Beyond Radio: The Future of our Industry

Dear Christian Radio,

Allow me to get this on the table right now—I’m not a fan of futurists. These professionals look at trends and try to help companies anticipate where the consumer will be. As a result, companies invest millions trying to predict where a customer will be in one or two years based solely on the opinion of a futurist. For me, that’s bad business. Here’s why…

Steve Jobs was both famous and infamous for saying, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” To paraphrase the late Jobs, the customer often needs to experience what you’ve dreamed up before they can adopt it.

Such thinking applies to radio in this way: If you have an idea, chase it, and see where it leads. Do you have a mighty dream? If so, pursue it! People may or may not like it; but neither you nor they will know for certain until your consumer has been given the chance to experience it.

Now, allow me to make good on my opening negativity by stating the following to all my friends and colleagues in Christian radio…

“You are the future.”

There’s an entire industry out there that is asking, “What’s the future of Christian radio?” Is it terrestrial…is it digital…is it satellite or streaming…who knows? At this place in time those things are debatable, but this one item is not—the future of Christian radio means risk taking.

Risk taking can mean a hundred different things to a hundred different people, but each one shares a common thread—risk taking isn’t for the faint of heart. You will fail. People will laugh. You may even doubt yourself a time or two…but who cares? In exchange for your hubris you’ll learn, innovate, and eventually produce something the consumer will want.

Here’s a quick list of 11 areas in which your organization could start taking risks, right now:

  • Formats
  • Audience growth
  • Content
  • Delivery methods
  • Technology
  • Engaging listeners and donors
  • Fundraising
  • Organizational culture
  • Leadership
  • Employee engagement
  • Inspiring an industry to dream big

Go ahead and pick one. While you’re at it, why not be bold and pick two or three. You can even add your own areas to the list. What’s important is that you dream a little and cast enough doubt aside that you’re no longer afraid to try something new.

Don’t misunderstand me, it is wise to consider trends and pay close attention to what consumers are doing. However, when it comes to taking risks, remember this—you will need enough early adopters to bolster your dream and keep it relevant while you plan for the future. Your plan must look beyond today and gaze deep into tomorrow. Translation: you must allow for innovation of your product or service. Therefore, forecast where you think the consumer will be in three years. Build your dream’s pipeline from there.

Never forget, America didn’t believe they could put a man on the moon until Kennedy cast a vision for it. Often, people don’t know what they want or what’s even possible until they hear it, see it, or feel it for themselves. There’s a world that needs changing—that’s why it’s time to take a risk. Risk taking will force you to find courage. It will scare you, and it will be hard. Even so, it’s alright…because easy never changed the world.

Dear Christian Radio…

     1. Dream a little. Your dreams fuel tomorrow’s reality.
     2. Take a risk. Remember you are the future of radio.
     3. Call me. Allow me to dream with you. There are few things I enjoy more than encouraging a risk taker.


Brian Sanders
Executive Vice President
Positive Alternative Radio

Sign up for Dear Christian Radio’s Weekly Email!


No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.