Radio Isn’t Dead, Just Different

Radio Isn’t Dead, Just Different

There are many people who say radio is dead or dying. Some say it’s happening while others say, no more people are listening today than ever before. According to Nielsen’s Audio Today report in April, 271 million Americans, or 93 percent of the country, tune in every week. While that’s a lot, I believe radio is still being listened to, but people are listening differently.

In the day of personal mobile devices people are used to hearing their favorite songs on Pandora or Spotify, or listening to their favorite news makers through their podcasts or YouTube. They listen when THEY want to, not when a radio station decides to air a song or popular news maker or entertainer. Intense, interactive, engaged listening is happen more with that technology and LESS with radio.

Our P1 listeners are still there, but in my opinion, they’re fewer. With more radio stations, especially Christians radio stations, being “family friendly and commercial free” or “positive and encouraging” there are more P2 and P3 listeners who are less engaged in their local stations. They’re more button pushers than engages listeners.

I still believe in radio. However, as a program producer, I don’t view it as a way to immediately add revenue to our bottom line. It’s more of a marketing strategy for us. The more we’re heard on radio stations the more name recognition we have. The more name recognition we have the more people will respond to our call to action whether it be through donations, subscriptions, or other kinds of engagement.

The difficult part of this phenomenon is that because Christian radio stations have fewer P1 listeners, in my opinion, they have fewer major donors. But, because they’re playing the music they like, providing compelling talk segments, and aren’t offending anyone, they do have more moms listening. But they’re not giving as much and aren’t as connected because of it.

While some argue there are more people listening, they’re listening less. Time spent listening is dropping up to 1 percent each year. Why? Because more people primarily listen to terrestrial radio while they’re commuting. Mostly because they don’t have radios in their homes. According to Edison Research’s Infinite Dial survey 6 percent of people age 18-34 surveyed in 2008 reported not owning a home radio; in 2018, that went up to 50 percent. 

The number of people listening to radio stations through mobile apps and smart speakers is increasing, though, according to Jacobs Media’s 2018 Tech Survey. For program producers like Keys for Kids, this technology will help us because we don’t necessarily need local radio to get our message out, just a good marketing strategy.

I believe the bottom line is that radio isn’t dying it’s just changing. With few terrestrial AM/FM radios in the market and fewer new cars making radio a priority on car dashboards, radio will have to do more to be compelling to keep its listenership. That means more multi-media content and social media exposure to create that new activity.


You say kids can’t focus?

9579df5e-4897-4999-8830-dfaf65cc9055-2060x1236I’ve been involved in Christian radio since 1984. I’ve seen full-service, Inspo, Light AC, Christian Hit Radio, full blown AC, talk and probably everything in between. As a Christian radio listener, you’re probably jumping from station to station. You have your favorite Top-40, News Talk, Oldies and yes, your favorite Christian station. You may even have multiple levels of favorites for each.

You think your kids can’t focus?

Chances are the longest you spend on any of those stations is 10 to 15 minutes. What makes you turn the channel?  When you hear something you don’t want to hear. You’re right, kids can’t focus either. But, it’s not because they don’t like something. How do I know this?  Because most boys can spend HOURS in front of a video game

So, what’s the take away from this?  Make radio like a video game. You laugh, but think about it. If you provide kids radio programming that allows their minds to get the same stimulation they get from a video game, you’ve hit a home run. The challenge is, most kids don’t want to sit and listen to radio anymore. They want more and they’re getting it through either their own or their parents mobile devices.

That’s what’s interesting about reaching kids today. You don’t NEED radio to do it. It’s going to help, but your success isn’t as dependent on it. Frankly, we have our own radio stations in the palm of our hands.

2KidsPhoneChristian radio professionals know this. Frankly, they have to be worried. While young people are listening to music, they’re not listening to it on radio stations. They’re listening on things like Pandora or Spotify. They do listen when mom and dad are listening, but  they tend to want what they want. They select the kinds of songs they want, filling their own musical choices, and supplement those choices with online interests to give them a multi-media extravaganza.

Keys for Kids Ministries is in the process of investing into something that kids don’t need to be on, but want to be involved with. It’s going to be an app on steroids. We want music, audio, video, games and things we don’t even know about yet. Our desire is to provide a cutting edge, kid-friendly, kid-craved, media platform that will not only point kids to Christ, but encourage them to grow in their faith.

What does this mean for the future of Christian radio? Radio stations (Christian and non-Christian) need to be ready to provide multi-media platforms to reach young people, especially as they become teenagers. While they may settle down a bit, craving to be entertained as they learn won’t go away.


Christmas should be Christian Radio’s Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s Christmas time. For those of us who love the season, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. For Radio Broadcasters who play the same Christmas music over and over again, not so much. While Christmas should be the most wonderful time of the year, more often than not I hear Christian radio professionals complaining about the season.

As Christians, let’s think about this for a moment. If we’re really in this profession to point people to Christ every day, why wouldn’t we welcome Christmas?

Getting ready for Christmas in radio seems to be prompted by the commercialism of the season.When I first got started in Christian radio we gradually incorporated Christmas music. The first station I worked for, was very traditional. We couldn’t play any songs that weren’t Christian Christmas songs. If it talked about a winter wonderland, or Santa Claus it didn’t get aired. We started off playing one song every four, and gradually adding more until a few weeks before Christmas.

GregSharathonLater in my career we get a little more liberal. We aired songs that were traditional Christmas carols and seasonal favorites as well as the old Christian standards. We would air “White Christmas”, “Have Yourself and Merry Little Christmas”, and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” kind of songs.

Today, more and more Christians stations are airing all of the same songs all of the other stations are airing. Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. While I love those songs, the question I have is, what makes Christian Radio stand out if we’re playing these songs? Or, another question could be; since we’re playing these same songs how can we as Christian radio professionals point listeners to Christ, which is our professional calling (at least it’s mine)? What’s interested some Christian stations are deciding to make it a mix of secular and Christian Christmas music.

What I dislike the most of about Christmas music on secular radio is that they don’t really understand WHY we’re celebrating Christmas, so they air Christmas music without any rhyme or reason. I would hear the Hallelujah Chorus followed by, I Saw Mommy Kissin Santa Claus back to back.  There’s just something sacrilegious about that, isn’t there?

Christian Radio is uniquely qualified to be the experts in Christmas and WHY we celebrate. I believe it’s our duty to remind listeners that the reason we celebrate is because God sent his only Son to earth to provide salvation to ALL who believe.

So, how do we do that when we’re airing songs like, I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Should Christian Radio be different from other radio stations at Christmas, or should we be similar.

Is it more than family friendly, positive and encouraging?

I just celebrated my 25th year in Christian radio — 27 if you count my time I was on the air in school. When I got involved in Christian radio, we were playing ‘middle of the road’ music and programs that were generally preachers and teachers. Most radio stations had a news department. It was an important part of almost every station. The news and information they provided were stories that focused on headline news, but also news that dealt with social issues like abortion and homosexuality.

In the late 1980’s and early 90’s Christians began talking about the ethics of only promoting a Christian news agenda. In other words, was it right only telling the ‘Christian’ side of the story, rather than air a story that had both view points? Some Christian journalists said it was important for them to be fair (presenting both viewpoints), but to keep their Christian perspective. Others thought it was best only to provide the Christian viewpoint, since the liberal media was already presenting theirs. It was a balance.

In the mid 1990’s Christian radio shifted away from news and talk. In other words, many radio stations focused on music. These stations took off Focus on the Family, Insight for Living and news, to focus on providing music – Contemporary Christian music. The thought was, “give them music — what they want to hear, and not give them any reason to turn the dial.”

This had positive and negative ripple effects.

  1. It hurt many ministries who were dependent on radio stations (because they were no longer on the air).
  2. News became less of a focus (almost no focus).
  3. Forced Christians to get their news from a non-Christian worldview.
  4. Praise and worship music grew and flourished, allowing more Christian artists to make it into the mainstream.
  5. It gave more power to the record labels.
  6. Pushed Christian radio to be more pleasurable to listen to.
  7. Brought the sayings like “Family Friendly” “Positive and Encouraging” “Commercial Free” “Christian Hit Radio” and others.

Today, some Christian radio stations are concerned with being ‘Family Friendly’ and ‘Positive and Encouraging’. They want to make sure entire families can listen to their station all the time with having to turn the dial. Unfortunately, that prevents Christians from hearing important information (good or bad) to help and encourage them to make a difference in their communities and around the world.

I work for a radio station group whose leadership believes in providing news that makes a difference so Christians can make a difference — even though their slogan is “Family friendly/commercial free.” While most people won’t tell you they ‘like’ the news, they know it’s an important part of their programming.

However, there are other stations that won’t even play Mission Network News because it’s not encouraging enough. At the most recent National Religious Broadcasters convention and a recent station recruiting trip, I ran into more radio stations program directors who won’t air MNN. They claim telling stories of Christian who’s are persecuted for their faith, human trafficking rescues, and God using tragedy to bring people to Himself isn’t radio that they want their listeners to hear — it’s not family friendly.

Today, young people (16-25) are looking for ways to make a difference. They want to know about the injustice in the world.  Not because they enjoy hearing the bad news, but because they truly believe they can do something about it.

At the most recent Urbana Conference, the world’s largest student missions conference, the majority of young people we interviewed confirmed that. In the last couple of years, organizations like International Justice Mission have seen participation from young people grow 10 fold.

My question is: Why wouldn’t most Christian radio stations WANT to talk about issues that will encourage Christians to be James 1:22 Christians? That verse is clear that we need to be doers of the world, and not hearers only.

Now, I understand that Christian radio stations want to provide programming where parents don’t have to be afraid to have their kids listening to the radio. I know you may not want you ears listening to all of these issues. But, at the same time, it can be teachable moments.  Other times, it’s just a good time to turn off the radio for a moment.

So, what’s my conclusion?  I really don’t have one.

I can see the need for family friendliness. There are a lot of radio stations using this philosophy.  Is there a need for Christian radio stations like the one I work with? Of course! My only concern is that there are fewer and fewer Christian radio stations that are providing news and information that are giving believers a true picture of our need to be involved.

Some station program directors have even said to me, “If they want full service news, they can get it from the news/talk station.”  But, do you really want Christians getting a non-Christian worldview of the news? There are a lot of issues attached to this.

Being that I’m a radio journalist, you know what side of the fence I’m sitting on, but I’d like to hear your comments.

Hate Speech Crimes Coming to the USA — I told you

I received this article from Radio Ink, a service I subscribe to for obvious reason. Today It featured the following article.

“June 2, 2010: A group of 30 organizations, including the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Prometheus Radio Project, and the Rainbow Push Coalition, have asked the FCC to “examine the extent and effects of hate speech in media, including the likely link between hate speech and hate crimes, and to explore non-regulatory ways to counteract its negative impacts.” The filing, in the Future of Media proceeding, calls the current media landscape “a safe haven for hate and extremism” and says that is exacerbated by media consolidation.

The groups also say such “hate” is a “profit model for syndicated radio and cable television programs masquerading as ‘news.'” The filing points to smaller numbers of working journalists, adding that the Internet is not a substitute for traditional media and is in any event “inundated with hate speech.”

What constitutes “hate speech” is not defined in the filing, but the groups nonetheless urge the FCC to collect data on it as an “essential task, even if the commission does nothing more than turn that information over to the public, researchers, and other government entities.” That, says the filing, will help the NHMC and other groups to “hold the media accountable.”

The FCC’s authority over content is very limited, extending only to indecency, children’s TV requirements, and political equal time. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has also recently filed a complaint with the FCC related to content that the group considered a “call to violence” by KPRC/Houston talk host Michael Berry.”

While there nothing in this story that suggests they group is advocating new laws restricting free speech — you know where this is heading. In fact, I told you it was coming.

May people have responded to my blogs when President Obama was running for office. They said my criticism of him was unwarranted. They told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. They told me that I was just some right wing Republican, angry at change.

Well, look out. Everything I’ve been saying is coming true. The President Obama signed Hate Crimes Legislation. He passed Socialized health care, he’s inserted Chicago style politics into the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate race. And, now it appears the FCC may be tipping its hand toward a ‘hate speech’ bill — under the guise of FCC investigation. Perhaps it was begin restricting speech on radio first.


Ann Coulter Nixed in Ottawa

It was an interesting day in Canada yesterday. University of Ottawa’s decision to cancel conservative Ann Coulter’s appearance has renewed debate over freedom of expression on campus. It’s also opened the debate about the so called, ‘hate speech and its definition. More importantly, it’s a road we’re facing as American Christian radio professionals in a rapidly change world both politically, socially and religiously.

As I was watching the news last night I noticed protesters at the University toxic in their opposition to  Ann Coulter.  Watch this video:

The interesting part of this interview is at 1:01 into the report where the woman says, “We don’t believe the Ann Coulter is here to exercise her freedom of expression. We believe, indeed, that she’s exercising hate speech.”  Is this woman now the thought police?  How does she know Ann Coulter’s motives. And, how is it that she isn’t exercising hate speech against Ann Coulter or those they’re opposing in the crowd? These people weren’t being forced to attend. Conservatives invited her to come. She was their guest and these people felt it was their right to impose their ‘beliefs’ on other people.

That’s the problem with laws the prohibit free speech. How can you prove someone is saying something because they want to harm someone, or incites someone to hurt a person? A crime against someone is hate. You exercise hate when you violate someone’s the human rights. In my mind these very vocal protesters violated the rights of Canadian conservatives.  Under THEIR law, they should be prosecuted, right?

Christian Radio in the United States has been free for a long time. We’ve been openly been able to talk about the abortion issue. We’ve openly talked about what the Bible says about homosexuality and other sexual sins. Christian radio has encouraged Christians to become involved in the political process. Organizations like Focus On the Family and American Family Association have helped Christians send a message to Washington as it relates to religious freedom and biblical morality in our nation. Will that soon be concerned hate speech based on someone’s ‘feeling’ or ‘belief.’

This type of legislation is so subjective that in the hands of the wrong people could propel our nation into a police state, similar to the likes of the former Soviet Union or an extreme example, North Korea.

Pray for our nation. More importantly, pray for revival in our churches. Christians need to be renewed.

Obama-Mania and news about ‘Censorship Doctrine

I have been struggling what to write about President Obama’s Address to Congress this week. It has been a long time since I’ve lost sleep over a speech I heard on television, but this week I actually lost sleep. Not because I don’t think God is in control, but because I’m beginning to mourn for our culture and America as we knew her.

Why am I responding this way?  Because we elected a President who has no experience, has no vision, he doesn’t believe in the American people, he thinks government is the answer to all our problems and has surrounded him by a ‘Chicago Styles’ political system that isn’t interested America, but is more interested in power and doing away with their enemies.

I’m also mourning the death of journalism today. In the minds-eye of our founding fathers, the press was supposed to be the ‘Truth Tellers.’ They were supposed to be the tool used to keep our elected officials accountable to the people who elected them. They we supposed to provide unbiased news and information about issues that were/are being discussed on all levels. Today, journalists are providing news and information that HELP their candidate. Look no further than MSNBC who had nothing but negative comments about Governor Bobby Jindal’s remarks to Obama’s speech, while being nothing but glowing about the Obama performance.

I also mourn the Republic the we once knew in the U-S. Why? This leads me to why I mourn for our nation.

The United States is quickly turning into a Socialistic nation. Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating public or state ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities for all individuals, with a fair or egalitarian method of compensation. Did you hear that in President Obama’s speech this week?  I certainly did. That’s what kept me awake this week. He’s not looking to tax everyone (yet), he just wants to penalize the wealthy (those making $250,000 annually). He wants to take money from them, and give it to more bank bailouts, people who don’t have health insurance and those who fail to pay the credit card and mortgage payments.  While I’m not in the $250,000 salary range, I think this is totally unfair and un-American.

Where has our nation gone? Because of the negative ‘talk-down’ of the economy, the American people are scared. They’re following like sleep to slaughter to the ideals of socialism. President Obama has pushed through a bill that encompassed 1,000 plus pages and didn’t even allow the Republicans to have any input. That borders theocracy. How is THAT a representation of a Republic? How is that caring for your country. Less government is what’s needed in this situation, not MORE. I may be a spoonful of sugar now, but it will quickly turn into a stomach ache. Why? Because we’re spending money we don’t have.

On another note, Republicans are trying to do something. (I certainly wish they would have done something when they were in power other than spend money and act like democrats). They’re trying to save our free speech rights.

I received the following from the National Religious Broadcasters today:

  • House and Senate Make Attempt at Broadcast Freedoms. Two stellar men in Congress have taken serious action this week to protect Broadcast Freedoms. They are sponsors of the House and Senate Broadcaster Freedom Act, the bill aimed at forever killing the Fairness Doctrine. United States House of Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) initiated a move to file an amendment in an Omnibus bill which would prevent the Fairness Doctrine from being restored through the end of this fiscal year. Pence through a similar move last year, won bi-partisan support preventing any FCC funds from being spent on a Fairness Doctrine thru March 6 of this year. Pence’s attempt to continue a block of funds for the next year failed in effort to be considered late Tuesday evening. House Republicans are looking at other options, presently.

  • In the Senate, late this evening Sen. Jim DeMint (NC-R) plans to add the Broadcaster Freedom Act as an amendment to the DC Voting Rights Bill. DeMint said he added the amendment to prevent the Fairness Doctrine. The Senators office said it is also an attempt to get Congress to act in agreement with President Obama that they too oppose the Fairness Doctrine and stand in unison to oppose censorship on our nation’s airwaves. It is unclear at the time of this publication, how the amendment will be voted on. NRB’s Vice President of Government Relations, Bob Powers, is watching the item closely, in contact with Senate staff on the matter. To help weigh in on NRB’s most significant legislative items please log on to

What doe this mean? It means the Republicans have NO power and have NO voice in any of today’s politic. The national press is discounting everything they say. They have no platform and it won’t be long until Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and many Christian radio stations are off the air because of the liberal grab for power and their desire to silence their perceived enemy.

Obama opposes fairness doctrine – in public

I have been critical of Democrats in recent posts about what’s called the ‘Fairness Doctrine.’  I call it the ‘Censorship Doctrine.’  This week we heard this from Fox News.

“President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called fairness doctrine,” reports. It adds that:

“The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine — a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

“As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the fairness doctrine should be reinstated,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told

However, what’s not said in the release is that many of the House and Senate Deomoctrats FAVOR the measure. According to insiders, it’s believe the Democrats may make it a part of budget legistlation that President Obama WILL sign, because he won’t want to close down the government.

Chad Bresson at CDR Radio reports, “The problem, as it was described to us in Nashville, is that when Copps says, “put public interest considerations and guidelines back into licensing for full power stations”, he means granting local boards licensing power. The license will be at the mercy of a local board… which is fine if the community has no problem with religious programming (as some would say); however, if the community wants politically correct radio, the Christian broadcaster would be toast.

In other words, the NRB sees the localism standard as a means of bringing the fairness doctrine in the back door. The NRB believes it has successfully stigmatized the fairness doctrine… if it becomes reality again, the NRB believes it will be by another name in another form. And they’ve identified the localism boards as one of those forms.”

So, while the Obama administration isn’t seeking to reinstate the Censorship Doctrine, many others may be trying to.

Censorship Doctrine, here we come!

It is quite disturbing how far our country has deteriorated from the country ‘of the people, by the people and for the people.”  Now our montra is socialism, ‘The good of the many outweighs the good of the one.”  What ever happened to capitalism.

According to Wikipedia, “Capitalism is an economic system in which wealth, and the means of producing wealth, are privately owned and controlled rather than commonly, publicly, or state-owned and controlled.[1][2] In capitalism, the land, labor, and capital are owned, operated, and traded by private individuals or corporations,[3][4] and investments, distribution, income, production, pricing and supply of goods, commodities and services are primarily determined by voluntary private decision in a market economy largely free of government intervention.”

That’s exactly the opposite of what happened today in the U-S Senate as Liberal socialist politicians took a huge step into the hole of socialism, rather than allowing the spirit of the American workforce pull up our boot straps and tackle the economic conditions head on.

The Obama administration claims we needed to act on what they called the “Economic Stimulus” bill quickly, or things were going to spiral out of control. It’s amazing how President Obama wanted to have an open government, but he wouldn’t even allow law makers to read the 1,000 plus pages in the bill. How would Republicans have been treated if THEY had done that when they were in control of both chambers and the executive branch?  They would have been crucified by the press, yet the press has said virtually NOTHING about this.

Now, my grand children and great-grand children will be responsible for an incredible amount of debt. In just one week we’ve surrendered even more of our nation’s economy to other nations, who will give us even MORE credit — which is what got us into this mess in the first place. Investing in infrastructure may provide jobs short-term, but what’s going to happen when these infrastructure programs are completed? We’ll just have more unemployment and be back where we are now. How is this an ‘Economic Stimulus” bill? It’s just a socialist ‘hand-out’ similar to those of the former Soviet Union.

President Ronald Reagan was a great cheerleader for the American people. He believed in the American spirit. He knew our roots would help us rebound. He knew that tax cuts and empowering the PEOPLE to help us out of the tough economic conditions would be the only way out.

How does this affect Christian Radio?

Well, the next step in this leap to socialism is silencing the opposition. The democrats are now openly talking about the Fairness Doctrine, or as I’m calling it the Censorship Doctrine (as are many others). It will end talk radio as we know it. It could also end Christian radio as we know it. It may not come in form of a new FCC mandate, it may come in the form of hate speech legislation. The first step in ending free speech. We soon won’t be able to talk negatively about God’s hatred for homosexuality. We may be prevented from saying Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation. A,d, we may be restricted from talking about the truth of Islam. Why? If we do, we could be charged under hate speech crimes.

Do you doubt this?  We need only look to Australia and Canada as examples of what hate speech legislation can do to ‘help’ society. In Australia, two pastors were charged under hate speech legislation for simply reading a passage in the Koran that supported their notion that Islam is a violent religion. In Canada the Bible may be viewed as hate literature because it denounces homosexuality and other sexual sin.

It’s time for Americans who believe in preserving our nation, to speak up and do something to make sure we don’t continue sliding down this slippery slope to socialism. Or, the United States of America will be known as the United Socialistic States of America.  Sound vaguely familiar?

Mission Network News at NRB

I’m on my way to Nashville for the National Religious Broadcasters Convention!!

For those of you who know me, this is NOT my favorite place to visit. Albeit a necessity, especially this year. Actually, because of the downturn in the economy, I wasn’t planning to attend this year. I figure since donations were down and our budgeted expenditures are more aggressive this year because of some planned programming changes, I would stay home and save some money.  But, things changed.

To my surprised, our broadcasting peers named Mission Network News National Religious Broadcasters best short feature program of the year. Then, Open Doors USA is honoring MNN with the Passion of the Persecuted award. Both of these awards are being presented at this conference. So, I decided (with the help of my staff) to go to NRB to receive the awards in person.

Actually, it isn’t costing that much, either. Cornerstone University had some “Biz Perks” award points saved, so I got to fly for $50. I don’t need a car. So, I’m only paying my conference fees and hotel room for two nights (even though THAT’S expensive).

I also hope to meet with a number of radio stations, talk with many of our partner ministries and potential partners, and renew friendships.

However, this conference is not on the forefront of my attention. Have you ever had someone in your life that God used to spiritually change your whole life?  Pastor Dan Cummings was that person in my life (see  He was diagnosed with stage four cancer last March. On Thursday, February 5, 2009 — (the man I called Oh captain, my captain) was called to Heaven. His funeral in Monday. My heart aches because I can’t be there. I true wish I could honor him in a way fitting for someone I hold in such high esteem. One of the award ceremonies is 30 minutes after the funeral. For me to cancel would create an incredible headache for the ministry that’s giving it to us. While we’re receiving an award from man, I can’t help but think about the reward Dan’s experiencing right now of being in the presence of Jehovah.

Be praying for the Cummings family (his wife, daughter and two sons) as they’re missing their husband and father right now. Also for his church, Five Points Community Church as they’ve lost their Shepherd.