I read an interesting quote the other day, by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp…”Perfectionism is slow death *by self.*It will kill your skill, your spark, your art, your soul.” I am a huge fan of Ann’s writings but I have to admit this quote wasn’t my favorite mainly because it made me squirm in my chair, stepped on my toes! I struggle with my own perfectionism, every.single.day! I do grasp the value of her words and there’s great wisdom in what she says. Perhaps for me the goal should become pursuing excellence rather than being perfection-driven. I am (slowly) grasping that as much as we’d like to deliver a perfect experience for our donors every time they interact with us, sadly we will fail. We can come mighty close to that goal though if we consistently strive for excellence and pay attention to details!
So, where am I going with this? What I can’t stress enough is the emphasis on striving for excellence (I so want to say perfection!) when handling donor information. There’s such value in sending out correspondence in which the donor’s name is correctly spelled and we include the correct last gift information, if pertinent. Does it ever irk you to receive mail in which your name is misspelled or even the wrong name, but your address? When a donor calls with an inquiry about their pledge or gift information we want them to hear the correct pledge amount or to be assured that we are drafting their account on the day they requested, using the proper payment information. If we promise a certain premium or giveaway, it matters that we fulfill that promise in a timely manner, sending the correct item. In situations like these, details truly matter; are the things we should strive to get right, every time! Now do you see why I’m driven to perfection??
The bottom line is this…although it may sound as boring as watching paint dry; data entry is a key element in delivering a great experience for our donors. See, I’m learning…I didn’t say perfect that time! Getting it right might generate enough trust for the donor to call us with yet another gift or even make the jump to trusting us with monthly automatic payment information. “Suzy Jones” receiving a piece of mail addressed to “Suzy Owns” isn’t likely going to create the experience we were hoping for! A single gift of $100 being charged $100 monthly could cause quite the angst for a donor! Imagine the disappointment when a family receives an XL shirt after the mom requested a small shirt for her little boy, at the time she made their pledge. My goal in sharing these examples is to help you appreciate why we data entry types focus so much on details and why they are important to our donors. I leave you with this point to ponder…As you staff your phone rooms for Sharathon, hire your office staff you likely want to choose people who have an eye (and ear!) for details and perhaps a small bent towards perfection.
Director of Partner Services
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.
General Manager, WCQR
Jesus loved to tell parables…sometimes they are easy to understand and are usually applicable to many situations. The parable of the sower and the seed, when applied in the context of underwriting, shows those businesses we walk into every week, where we are attempting to plant and grow a relationship to spread the gospel.
Some of our visits land on businesses along the path, fall on deaf ears and die and wither away. They just don’t understand what we are attempting to do through Christian radio regardless of our presentation.
Others will land among the rocks; those businesses will accept our ministry and are excited to help. They will sprout but there is just not enough soil for the root to sustain growth due to budget woes or customers complaints when they play the station in their business, making them quickly fall away. They tried it but it just wasn’t worth the trouble and persecution.
Others will be among the thorns…excited for Christian music and the effects of the ministry…they may grow for months, even years, but eventually hit sticky points with a multitude of excuses, budget cuts, bad economy, whatever the worry and those thorns will choke them out and their support dies.
Then there is the seed that finds the good soil. Their support grows deep, they see the impact; how God blesses our listeners and their clientele everyday. They don’t necessarily have to see results because they have ears and have heard. They know the sun (or the Son) will be there tomorrow to bless and continue to give what is needed to sustain life. Tend to and cultivate their good soil. Ask them to help grow referrals and references. They can help produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown… where we can create and deliver experiences that will encourage our listeners to live, and grow passionately for Jesus Christ.
We want to leave a mark on the lives of many that will last forever. Don’t settle for anything less.
Director of Underwriting
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
How would you respond if you opened the mail and found a letter from the EEO asking how well you have complied with their EEO rules? Brace yourself because 180 stations are getting a letter like that. In fact, the FCC says they plan to audit five percent of all stations each year. In other words, if you don’t get the letter this year, you may be part of the five percent next year.
We have discussed this before but since this is coming up in a tangible way, I realize I may have more of your attention. So, here are the basics as provided by our attorney:
1) If you have 5 or more full-time employees (defined as working 30 or more hours per week), this applies to you.
2) You need to have an “outreach program” to notify significant groups when a job opening occurs. The program needs to cover a wide range of diverse segments of the population.
3) You need to let the community know of your outreach programs through on-air announcements and other means so that organizations can request to be a part of your outreach program.
4) You are to educate the public about the duties of broadcast jobs and the necessary qualifications for these positions. This is to be done even when you do NOT have a job opening. This can be done in various ways:
A) Attend job fairs
B) Conduct internship programs
C) Speak at community groups or educational institutions about broadcast careers.
D) Set up in-house training programs on EEO issues.
While our attorney has not seen any fines levied yet for point 4, he sees the FCC as possibly wanting to send a “message” by enforcing this item to make sure we’re taking EEO policies seriously.
Don’t forget your EEO report should be posted on your website.
General Manager, Joy FM
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