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Glenn Hascall

KHYM Meade, KS Station Manager and
Owner/Moderator for Fellowship of Christian Broadcasters

Incompatibility: Grounds For Great Radio

 

 

 

 

In radio days of yore, when 30-minute interviews were common and elaborately produced intros were not, I interviewed Chuck Snyder. His newest book at the time was ďIncompatibility: Grounds For a Great MarriageĒ.

He told me that if two people were exactly the same then one wasnít needed. In marriage, he suggested, incompatibility was the very thing that added something special to the mix. It was the sharp edge that brought about change and growth to both husband and wife. It seemed that if two were exactly alike then boredom would be the likely result.

While his advice was specific to marriage on that Friday afternoon conversation I have always seen a tremendous parallel with radio.

Ten years ago I was the director of a media ministry in the Midwest. When I started working for this organization we were the only Christian radio voice in the region. Everybody seemed to love us and we were pleased with how things were going. Then came a national translator, followed closely by two more. Three more would show up.

There was something for everyone - hymns, rock, pop, praise & worship, and talk. Suddenly all those people who said they loved us had new bumper stickers on their vehicles, were speaking out in Bible studies about the importance of a new translator to the region, and many simply lost touch with us.

Let me be clear, I am not speaking out in opposition to translators or station growth, but at the time I was very concerned. The ministry I worked for seemed to be destined for mothballs, but it continued to grow. How? By being incompatible.

Our collective message of a Redeemer was the same; quality radio techniques were the same, and our message of hope was the same. So what was incompatible?

We dared to be intentional about not duplicating what already existed. Instead of trying to go head to head with what listeners were hearing from a translator we identified our unique attributes and accentuated them. We carved out a playlist that was not in direct competition with other worthwhile ministries. When we did this we found our list of supporters began to grow.

I appreciate the value of research, but you can overthink the data you collect. I often wonder if too much research stifles the heart of a ministry. Please donít think Iím anti-information, but I do believe that the best radio Iíve been a part of has been in those moments when gut instinct trumped conventional wisdom. Call it intuition, leading of the Holy Spirit or something else, but the end result is a sense of incompatibility that leads to new growth.

We are peculiar people living in peculiar times. Some Christian stations might connect with listeners via moments of emotion and compassion. Others might work toward this goal with prizes, polls and morning zoo banter. Still others just let the music and programs do the talking.

I challenge you to find the very things that make your station unique and become boldly incompatible. Not everyone will receive the message of Godís love in the same way. Present the same good news, but use your own fingerprint.

If you are exactly like another station in your market then perhaps one of you isnít as necessary as you might think, and because it costs less for a translator than a local station then there might be reason to carefully consider your response. I understand that in the case of national translators this may mean you feel as if they are taking something away from your ministry that you had first. I have felt the same way. However, if our core mission is to reach out then we may need to revise the way we accomplish this goal. Consider it an opportunity for God to accomplish His purpose in a new way through your ministry. Lead the charge in a new direction.

And just like marriage you may find that when you arenít exactly like everyone else you can actually work with them to create something wonderful in your region. That doesnít mean itís easy. It doesnít mean your emotions wonít run away some times. It doesnít even mean that fairness will be part of the equation. The only thing you can change is how you respond.

If you try to keep up with what someone else is doing well it is possible listeners may feel you are seeking to copy the other station or worse yet ruin that stationís effectiveness.

Your difference makes a difference.


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Glenn Hascall is station manager for KHYM and moderator of the Fellowship of Christian Broadcasters email and Facebook forum. Winner of multiple broadcasting awards including a Gold Addy, Telly Finalist for documentary work as well as multiple state awards.