Tomorrow is Here

Dear Christian Radio,

This year has been full of unexpected and unpredictable events: the devastating power of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; the tragic shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada and Sutherland Springs, Texas; and the specter of terror and unrest throughout our nation. Each event brought our lives to a standstill as we watched in disbelief. Remarkably, in those heartbreaking moments, the world witnessed Christian radio come together as a family…one that was on a mission of hope. Stations across the country took action offering optimism, peace, financial donations, and timely supplies to affected communities.

As we look ahead to 2018 we don’t know what the future holds. That’s why we need to stand ready. We need to be restlessly creating the future, tirelessly innovating, and keeping ahead of changing technologies. As leaders within Christian radio, we also must remain focused on the needs of our listeners. Every station should be on fire to discover from where and from what its listeners are connecting and how they consume your content.

To stay ahead Christian radio must always look ahead, so that it can act ahead of time instead of reacting once it’s too late. Above all, each station must be willing to change.

Always Look Ahead

In “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” Ferris says,

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.”
(Awesome movie…one of my favorites.)

Ferris has a great point! We can get so caught up in the day-to-day that we don’t look up and see where we are or where things are headed. While you may not know what the future holds, it’s important to prepare for it right now—that is, if you want to keep a competitive edge.

In Lee Cockerell’s book, Creating Magic, he discusses the importance of being a “Knowledge Sponge.” He believes that people can learn from just about anything including: industry publications, blogs, newspapers, documentaries, and a variety of books. This is great advice, but don’t limit yourself to just media. Keep your mind open to new ideas everywhere you go. Great ideas can happen while on vacation, during a school play, or even at the gas pump. There is inspiration all around you that can lead to new experiences for your listeners.

Act vs. React

Lee Cockerell offers another gem from his book; he says,

“…too many leaders get motivated to learn only when their business is in decline or in the aftermath of some disaster.”

In other words, they are not taking action before things go wrong. If you feel like you are constantly playing catch up something has to change. If you don’t, there will come a day where you are so far behind, catching up will no longer be an option. The first step in avoiding obsolescence is by investing in your future, today. This means you must get an immediate plan in place that covers the “what ifs” of your world and prepares you to act. Here are some quick start solutions to get you going:

  • Compile audio from local pastors. Ask that they provide short Biblical messages of hope that can be used when uncertain times arise.
  • Ask visiting artists for prayers. This idea comes from radio personality and talent coach Beth Bacall. She recommends that stations ask visiting artists to offer prayers for country and community when in town or while visiting the station.
  • Look at trends. Your station is only as good as the data it collects and applies. All stations need to know how society as a whole is currently consuming music and other relevant content. The same is true at the local level since that will have the most impact on your listeners.
  • Formulate a plan. Gathering data is only half of the equation. Formulate a plan that will put your content in mediums that best match your target audience; then, implement it! Ease of use matters, so be sure your targets can easily access information you want them to find. Too many clicks or steps along the way can work against you.
  • Invest in video. The world has changed. Radio has become multimedia, but one with a unique advantage. Thanks to Facebook, YouTube, and all things Google radio can do what others mediums can’t—step outside of its busted bubble and own a share of theirs. Here’s some advice for all radio stations: Invest in video now if you want your station be there in the future.

Be Willing to Change

To win, we must be willing to change. I talk about this a lot with my team and others. Change is good and it’s a necessary part of survival. Change is hard, but choosing the easy route nearly always ends poorly. Comfort is the casket of those who are unwilling to change. As an industry of believers, what we do—sharing of the Gospel—is too important to remain complacent. We must continuously look for new and creative pathways to get God’s message out to the world.

Case and point: prior to joining WCQR a colleague of mine worked for a local news station. At the time (early 2000s) they were the top news station. The ratings showed that their closest competitors couldn’t touch them; that is, until the number two station started investing in online. That station did something strange…they started posting all their news stories online.  People took notice. When this new trend was brought to the attention of station management, along with the suggestion of doing the same thing, it was met with apathy. The station found such a change to be unnecessary and expensive—after all, they were number one. Fifteen years later, the ratings of the two stations have flipped. Yes, the former number one station is still around, but has yet to recover from its missed opportunity.

Friends, tomorrow is here. If you haven’t acted yet, the time for change is now.  Your future awaits.

Dear Christian Radio…

     1. Always look ahead – Be informed, do your research, and become a knowledge sponge.
     2. Act now – Find one thing you can take action on today that will prepare you for tomorrow.
     3. Make change a priority – God has made your station a steward of the Gospel. Invest in technologies and research that will keep God’s message on the air on into the future.

#ENCW –

Adam McCain
Director of Audio Production
Positive Alternative Radio
General Manager, WCQR

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