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.
Positive Alternative Radio
The two words, “reliability” and “redundancy” are the key principals behind assuring that your radio station is broadcasting twenty-four hours per day. Ideally, our radio stations would be on the air every second of every day but that is never physically possible. However, there are many steps that can be taken and systems that can be built to reduce the amount of time off the air.
Reliability is measured by the amount of time “on the air” at your radio station. For our radio stations, we want that number to be somewhere between 99.9% and 99.99% on the air. That corresponds to between four and forty-four minutes of downtime on average per month. 99.9% is very good but 99.99% would be considered about the highest echelon of reliability that we can achieve.
We achieve redundancy through two different methods: having good quality equipment/systems that we can trust and building redundant backup systems to our main operations.
High quality equipment and systems is paramount to providing a high level of reliability. To do so, we must invest in equipment that is robust and not prone to failures. Equipment and systems that are prone to failure should be replaced with improved systems or redundant backup systems. High quality equipment in the main air chain of the radio station should be business class quality and not consumer grade.
Redundancy is the next step to providing a high level of reliability for your radio station. Redundancy systems at the radio station will increase your reliability by providing an alternate system to your normal operations, to compensate for a failure. One common example is an emergency standby generator at your studio or transmitter site. A generator system will monitor your power provided by the power company and in the event of a failure, it will start the generator. The generator will provide an alternate source of electrical power to your location until the power company can restore service.
In addition to backup generators, there are many other systems that can be built to increase reliability through redundancy to your radio station:
a) Backup studios in which to broadcast in the event of a major failure in your main studio
b) Backup programming on CD or computer that can be played in the event of an automation computer failure
c) An auxiliary broadcast antenna and/or transmitter site in the event of a major failure at your main transmitter site
d) Backup transmitter at your main transmitter site in the event of a failure on your broadcast transmitter
e) Alternate signal delivery methods from the studio to your transmitter site such as an Internet backup to your microwave audio delivery, satellite or telephone line
f) Audio switchers in your studios that can bypass a console or piece of equipment in the event of a broadcast console failure
All of these systems have the same purpose — to keep you on the air. These systems can seamlessly and automatically switch to backup systems in the event of a failure which will greatly reduce the amount of time off the air and improve your reliability.
David Hodges, Director of Engineering
Positive Alternative Radio
Often times when asked to describe your radio station the answers may come easy. To you, “who” and “what you are” and “what you’re all about” should be obvious to all.
Truthfully this may not always be the case and we may be fooled into thinking it is by the supporter’s closest to us. They reinforce to you that your perception of you is true. They give you financial support and show up to concerts and remotes and even know the names of everyone on your team.
Perception is an interesting study, so much so that even Jesus did some perceptual research Himself! Yep, Jesus!!
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Now obviously there was a greater God given revelation at work here but Jesus was obviously polling the room and the answers He got certainly had some inconsistencies.
The same Jesus, with the same miracles and the same words; yet those out of the inner circle couldn’t quite put their finger on “who” He was!!
Who do they say you are? Are you that religious station in town or that place that gives hope and encouragement? Are you fun and down to earth or super spiritual? What do they say?
Everything matters!! Consistency matters and most importantly Perception matters!! Your ability to impact lives for Christ depends on it.
Perception is nine tenths of the Law.
Frankie, Vice President of Programming
Positive Hits, PER General Manager
A passion for what you do is critical to achieving excellence consistently. It is the difference between one who is all “In” and another who is just “Clockin’ In.”
If audio production is not your “passion” and you’re charged with that responsibility at your radio station, it can be an overwhelmingly heavy weight. In small market radio and many medium market stations, you may wear multiple hats. Someone must be in charge of production. Tag, you’re it!
Okay, so audio production is not your passion. Perhaps you are proficient with the administrative side of this vital area of operations, but you lack some of the skills to really do masterful audio work. A few pointers of how to approach this creative and subjective craft could help develop the “must do” part of your work into a real “passion” for it.
Isaiah “Izzy” Knight, Afternoon Host and Media Director at Spirit FM in Roanoke/Lynchburg, Virginia, has some tips that just may be what the doctor ordered.
Knight says, “Creating efficiencies and working smarter will provide you time to create a more effective and compelling product.” Here’s what he recommends:
“Audition CC and CS6 have a feature called ‘Templates.’ It is an easy way to have your toolbox of SFX and Beds automatically loaded with your rack presets ready to go. Just set up your session and export it as a template. If you have an older version, just set up a blank session and save it to your desktop. Just remember to hit ‘Save As.’
Set up a rack for each voice-over person you have. Unless they’re voicing a spot in another studio, you should never have to tweak their audio again after it is set (unless you’re going for a new effect, of course).
Have a voice tracker or other outside dry voice audio? Batch process their files using your settings to give them a bit more punch and match your station.
There are several ways to approach this workflow. It needs to be simple, provide accountability and include enforceable deadlines for each person in the process. Knight prefers paperless. If budget is an issue for you, going digital can be done FREE by using Google Docs. Create a form with the fields you need and it will automatically populate the spreadsheet. This operation is working very well at Spirit FM. If you have a budget for third party vendor software, Vcreative is a good tool at www.vcreativeinc.com.
Make these deadlines, presets and templates standard operating procedure. Standardizing your work flow will save you time in the long run and the continuity will make your station(s) sound significantly better.”
You never know…what is a “just get it done” drudgery to you now, may grow into a passion you never dreamed of, bringing all your hidden creative talents into full bloom. And that’s excellence!
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 moment, I 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!
Director of Partner Services
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
Jeremy Wolfe / Walk-FM