What’s On The Cutting Room Floor

Dear Christian Radio,

Creating a masterpiece is hard.  This is especially true since human beings have a natural aversion to hard things.  Yet, hard things can become some of our most rewarding endeavors once we choose to take them on.  For most people, the first time is often the hardest.  For example, the idea of speaking in public, riding a roller coaster, or asking someone out on a date for the first time can feel overwhelming if not downright nauseating.  Those things aren’t easy, but they do become easier once we’ve mastered them.   

In the movie industry, filmmakers can spend months laboring over seemingly insignificant frames of film.  They sweat the details, pondering what must be cut and what must remain, in order to win the audience’s approval.  They make hard decisions.  In the world of radio underwriting, we too must make hard decisions, particularly when it comes to cutting inventory on the airwaves.

It may seem out of place, but underwriting plays a big role in the quality of what listeners hear every day. While it may go unspoken, as a rule, we help set the course of improving the product she values.  As a result, she receives more ministry and more songs that enhance her listening experience.  PAR values this mindset.  With “her experience” being the watchword, we labored mightily over a plan that would be advantageous for both programming and underwriting.  Now, don’t misunderstand me, finding the right balance between the two was hard—there were competing goals and a line of people demanding lower rates, but we made it work…and work well.

When donations and/or sales are at the forefront of the mind, cutting avails is not part of one’s vocabulary.  However, at PAR, we strive to create and deliver experiences that inspire listeners to live more passionately for Jesus.  To do this, we live in her world.  We ask questions like, “What is she hearing,” and “What makes her love her dial position?”  Honestly, it’s not the underwriting message or the new jingle package that moves her. It’s not even the vignettes or those funny stories shared by talented radio hosts…it’s the music that lifts her spirits. 

As underwriters, we must remember her first.  It’s so easy to forget her and her experience when the ratings go up and new goals are set.  Instinctively, we add more underwriting announcements…right?  Not so fast, my friend!  While it’s true that underwriting may be asked to hit higher goals each year, underwriting must work closely with programming in order to produce success.  Going back to my movie analogy, the director and producer must work together to create a masterpiece for their audience.  The same is true in radio. When underwriting and programming work together to make your ministry a blessing to her, everybody wins. 

In movies, everyone likes to see their name listed in the credits.  In radio, underwriters like to hear their messages played on the air.  However, whether it is a movie or a radio broadcast, the goal has to be the experiences we create for our respective audiences. Of course there’s also the bottom line…

So you’re no doubt asking, “How do we create experiences and still hit our goals?”  And, yes, we know you have a car payment.  In earlier posts we presented ways to set goals, raise rates, and lower inventory.  If you missed those here’s what you need to know:

Stop selling spot rates and start asking for donations.  You know the conversation…

Business Owner: “How much are your spots?”
Underwriting Rep: “They’re $20 dollars each.”
Business Owner: “So, how many spots do I get for $500?”

Here’s the truth, most business owners already know what and if they are going to donate to your ministry.  They control all future buys when you only offer up a rate.  Cut that out of your presentation.  Instead, ask for their donation level.  Then, get them used to making a $500 donation versus paying $20 for a spot.  Now, you’re in control of how many times their thank you messages are scheduled.  Do the hard things first and they will be easier the next time.

Dear Christian Radio…

Leave these things on the cutting room floor:

1)    Cut the “Rate” talk.  Doing so will improve your future donations.
2)    Cut the inventory.  Doing so will improve her listening experience.
3)    Cut the excuses.  Doing so will improve your relationships.



Randy Pierce
Vice President of Underwriting
Positive Alternative Radio

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