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Mike Couchman
SOS Radio / Las Vegas

Momentum CHR Roundtable





We had a serious little CHR shindig at Mometum in Orlando, Florida recently. Right up front: big props to Charles VanDyke at Tooth&Nail/BEC records for making it happen! He even sprung for free ice cream!


It was thrilling to be part of a standing-room only event that had celebrity appearances from Kutless, Family Force Five, KJ 5-2, Paul Goldsmith, and others. Before I get to the take-aways, I feel like itís important to share why Charles and I felt this gathering was important.


CHR as we know it is in danger of dying. There are barely enough stations left to sustain a chart thatís even semi-legitimate. If youíre thinking ďso what? Who cares about charts?Ē I can totally relate. I donít make a lot of decisions based on charts, but the people CHR gets songs from do. If the chart goes, so might many of the artists, styles, and songs CHR relies on. Record labels would have no reason to sign the next Toby Mac, the next Britt Nicole, the next Skillet, etc. Anybody who came close would be quickly edited and neutered to not sonically scare ďBeckyĒ away from her trustworthy AC station.


Bottom line: No reputable CHR chart = CHR music vanishing = CHR stations vanishing = less people impacted for Christ. (I would also contend a weaker/non-existent CHR format weakens AC down the road. CHR can get fans excited about Christian music at a younger age, making them more likely to grow into Christian AC as they mature.)


Iíd love to tell you we cooked up some awesome, instantly actionable things that would immediately make every CHR station stronger. But that wasnít the goal. Simply wanted to make sure everyone who cares about CHR knew what a critical crossroads itís at, hoping that would energize stations to go home and pursue their calling with excellence.


Here are my personal (and admittedly biased) takeaways:


  1. Nobody has figured out the ďwinningĒ music recipe. Not the ďAC leaningĒ stations, not the ones who try creating a ďtrue Top 40 mix,Ē not the ones who treat CHR as the place to throw anything thatís ďnot ACĒ against the wall to see what works.


And trying to convince a station thatís not doing it your way is like arguing politics on Facebook. Itís like telling somebody their baby isnít cute. (Youíre not gonna change a single mind.) The best way to persuade the rest of the format that YOUR philosophy is the one that can help all of CHR grow is through results. Prove it with ratings growth and show how CHR done your way is actually fundable. That will speak much louder than any argument you make (no matter how logical and researched it feels).


  1. While CHR is often hung up on music, weíre losing ground on the rest of the package. Our signals are often rimshots. Our imaging doesnít match what listeners come to us for. Our personalities donít connect. We arenít marketing ourselves. We arenít scientifically asking our audience what they want from us, (and when they tell us, we often donít listen). We arenít forward thinking when it comes to technology and social media. Quite a few of us are operating from a 90ís premise of what we think CHR should be. We arenít keeping up with how rapidly our target audience is changing.


The music itself is a changing target. And just about when ANY format (Christian or not) has it figured out, it changes again. Spend less time on music (not none, just less) and more on the rest of the package. If you get the music perfect, but the rest of your station is a disaster, whatís the point of that perfect music?


  1. Celebrate successes, and be more vulnerable. There are actually a lot of good things happening at various CHR stations. If youíre anything like me, you have probably wrestled with how to let people know what God is doing without it sounding like itís your ego talking. Iíd like to encourage you to brag on your successes anyhow. Give credit where credit is due, and tell your peers how we can celebrate with you. I promise that if enough of us do this consistently, youíll rally more stations to chase excellence.


On the flip side, when something isnít working like you hoped, reach out for help and advice. Be vulnerable among those you trust. Show how humble and wise you are (or desire to be) by seeking counsel.


  1. Connect with your peers. Celebrate those successes and ask those vulnerable questions via the CHR Forum (sign up at if you arenít already there). Take a look around at the stations you respect, who seem to share your own stationís vision, and build personal friendships with them. Youíll encounter some victories and challenges that may not always be Forum-appropriate. Your one-on-one friendships with like-minded proís can fill in the gap.


Thanks for taking the time to read this and for taking at least some of these thoughts to heart. Whether youíre in CHR or not, thanks also for praying that God will use it for His glory.


Mike Couchman is the Music Director and 1-4 PM personality for the SOS Radio Network, based in Las Vegas, NV. He previously Programmed WAY-FM in Denver; WAYG-WAYK in Grand Rapids, MI; WLGH in Lansing, MI; and cut his on-air teeth with Clear Channel at WKQI/Detroit, WBCT/Grand Rapids, and various other Top 40 and Country stations. Mike is also a borderline fast-food addict.