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Radio Interview

 

 

Paul Martin

President/Co-Founder

Advocace' Media

Dallas

 

 

     

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Paul's Career Capsule
God placed me in ground-breaking Christian music radio stations.  I had the opportunity to be a part of the start-up team for KLTY twice—once with Scott Ginsburg and once with Marcos Rodriguez, Jr.  I was with Dennis Worden, Bob Lepine, Tim McDermott, and Roy Williams at Stuart Epperson’s KCFO in Tulsa (before Stuart joined Ed Atsinger to form Salem Communications).  I’ve worked in sports, news, talk, Christian talk and Contemporary Christian formatted stations.  After heading the CBN Radio sales group, Salem asked me to start Salem Radio Representatives.  I moved to Salem Radio Network as General Manager to integrate the music formats into the news and talk network.  Leaving the networks, I joined Marcos Rodriguez, Jr. to form an internet media company, and then joined a multi‑national financial services organization as Vice President/Strategic Alliances.  In 2003, my partner Phil Bandy and I wanted to do something that would help support those who take the saving message of Jesus Christ to the culture.  That’s when we started Advocace (pronounced ‘advocacy’) Media.

 

1. How do you keep the ministry in the business?

Our business (Advocace Media) is one of the ways we live out our faith.  Everyday, we ponder God’s word.  Everyday, we study business and leadership principles from current business leaders and filter out those areas that just don’t align with our understanding of Scripture.

When ministry and business issues are fully integrated, we find great liberty and wisdom—and very little conflict.  We never unplug our devotion to God to work on business issues.  You just can’t separate the ministry from business issues or you’ll wind up being like the rope in a good old fashioned tug-of-war.

 

2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today from 5 years ago?

In 2005 station incomes were growing at a pretty fast clip.  As a whole, stations were getting really good at gaining listener involvement through share events.  Now, the next frontiers of fundraising are on-air and off-air business development as well as major gift work.  These are exciting times, but the times require substantially different skills to lead stations and grow income.  That’s why Advocace is focusing on multi-dimensional funding of radio stations.

 

3. What are the characteristics of a successful Christian radio General Manager today?

Be a leader: have a vision for where you want the station to go and, unceasingly, help your people get the station there.  I have visited over 250 radio stations and you can actually feel a well‑managed radio station when you walk in the front door.  (You can also feel a poorly managed station and, worse, a non-managed station.)   You can feel the energy of the staff that knows the station only grows by working with people outside the office.  There is urgency to meet time-based objectives—and it is a fun, victorious place to work!  The General Manager sets the expectations and the pace for the team.

 

4. How often do you feel stations should do fundraisers?

Every day!  Let me explain. Paul writes to Timothy, “Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone.  But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.  Tell them to use their money to do good.  They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need; always ready to share with others whatever God has given them.  By doing this they will be storing up treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.”  (I Timothy 6:17-19, NLT)  Don’t be afraid to share with your listeners and donor prospects an opportunity to invest in God’s kingdom.  That investment will bring them closer to God’s value system.  Therefore, these donor relationships can happen each and every day!  (I really appreciate Advocace team members Mark Kordic and Randy Bronkema reminding me of this message.)

Practically, every day we can create a conversation with our listeners to be involved in the ministry of our station or a partner.  People want to be involved.  Let’s invite them to the party.

 

5. What preparation is necessary before a major fundraiser?

Any fundraiser—whether on-air, off-air, for the station or for a partner—begins with vision—a vision discovered through prayer, scripture study and listening to the needs of people.  If we communicate a vision about impacting others and show early success toward that vision, listeners and prospective donors understand their role and can prayerfully consider where they participate.

 

6. How does Advocace Media suggest stations identify a prospective donor?

God has appointed some with the spiritual gift of giving. In essence, there are people who are—every day—looking to bless an organization or person with a gift.  They have a God-given insatiable desire to give.  Others give out of a generous heart. and there are many who give out of a desire to simply obey God.   So where are these Gifted Givers?

Many are in your listening audience and only give what you ask them to give—thinking your requested amount is all you need to satisfy God’s vision for the station.  An on-air presentation of your vision may be too simple for one of these Gifted Givers to understand their part.  It is up to us to speak with them individually. Your board, your staff, your volunteers and your current donors know who these people are.  Just ask them to introduce you.  Advocace helps stations work on all these things to help grow income for radio stations.

 

7. Do relationships with businesses get in the way of relationships with donors?

Almost every donor we meet loves to hear that others support their radio station.  Regardless whether the other supporter is a donor up the street, or a local business or a national sponsor, donors generally like that other donors are joining with them to support the station.  Jeff Crabtree, a senior consultant at Advocace, tells me that station managers are continually amazed that donors favorably comment on the participation of national companies in support of the donors’ radio station.

 

8. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?

Biggest obstacle: a big vision that reaches beyond the walls of the radio station.  Many station leaders get so bogged-down in staff and internal issues, we don’t see that most of the station’s challenges are actually resolved by people outside the radio station.  That’s why most successful leaders of non-profits spend 60% of their time working on development issues—that’s where most problems can be solved.

A second issue we face is the lack of young talent.  Every industry needs young, enthusiastic talent to push a team beyond the comfort zone where 40, 50 and 60 year olds live.  Don’t get me wrong, I know some great stations fueled by great experienced talent, but even those folks still need to be stretched with a dose of youthful energy.

 

9. What do you believe is the primary role of the Development Director?

Simply put, the Development Director helps bring the station vision to pass by asking people to participate.  Sure, there are logistical and tactical implementation (like database development, direct mail, email, major donor cultivation, business relationships and more), but the successful Development Director realizes they help steward the vision to reality.  Advocace consultant Jerry Grimes tells me that a Development Director would do well to have a strong background in both theology and marketing.

Conversely, selfish ambition in the development world gets in the way of God’s blessing.  A large portion of the Development Director’s life is financial stewardship—recognizing that the Bible lays strong guidance in financial matters and helping others grow spiritually by giving.  If the Development Director is only about money and not about true discipleship, there is a great danger for manipulation and gross insincerity in their fundraising.  I have a hard time stomaching any cynicism with financial stewardship.

 

10. What, if any, Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?

Different stations innovate in different areas.  I think WRBS-FM/Baltimore does an incredible job with Facebook.  HIS Radio is fabulous with twitter. WONU/Chicagoland engages major donors in wonderful collaborative ways.  WAY-FM’s blog with Brant sets a high bar.  WAWZ/New York is doing some pretty compelling stuff with YouTube. American Family Radio’s email program is strong.   KTIS-FM/Minneapolis-St. Paul creatively connects with the spiritual work of their community.  KCMS reaches the advertising community in fresh, competitive ways. There are so many more, but these are the first who come to mind in specific fields.

 

11. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?

In five years, our radio stations may be merely promotional vehicles for larger digital venues that engage our audience in a more convenient and more customized way.  The technology adoption rates of the past 15 years will be race five to ten times faster over the next five years. Technologies that provide a collaborative, entertaining and spiritually engaging environment will attract audiences that are time-pressed and relationship-starved.

The best part is that station leaders get to make the decision to be involved from a current position of strength (as leaders of stations with thousands of loyal listeners and donors) or become a MySpace in the age of Facebook.  These are exciting and wonderful opportunities to engage more people with the Gospel.

 

 

 

 

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