Brands

Greater than ourselves

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greater than self picture

Recently I saw this story and it really made an impression on me…

“A man who was in construction was commissioned to build a massive bridge over the Mississippi River. This required him to be away from his family and friends. He also had to work long hours, six days a week.  But when he returned, he told me what a great joy his six months working on that bridge had been. ‘A joy? I asked. ‘Yes, a joy, he said. It is a rare and great thing to have your life used for something bigger than you. We leaders ought to be reminded frequently of what a joy it is to have our little lives caught up in something bigger than ourselves.

I shared this with some of the PAR leadership team as a reminder that our work for PAR is something far greater than ourselves.

As I’m writing this, it’s 4:14 in the afternoon and I see Adam McCain down the hall finishing a time sensitive project.  He’s been here since 5:00 this morning.  He’s not still here because he’s trying to benefit himself.  Instead he’s a person with a mission bigger than himself.  He understands that excellence for God is what we are all trying to achieve.

One of the great joys of working for PAR is that our halls are full of people who “get it”.  They understand who their work is ultimately for and they are the reason that God is blessing our stations with unprecedented growth in finances and ratings and most importantly, in the number of lives that are being reached for the Lord.

So, today, rejoice!  Be glad for the position that God has placed you in.  Sure it’s a little overwhelming sometimes(like building a bridge over the Mississippi).  But God will equip us for the job he has laid out before us.

 

Mike Perry

General Manager, WCQR

(Sub)Culture – Subculture

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subculture

I am going to write this article with as much generality as possible. One day, a few more miles down the road from here, I’ll be more specific.

The place where I serve is in a double, or even triple, sub cultural environment, religiously speaking. The listeners, the team members, the colleagues who help us deliver our product — most are in a subculture of a subculture (as if ONE subculture isn’t tough enough!).

To clarify what I’m talking about: being Christian is in itself a subculture. If Christians were unified with no disagreements, denominations, or digressions, we would be one happy, powerful, subculture. But, alas, we have many flavors of Christianity. Thus, enters another level of subcultural-ness.

Just today, I heard a principle: the deeper a subculture grows and communicates only to and with itself, the further away from truth it gets. The answer here is that we need other voices to keep us from getting weird. And worse: “far from the truth.”

Now, I could camp out on the theological implications, but there are better trained teachers to do that. I will, however, use that principle to speak to the mixture of religion and our craft.

Because our business is about spreading God’s love (something sacred) through technology and media (okay, we’ll call that secular), we sometimes are tempted to put a guilt-tag onto something that is counter to a “best practice” in our industry. And maybe there are some God-inspired cases where you push conventional thinking aside for the awesome work of the Holy Spirit.

(Just be careful not to confuse that with indigestion from last night’s pizza.)

What am I talking about?

As I mentioned, dealing with people who are passionate about a faith defined by a subculture-within-a-subculture often screams in the face of what we know to be a best-practice. If we simply argue and put up a fight that “research proves this” or “the entire radio industry operates successfully by these principles” and give it a “so, there!” attitude — what does that accomplish?

Bonus point for assertiveness and unwavering. Subtract two points for creating a divide and three points for a missed opportunity to teach.

If you encounter someone who challenges conventional thinking, I’ve found it is always helpful to give ear — hear them out. Make sure you aren’t interjecting too soon, devaluing their opinions, or jumping to conclusions. After you’ve really listened, and only after, maybe you’ll have earned the right to carefully explain the differences. On occasion, they may have a valid point, an outside-the-box approach, or they may simply be speaking a different language than you. Dealing with vastly different approaches to business, ministry, tactics, and strategy are part of what makes life fun!

Culture Integration is taking all walks of life, all opinions and experience levels and carefully weaving them together under patient (but focused) leadership that can bring the strengths of everyone on your team along to victory.

Oh, and don’t get discouraged if change doesn’t happen overnight, or after one staff meeting. It will take consistency in walking out your mission, showing compassion for people, and passion for the vision; for the future that is the secret “simmering recipe” for harmony and unity.

P.S. One day, more specific examples. Patience, patience…

 

Daniel Britt .::. VP of Culture Integration

Tips and Strategies for Blogging

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Blog letters pinned to white wall

I’m sure this has only happened to me…  but, have you ever had the order come down from above (think more corporate, less angles) that you need to write a blog post on (x) by (x)?

If you’re like most people the first thing that escapes your lips is a whispered “how am I supposed to get this done?”.  Well, relax it might just be easier than you think!
Here are a couple of tips and strategies that might just stir the creative writing process for you!

Step 1 – Read

The first step in writing a great blog post is to know your topic and chances are you’re not the first one to ever write on your subject.  So, why reinvent the wheel?
Solomon said it best “there is nothing new under the sun”.  There is no need to make things more difficult then that have to be.  Go online and find other blog posts on your subject and gather ideas.  Notice how other bloggers have organized their thoughts, and begin to formulate your own ideas on what you want to write about.

Step 2 – The Outline

Begin putting together an outline;
  • Create a topic headline
  • Brainstorm, and develop key points
  • Write an opening and Introduction
  • Write your thoughts on the subject
  • Conclusion
The mechanics of writing are pretty simple it’s the content and your personality that give it life!  I would suggest that you include quotes from the blogs that you checked out at first (for research of course).  Then, top it all off with a call to action.
It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but after all when you post online it pretty much stays there forever! (no pressure)

Step 3 – Pen to Paper or Voice to Text?

Even if you’re not the most skilled writer in the world chances are you know how to speak.  That being said, the good news is that through the use of some very handy technology you now have an advantage over most writers in history past.

The Smart Phone

Most smart phones come with some type of voice recorder, and if not, there are plenty of apps you can download.  Record yourself talking on the key points that your blog needs to touch on, and then write or type out the content.

Dragon or voice to text software

There are more and more apps and technology that allow users to simply talk and type content directly to the page.  Budges vary and so does software cost, so be sure to take a look around and do some research.  Is this a one time deal, or have you tapped into your passion for the written word?

Elance or Fiverr.com

Too lazy to type it out, or not tech enough for talk to text?  You can always outsource the typing to someone who can.  There are plenty of people willing to transcribe your audio and even organize your outline into a proper format (for a fee of course).  Same thing as before, do your research and see if this will work for you.

Conclusion

Times are changing and many professionals will be heeding the call to blog more often.  What we make of the experience and the process will ultimately be reflected in the content we create.  So, why not enjoy it!

Nathan Gist

PAR Director of Social Media Engagement
PER Production/Imaging Director
PER Afternoon Drive Host

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

Why We Choose to Grow Organically

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Mountain-Man-Banner5

When first starting out in social media it’s easy to look at the “pros” and wonder how they do it.  Then, after staring at the mountain of media, we take our first steps;

  • We create a profile
  • We start to “Like” other pages in our industry
  • We begin adding content
  • We comment on other posts

After the initial excitement wanes, we begin to wonder why it’s taking so long for our likes to grow.

Certainly, this is not a Facebook only problem, it reaches across just about every social media platform from Twitter to Instagram, but for the sake of this article we’ll stick with Facebook.

So…

There’s gotta be a better way!

We’ve all seen ads that read something like this: “Guaranteed Facebook Likes” or “Get More Likes Fast”.

Buy-Facebook-Likes

Despite the advertisers “best intentions” for your company, or small business there’s always the nagging thought of “is this legit”?

When hiring an outside source to help build up “Likes” on your Facebook page or any other social media platform, here are some things to consider;

  • Many of these “Likes” come from fake user accounts
  • Some programs deceive users into liking pages through false actions, such as clicking on a video or article.
  • Some intermediary companies literally pay people to “Like” pages on Facebook
  • Facebook is now deleting fake “Likes”

Now think about this, you’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars learning your demographic and target audience.  For example the target demo for Positive Hits PER is a 30-35 year old mother of 2 who lives in northern or central Virginia.  When you purchase “likes” or systems that promise to deliver a huge audience you have to consider who they are, and where their coming from.

If I purchased a 1,000 or 10,000 “Likes” on Facebook and they’re not within PER’s listening audience, and they’re mostly older or younger men, then I have wasted my money.

Also, when it come to these quick “Like” programs there is no relationship built, no connection made, and no telling if the audience you picked up even knows if they’ve ‘Liked” you.

Finally, purchasing “likes” may end up costing you money in the long run.  Prime example, if you try and engage with your audience through a “boosted post” or Facebook ad you are essentially paying Facebook money to promote to a fake audience.

Try explaining that to cooperate!

Organic Growth 

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Organic growth is growth that comes from a company’s existing businesses, as opposed to growth that comes from buying new businesses.”

Growing your brand organically is a much slower process, but it brings a massive advantage when it comes to audience engagement.

Such as;

  • Audience rapport with the brand.
  • The audience’s expectations of the kind of content you’ll be posting
  • Your audience is more likely to comment, share, or like your post

Think tortoise not hare!

Grow your audience through posts that connect, conversations that inspire and inform, and show that you are more than just simply another brand.  Become a friend!

In closing, organic takes time, and your numbers may look low, but ultimately, the relationships you build and the content you share will give you the win!

Be Blessed!

Nathan Gist

PAR Director of Social Media Engagement
PER Production/Imaging Director
PER Afternoon Drive Host

Pictures Tell a Story

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pictures worth a 1000 words

“A picture’s worth a thousand words…”

When you get home tonight, look around your house at the many pictures you have hung up.  If you are at your desk right now, look around at the pictures of your friends and family.

Those pictures tell a story.

They tell of family vacations, graduations, a loving union, a birth of a child, etc. Whatever the picture is, it says something to you. A picture conveys much more than you could ever say in words.

As humans, we are visual creatures. We like to look on the beauty of what God has created, and we want to somehow capture it.  In a picture, something right in front of us, we’re able to keep seeing it.

So human beings love to take pictures and look at them… what does that have to do with our websites? EVERYTHING!

When someone visits your website, your home online, you have the opportunity to grab their attention. But you have a short period of time to do that and limited space too. So what is the most effective way to get them to buy into your web presence?

Pictures and graphics!

What kind of pictures should I post?

The message in the picture should match the message you are trying to get across. Recently, our Spirit FM team hosted diaper drives for several local pregnancy centers. Instead of using a banner with simple text on it, we used a picture of a mom and a baby. This picture set the tone for our drives, related to the lives of our listeners and told a story that spoke volumes.

What did the picture of the mom and the baby say?

  1. Your donation is helping moms care for their babies.
  2. Remember what it was like to have little ones?
  3. Remember how much diapers cost?
  4. You could be a blessing to this young mom.
  5. There is no greater love you can give a mom than to help her take care of her baby.
  6. You’re helping a mom say yes to life.

To each person that picture said something different, something we could have never conveyed in words alone.

When choosing a picture for your website or social media:

  1. Make sure it tells a story.
  2. Make sure it fits the tone of your printed words.
  3. Make sure you have a high quality picture.  It should be clear, not grainy, and it should fit correctly physically, etc.
  4. Make sure they fit your stations demographic.  Just like we analyze on-air breaks and how they could relate to “her” better, do the same thing before posting a graphic.  Make sure it’s something that would connect with her.
  5. Make sure it fits your stations story.  Every word spoken on-air, every status on Facebook, every graphic on the website is a continuation of your stations story.  Make sure the graphics continue that story!

As radio stations, we are always thinking about the on-air product but sometimes forget about the other media we produce.  Remember your website is a part of your station, it’s a representation of it.  Graphics play a huge role in the success of your website, so pick wisely!!!

~Colleen Larkins

Assistant Manager Spirit FM, PAR website coordinator

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

Planting the Gospel

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gardening picture

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

Facebook’s 20% Text Rule

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ComputerFrustration

Most of the time I try to stay positive…. when dealing with Facebook’s 20% text rule I have to admit I went the other direction for a temper tantrum or 5!

So, what is Facebook’s 20% rule?

Via Facebook:

“Ads that have more than 20% of text in their image won’t be approved to run in News Feed.”

Seems simple enough right?  Yeah, not so much…

The rule itself is understandable, last thing we want to do is to clog up people’s News Feeds with endless post that look like spam or want ads in your local newspaper.

Here’s why the rule makes me crazy:  It’s not consistent and you never know if it’s actually going to be enforced.

This week I began a Facebook ad campaign for Positive Hits PER.  We are a listener supported station, and the purpose of the ads were to drive listeners to click on the image and be directed to our “giving” webpage.  Here’s one images we used as a boosted post.

Don-&-Happy

I micro-targeted the ad to specific listening areas, specific interests for our demographic, set the budget, and VOILA!  

As far as I could tell the boosted post was up and running, and just about the time I was about pat myself on the back… I noticed that the ad after 3 hours had only received 701 views… did you hear the tire screeching sound?

After reviewing the ad here’s the message I received:

Not boosted because

First of all, there is the annoyance of thinking that for the past 3 hours my ad was running and changing the world (you can always hope)!   When in reality, it was simply sitting there taunting me…

Second, this same image worked perfectly fine for other Facebook ads, why not for this boosted post?

The Grid

Facebook created a grid that you can upload your photos to and find out if you are using too much text or not.  You can find the grid tool Here.

The problem with the grid is that it measures whether or not the text is more than 20% of the grid, and not whether the text is really more than 20% of the photo.

So, even if you don’t actually have more than 20% text… text size, and even text placement can kill your photo’s chances of making through the gauntlet of Facebook’s approval.   Oddly enough, sometimes (depending on how long you run the ad) it makes it through and does the job.

With a little bit of editing, and a lot more hope, we submitting the following post.

Don-&-Happy-Ad

Approved and running! Whew!

Recommendations:

  1. Use the Grid!
  2. Keep most of your text in the status of the post rather than the picture.
  3. Whisper a prayer or two!

We may not like the tools we have to use, but adaption comes with the territory in social media.  Our craft, and the art of what we do shows itself in the work we create, and even recreate!

Be Blessed!

Nathan Gist

PAR Director of Social Media Engagement
PER Production/Imaging Director
PER Afternoon Drive Host

 

 

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