know about you, but if life just threw me a curve ball, the last thing I would want to hear from someone is “policy this” or “policy that”. So what will we do when that inevitable moment arises when the “policy this” or “policy that” stands in the way?
 
Even if policy dictates “this is or isn’t allowed” or “only this or that can be done” there are ways we can assist our team members in finding solutions. How? Maybe there is a different benefit provided that, although it may not help with their primary concern, it may be able to assist with the effects it has on the other aspects of life. Maybe there is an outside organization with which we have a relationship and they can provide the assistance that the team member needs.
 
There is an endless number of ways to show team members that we care and I know we continue to grasp the challenge with both hands. I know that we take every opportunity on every day to dedicate our resources in a way that proves management and HR are here for you and the company cares for you.
 
Debra Bourne
Director of HR & Accounting Services

It Matters

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it matters

I’ll never forget the morning that Sam shared his testimony with me. I had just finished leading worship at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Parkersburg, WV when I noticed him walking towards the stage. I could tell by the intent look on his face that Sam had something he wanted to say to me. I was thinking “Did I say something Biblically incorrect? Did I get some lyrics wrong? Was my singing that bad?”
 
Sam introduced himself, thanked me for singing and for sharing my testimony. As he did he made mention that he really enjoys listening to Walk-fm. I was sure to let him know how much I appreciated the fact that he had heard of our radio station. We began to have a good conversation about ministry, the church, and Walk-fm. That’s when Sam’s demeanor totally changed. He began to speak about his marriage but was immediately cut off by the lump in his throat. He tried to get the words out but couldn’t. He was just too emotional. So here I am in front of this grown man I had just met and he is weeping. I struggled to find words of comfort but could only come up with “It’s ok. Whatever it is its ok.” After he collected himself and regained his composure I could finally understand what he was saying.
 
Sam had been married for 47 years to his wife, Kathy, but for the past 5 years they struggled with even being with each other. They argued constantly. They had financial issues. They even slept in separate bedrooms. Keep in mind that I had never met this guy, but here we stood having a conversation you would most likely hear in a counselors’ office…….or a courtroom. As I was thinking this very thought Sam floored me with his next statement. He said “I’m sorry to be telling you all of this, but I feel like I know you”. He said “I listen to Walk-fm every day, and every morning I hear your voice. Every day I listen to the songs you play and they speak to my situation”. I was taken back. This man from Parkersburg listens to our station every morning and God is using it to speak life and hope into his life. But nothing could’ve prepared me for what he said next. “Jeremy”, he said “I am so thankful for what you do because my God used your station to heal our marriage”. Sam explained how one morning he heard “Restore” followed by “Waiting forTomorrow” and in that moment made up his mind that God can be in control of his finances. He told me of how he decided then that God can have authority over his life. Even in his marriage.
 
That day as I was driving home from Parkersburg I kept praising God for working in spite of me. I had a lot of time to think about how God had used Walk-fm to restore a marriage and to rebuild a person’s heart. I also started to think about the details.
 
You know when we think of radio we usually think of “On-Air” stuff. Now we know that’s not all there is to it, but what if we didn’t strive to do our best in the small things. What if contracts hadn’t been prepared properly? What if someone didn’t keep up w budgets? What if we didn’t give it all we have to make sure our
stations stay on the air and a part of the community? If one little bolt falls out of my car’s engine it could stop the entire car from performing.
 
You see every little detail is important so in all you do give it your best. When you ask yourself “is what I’m doing important” remember that there may be a “Sam” out there listening.
 
Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you. Because It All Matters.
 

Jeremy Wolfe


Walk FM
General Manager

A Piece of the Puzzle

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Have you ever done a puzzle with a friend or family member? The other day my 4 year old son was very excited to put together a puzzle of his dear friend Dora the Explorer. He took his time and placed every piece exactly where it should go BUT to his dismay when we got down to the last piece it was nowhere to be found. So instead of a Dora Masterpiece, he had half of Dora’s face and it just wasn’t the same. Putting together a successful radio station is a lot like that Dora puzzle. You can have great programming, great social media and great production but if you are missing a great website you are missing a big piece.

Let’s be honest, radio stations are known for poorly built websites. Why? Many stations believe that only their on-air product matters. They think, “Who cares about the website?” Should your on-air product be excellent? Absolutely but so should your website. Your website is your opportunity to capture your listener. It’s your time to tell her why you do what you do! It’s a time for her to meet someone through a video sharing how their life has been changed through your station. It’s a time where you can take her from listener to much more. Don’t squander that opportunity with poor graphics and hard to find information. Your website is a big piece of the radio puzzle. It serves you and your listeners well to not forget about that puzzle piece. After all, your station is not a masterpiece if they can only make out half of the picture.

 

Colleen Larkins

Assistant Manager

Spirit FM

 

Step Away From the Line

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I wear more than a couple of hats at my station. As a result, I go through the internal struggles as the manager side of me argues with the underwriting side of my persona.

Sometimes the on-air side of me doesn’t want to “waste time” with all that legal stuff. The hardest part is taking that step back and asking, “What’s right?”

Let’s take that step back now. I remember when I first became a Christian I went to youth group and the pastor invited us to ask any question we had. After about a half hour of fielding various questions that were basically surrounding the issue of “how much can we get away with and still be a Christian”, the pastor told us to stop. He said, “You should be striving to see how much you can live for the Lord, not how close you can get to sinning without actually crossing that line.”

That line has stuck with me my whole life. Rather than seeing how much I can legally get away with in my underwriting script, I can set a higher standard where there is no doubt. Sure, my salesman side screams at this notion much like my sinful nature screams at me when I reject temptation.

In a similar manner, I like to have fun. Who doesn’t? For me, being on-air or doing a piece of production is fun. I get to talk with people, joke around, and tap into my creative side. Then I look at my FCC checklist. Ummmm. Let’s just say, it doesn’t scream “FUN!” I could choose to ignore those tedious tasks of being FCC compliant and filling out all the detailed paperwork. I mean, after all, there’s lots of fun stuff I could be doing. Of course, that can lead to the sting of an FCC fine.

It’s kind of like when I was a teenager and I could watch my favorite shows on TV or go do my homework. If I only chose to do what was fun, I would have never gained the education to achieve my goals.

The next time you’re tempted to neglect your FCC obligations, or you’re trying to see how close you can get to crossing that legal line, step back. Look at it through the eyes of integrity and make the right choice.

 

Dan Franks

WJYW, General Manager

Helping Others as a Christian Organization

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Excellence

What does it mean to be the leader in Christian media? Much has been said about how we go about being leaders for our teams within Positive Alternative Radio. We talk all the time about how to engage & encourage our team members to strive for excellence. We find innovative ways to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our listeners. However, what does it mean to be a leader & who are we leading? Are we just leading our listeners or are we leading the industry?

I had a great pleasure today to speak with a woman who works at another Christian radio station in a different state. She was having a technical difficulty with her online webstreaming service. She called our radio station to see how we liked our online webstreaming because she was thinking of switching.

I listened to the problems she was facing and gave her my honest opinion and expertise in the matter from my years of experience. I asked her what she didn’t like about her current service & I compared those experiences to that of our radio stations. We didn’t talk for a very long time – maybe 10 minutes – but that gave her the assurance she needed that she was making the best decision for her station & for her listeners.

So again, I’ll ask you, what are we doing to lead the industry? What happens to Christian media and the message of Jesus Christ if we can help other Christian radio stations to also better proclaim the Word? I think the answer is simple – we must lead in our industry to encourage & support other Christian media outlets. As team members at Positive Alternative Radio we have the expertise in our fields to help others. We should use that expertise for the glory of God.

 

David Hodges,

 

Director of Engineering
Positive Alternative Radio