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Lisa Barry
KTIS Minneapolis

The Evolution of a Christian  DJ

 

 

 

“If I ever become what he wants me to be, I will have failed!”

Those are the words that came out of my mouth after a particularly brutal air-check session.   The implied message was that my Christian verbiage was boring, unfamiliar, and stale.   And yet, our radio mission statement was to “Lead People to Christ and Nurture them in Their Faith.”  How do you get those two things to live in harmony?

I wasn’t boring!!   Was I?   I was communicating what I was learning from the Bible, challenging mature believers to grow deeper in their faith, and educating new believers!  What’s wrong with that?  After all, it’s the great commission.  Go and teach.   But was my method, really getting the job done?  Here's what I've learned.

 

Lesson number 1.  Be the voice of "the people" not just "some people"  

Since I was a serious follower of Christ, I was forever trying to please the devout Christian listener.   If I shared the Gospel on-air, the mature believers would call to say, “Thanks for preaching the Word!”  I loved to hear that!  The same people would call to complain if I did a break about shopping and lecture me; asking why a Christian radio station would ever talk about such worldliness.  I listened!     And why not?  No one had ever called to say “please talk about shopping more”, or “please talk about American Idol, fast food, and how to properly hang toilet paper!”  

What I've learned is that the vast majority of our listeners are regular people with real struggles who have some form of faith in their life and who like songs of hope.  They want to find similarities with me and them.  They want us to share the same experiences, vocabulary, and life.  The more we have in common, the more they feel at home. They would never think to call and say “please talk about shopping and toilet paper,” it’s simply a part of their life!  They don't think of those things in terms of radio fodder like I would.  If it’s part of life, it should be part of radio.  The same goes for faith.  I had been choosing words and sentences for on-air that I would never use in a hallway conversation.  If my real intent was to lead people to Christ, then why would a choose vocabulary that only some people, those already with Christ, would understand? 

 

Lesson number 2.   Be a sister not a mother.

A consultant shared this concept with me and it became a filter I would use constantly.  But honestly, it was really hard to do.  I loved public speaking and found it nearly impossible to switch out of a Beth Moore style of delivery.  I wanted to utter that quotable quote; that thing that made people nod their heads while driving down the road; the bullet between the eyes that someone would quote back to me 10 years later and say how those words were life-changing.    But once I started sharing instead of teaching…discovering instead of proclaiming…listening instead of talking…everything began to change in my delivery and whole radio persona.  

 

Lesson number 3.   Be a cheerleader

In the game of radio, I wanted to be the star player, the hard worker, the MVP.   I wanted to shoot 3-pointers all day, every day!     But as I was learning lessons one and two (above), I realized there was another position that was even better than MVP.  Cheerleader.   Off the court entirely.   Now, from the sidelines, I celebrate the listener's 3-pointers, offer a word of comfort when they miss, and encourage them to stay in the game.  

 

It's a total paradigm shift.  And just to be clear, I have not mastered these lessons.  But here’s the bottom line:  The more any of us become the voice of all people, a sister/brother and a cheerleader, both on the radio and off...the more ministry happens.  Period.    Jesus was the voice to all people, he humbled himself as a servant and now he intercedes on our behalf.   He's a good act to follow.

 


Lisa Barry is a midday radio DJ in Minneapolis/St. Paul on 98.5 KTIS, and Austin, Texas on Spirit 105.9.    When you listen to Lisa you feel like you’re in Starbucks sharing a cup of coffee and conversation with a friend…listening, smiling, talking, spilling coffee on your lap, and laughing. Lisa has been in radio for 25 years since graduating from the University of Northwestern.  She spent 9 of those years working with Elisabeth Elliot on the national radio program, Gateway to Joy, and also with Dawson McAllister on Dawson McAllister Live.

Lisa does commercial voice-overs for clients such as Target, Phillips, Seasonal Concepts, 3M, Thrivent for Lutherans, and the University of Northwestern. In her spare time, she likes going to yard sales, listening to Christmas music and shopping.  Her favorite food is parsley, or the Sausage McMuffin as the runner up. She lives in the burbs of Minneapolis with her husband Ken.  They have three daughters 18,  20, and 23 plus a very naughty dog who shall remain nameless. Reach Lisa at lisa@myktis.com


 

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