Picnic Baskets & Bullets

Dear Christian Radio,

The smells of fried chicken, potatoes and bread were in the air. A sea of Virginian families had traveled by wagon, carriage, or horseback to witness a spectacle—nearly all of them with a picnic basket in tow.

It was 1862 and these onlookers had come to watch their beloved Northern Army defeat the Confederates. And so, there they were…scores of families sitting on blankets, drinking tea, and chatting with one another. The anticipation of victory was thick in the air.

And then, it happened…

Bullets began to fly over their heads. Children began to scream. People began to pass out as they watched soldiers fall to the ground within just feet of where they were sitting.

This was no picnic.

One reporter who attended the festivities recorded a wife’s comment to her husband, “Fred, this is the dumbest idea you’ve ever had.”

Fred’s folly wasn’t his alone. In fact, a northern congressman was captured by the south while trying to enjoy his lunch. #Dumb

Dear Christian Radio, it’s time we stop bringing picnic baskets to the battle. What do I mean? Well, for example, as an industry:

  • We avoid music testing. Why? Because we think we know what the listener wants. This is a mistake.
  • We fail to hire consultants. Stations need advice that comes from outside the radio bubble. We need to hire consultants to do the one thing they do best…critique. By simply having them focus on this one area, they could evaluate fundraisers, provide honest feedback, offer tips for improvement, listen to talent and then, identify key areas where we can grow.
  • We refuse to practice candor. When we fail to be open and honest with one another, problems get ignored and issues go unaddressed. This releases a poison within organizations that spreads throughout the team. In turn, morale begins to rapidly decline.
  • Accountability is non-existent. Planning is abundant, but the doing is scarce. The magic happens when we try, do, expect, and measure results.
  • The mission and vision aren’t preached. Passion is often overrated. Team members don’t know the why. As a result, they begin to craft their own. When that happens, no one is on the same page. The end result is a group of people who are all going in their own direction.

This is what I mean by picnic baskets. You get the point.

Yet, there is one that I reserved for last and it is by far the most dangerous basket of all, so brace your heart…

We spiritualize the battle. Instead of believing that God works through us to win our respective audiences, donors, and underwriters—we sit back and do nothing, trusting that God will take care of everything.

The battles of the Old Testament have Israel fighting against various nations and tribes. Israel gave God credit for its victories. Nevertheless, it was through Israel’s efforts that God worked.

Friends, there is a real battle taking place. We are told to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), not sit back and be a spectator. Let’s make 2019 the year we show up prepared to win…not to have a picnic.

  • Plan, do, and measure results.
  • Make accountability a key piece of your culture.
  • Use candor…it’s a gift. Author Brene’ Brown writes, “Clear is kind.”
  • Prepare your team to sail on a sea of clarity; avoid the fog of confusion.
  • Invest in the eyes and ears of those who don’t live within your organization.
  • Search out objective views that can tell you what’s actually happening.
  • Listen to and act upon quality advice.

Finally, ask God to give our industry the strength to fight.

May we rise to the occasion and answer the call. It won’t be easy, but then again…easy never changed the world.

ENCW —

Brian Sanders
Executive Vice President, PAR
Positive Alternative Radio

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