By: Charley Mefferd December 8, 2017

Everything changes, whether it’s culture, music or politics. But there seems to be one big exception — Christian radio.

Since the early 2000s, I’ve heard the question asked time and again at NRB: “What will Christian radio be like in 20 years?” My answer is usually: “Pretty much the same.” That’s because many of the leading radio Bible teachers (whose reel-to-reels or cassettes I started playing as an 18-year-old board op) are the same preachers we all still hear on Christian radio stations today.

In many ways, this is a great thing. The Word of God never changes, and today God is still using many of those great preachers to bring thousands to Jesus Christ or to help Christians grow deeper in their faith. Because of technology, those preaching programs also can live on beyond the earthly life of the speaker. But at the same time, our industry has to face the fact that the Christian radio teaching and talk platform isn’t fully replacing the older generation of radio voices with a whole new generation of sound Bible teachers.

So what do we do?

A few weeks ago, I had the great opportunity to spend three days at American Family Radio, interacting and exchanging ideas with the network’s talented lineup of hosts and working side-by-side with their producers. It struck me that AFR’s blend of Bible teaching and interactive talk-show programming is hitting just the right tone — not only with its listeners, but also as the type of format that can carry all of Christian talk radio into the future.

You can’t argue with AFR’s impact or success. With nearly 200 stations, AFR is uniquely positioned to mobilize its audience for causes and ministries it promotes. With its national ministry programming, the network builds up listeners’ faith in Jesus Christ, and with its talk-show programming, it effectively informs them about the issues that affect all Christians and encourages them to stand for Christ in practical and powerful ways.

Take, for example, AFR’s spectacularly successful campaign against Target over its misguided and dangerous transgender bathroom policy. Now with more than 1.5 million signatures on AFR’s online petition, the network has emboldened listeners to send a strong message to Target.  The power of AFR’s Christian radio audience — coupled with such a strong stance — has put intense financial pressure on Target, which has been struggling ever since the petition came out.  This is just one example that shows when Christians are mobilized, we can have a positive and tangible impact on the culture.

I’m more convinced than ever that if Christian radio is to survive the next 20 years, programmers need to start adding more issues-driven, interactive talk programs to both grow and engage the audience.

So how to begin? If you want to launch a local talk show but only have limited resources, start by inviting a local pastor to do a weekly Bible Q&A program, or consider inviting a local Christian ministry head to engage your audience on topics like the life issue, marriage, evangelism or gospel outreach to a particular people group. The point isn’t to start with the perfect talk show, but to find ways to make your station more interactive and informative for local listeners. Ultimately, our goal as Christian radio programmers should be to help equip, encourage and challenge listeners to believe in Jesus Christ and live out their faith in their daily lives.

For 60 years, Ambassador has prided itself on staying ahead of the curve and helping ministries and stations navigate the ever-changing media and technological landscape.  Our staff can help with everything from long-term marketing strategies and program production to short-term consulting services.  We are committed to the work and mission of Christian radio and are invested in the bright future it holds.

What Stations are Saying
  • Chris Daniel
    Reply

    Radio is still the quickest, most cost efficient, and easiest way to reach the masses with the gospel and to equip believers around the world. If Christian radio goes away, it won’t be because of a better technology, it will be because those of us in Christian media failed to use the gift of radio, given to us by God, for his work. Christian radio can not only evangelize and disciple, it can inform and entertain, and provide services to communities in many ways. Whether a radio network, big signal in a big market, or an LPFM in a small town, we can be a light and only our own apathy can put that light out. We don’t need to mimick the top 40 station across town, or the legacy station with the big names on the air, we just need to be who we are. After all, nobody can top our content. May radio long be used for His work, and glory!

  • Charley Mefferd
    Reply

    Amen, Brother! Chris, Thanks for all you are doing for the Lord at KAWX! -CM

  • Mark Warner
    Reply

    You’re asking the same questions we are back here. Aside from your suggestion to produce a local talk show, I am still wondering who will be replacing the voices that have left us. Is the same business model still functional? Large pastor preaches… Christian Publisher assembles them into a book… Pastor forms independent ministry…buys radio time – sells the book on the air… repeat the process?
    or…
    has this model been retired….?

  • Stacy Lynn Harp
    Reply

    Just so ya’ll know there are a ton of “not famous” but well known in our sphere of influence, Christian broadcasters over on Periscope. I host Bible News Radio and have a lot of the same guests as Moody Radio and AFR and we have a very interactive audience of all ages. We cover the hot topics and share the gospel and see people coming to Christ and we get to disciple them too! I’ve had 4 different families travel to my “home studio” to meet us in the last few years. One listener came from Australia, another couple drove from Ohio, a listener who came to Christ listening in Ohio also drove down to our home in TN and another came from Virginia. We’ve got listeners from California to New Zealand and the United Kingdom and Canada and God is on the move with not just us, but a ton of others too. So, “Christian radio” has changed, but the dinosaur Christian media, hasn’t quite caught the vision or caught up.

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