Christian Radio

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 cooperate, 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

Equal Employment Opportunity and the FCC

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EEOC LOGO

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.

 

Dan Franks

General Manager, Joy FM

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

Reliability and Redundancy

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Reliability definition

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

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

Who do they say that you are?

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girls whispering

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!!

Matthew 16:13-20

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

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

Being FCC Friendly

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FCC logo

Every station is required to serve the public they are licensed to.  This requires special programming that is beneficial to and serves our community’s interests.  At the end of every quarter, we are required to fill out a report that shows we have effectively fulfilled our public issues requirements. Here are some things you can do to fulfill those requirements and things that you may be doing, that really don’t count:

The easiest way to show you are meeting the needs of your community:

  • By doing a half-hour issues oriented program every weekend.  It’s as simple as interviewing your mayor, economic development director, Chamber director or any non-profit organization that is having a positive impact on your community.
  • You can also use any remotes where you are interviewing non-profit organizations that are benefiting the community.  If you were at a Red Cross event to raise funds for families whose homes have been burned down, that would count.

What doesn’t count?

  • Church programs.  This was something that stations used to do all the time on Sunday mornings to fulfill their requirements.  However, it was later ruled that church programs are too limited in terms of fulfilling the needs of the entire community.
  • If you’re airing a one minute “health tip” or “family minute”, that doesn’t count either.  The feeling is that you can’t adequately cover/discuss a topic of local interest in just a minute.  The program needs to be at least ten minutes in length for consideration.

How much time should you devote to public issues every quarter?  You should do at a minimum, 10 hours of issues programming.  If you air a half hour program on Saturday and repeat that program on Sunday morning that would be one hour per week.  Over the course of three months, you will have at least 12 hours of issues-oriented programming. It’s that simple.

Programmers have a hard time breaking format to provide this programming but remember this isn’t a choice you get to make.  It’s a requirement of the FCC.  An hour interruption each week in your typical programming is far less painful than an FCC fine.

One final note on your public issues report: make sure it’s filed no later than the 10th day after the quarter is completed.  This means your report should be in your public file no later than April 10th, July 10th, October 10th and January 10th (for 4th quarter of the prior year).

 

Dan Franks

Joy FM General Manager

JUST GET IT DONE!

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clocking in

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 youre 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, youre 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.”  Heres what he recommends:

TEMPLATES

“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.’

PRESETS

Set up a rack for each voice-over person you have.  Unless theyre voicing a spot in another studio, you should never have to tweak their audio again after it is set (unless youre going for a new effect, of course).

BATCH PROCESSING

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.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES

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.

POLICY

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 thats excellence!

 

Marc Tischart

General Manager

Spirit FM

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