When you work in the broadcast industry long enough, you become accustomed to seeing your radio tower with lighting that comes on at night. These lights are required by the Federal Aviation Administration as a protective measure for aircraft to spot dangers in the sky such as radio towers. In the dark, these lights may be the only sign to pilots of the impending danger of piloting an aircraft into a radio tower.
There are many different configurations of lights that go on the radio tower. Radio towers less than 200’ rarely need to have lights unless they are located near an airport. One of the most common configurations is for radio towers that are between 200’ and 400’ is to have two sets of lights: two or more solid burning red lights half-way up the tower and a flashing red beacon bulb on the top of the tower. There are many other configurations for tower lights including strobe lights which I will omit for the purposes of this article.
The industry is trending to replace the incandescent bulbs on towers with LED technology, just as many people have done in their homes. For years, the standard tower lights have been incandescent bulbs that are located within glass fixtures on the radio tower. These bulbs are similar to your household light bulbs and in many cases just as fragile. They have many downsides which have led people to transition away to LED technology.
The two biggest considerations for changing to LED technology are energy-efficiency and low cost of maintenance. LED light bulb technology allows for a lower energy usage to produce the same amount of luminance compared to incandescent. One manufacturer’s lights will reduce electricity charges from $900 with incandescent to $23 per year with LEDs. That is a considerable amount of energy savings!
The second area where LED technology is improving is in reliability. Many LED systems are designed to last ten years without any maintenance or replacement of parts. In comparison, incandescent bulbs need to be changed every 12 to 18 months. The bulbs are inexpensive (usually under $100) but the cost of hiring a tower crew to replace those bulbs can cost over $1000.
In comparison of incandescent and LED technology, one manufacturer estimates the return of investment in LED tower light technology to be almost $13,000 over a ten year period. Many radio tower owners are now switching their tower lighting systems to LED technology. In a few years, the incandescent tower light bulb will go the way of the tube television, cassette tape & 35mm camera.
David Hodges, Director of Engineering
Positive Alternative Radio
Is your recognition linked to your core values? They should be linked!
We talk a lot about developing a culture of appreciation. Just saying, “thank-you” is a great first step. But to truly go deeper and name specifics related to the team member; their talent, their attention to detail, or their intentional actions will go a long way towards making your team feel really special and truly valued.
Here’s my challenge: link your recognition (whether a note of encouragement or special gift of recognition) with a specific core value of your company. Connect the dots! Say thank you, but show them WHY you are thankful and why it was important they live out that particular value of your organization.
Can you chart your intentional appreciation as a dashboard? When a leader connects appreciation to a core value, it can provide a clear view of how your team and specific team members are living them out!
I’d go so far as encouraging team members to use this when showing appreciation amongst themselves. Appreciation from peers is powerful and can have a similar effect like a fond yearbook.
If leaders are included and witness appreciation not only from the top, down — but also lateral appreciation from peer-to-peer – this is incredible material that can documented to include in performance reviews. (Note: performance reviews should be used as a rear view mirror in order to keep you moving ahead on the right road. But, that’s a different subject for a future article!). Think of this as an annual report (ever compiled a radio station of the year entry report?): especially include other co-workers celebration and recognition for a truly effective culmination of that team member’s positive impact.
Bottom line: Tie the areas you recognize and appreciate in each other specifically to one of our 5 Ways of Being (Core Values).
Daniel Britt .::. VP of Culture Integration
On a recent tour of PAR radio stations we focused on one question. How do we personally define the win for your radio station?
For most PAR radio stations, it overwhelmingly came down to community impact and hitting home runs for Christ!
From there, we listened to our CMB radio station of the year submissions where there were many home runs because it is a sample of our best work. In some cases it took hours of audio to come up with the best 15 minutes to submit but there were incredible moments of excellence.
The point of the exercise was this…Your radio station hits home runs a lot and if you go into your audio folders it’s easy to pick them out.
BUT: What if the audio for the CMB presentation could only come from yesterday’s broadcast? What if you could not cherry pick? Would there be any home runs for the win?
My guess would be yes but is there enough happening consistently to win? Why not strive to make every day a CMB quality presentation?
Now, please don’t get me wrong. Even the best hitters don’t hit home runs every day! In fact they strike out more than anybody else. This is more about mindset and doing the best you can to win for your listeners every day!
Winning is intentional and it takes a lot of practice and yes even a lot of strike outs. Let’s take each day and swing for the bleachers and overtime we will hit more home runs; together we will win this race!!
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours.
Vice President of Programming
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
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
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