Rick was most recently with Radio & Records as their
Christian Music Editor. He helped establish the Christian section in
the mainstream trade publication and introduced national charts from
the AC, CHR, Rock, Rhythmic, Inspirational, and Gospel formats that
are considered the most accurate and most viewed charts in the
industry. He currently serves radio stations, companies, and
artists, in reaching their full potential through the company he
established in late 2004 called The Passion Group. Rick has served
in various roles previously at radio, retail, and the Internet, as
well as a youth worker through the church and with Youth For Christ.
Overall how is Christian radio different today, from
5 years ago?
very different. Five years ago the number of people paying attention
to Christian radio was much lower than it is today. The number of
stations out there has also grown, along with a more diverse
approach coming from more directions today than just a few years
most exciting difference however is the number of stations that are
taking the competition factor more seriously. Stations sound better
than ever, they are using and putting into practice fundamentally
sound programming skills, and they are reaching more people than
2. What are the main reasons why a Christian station
should consider hiring a consultant?
Someone looking from the outside in to evaluate all aspects of the
station, its programming, and its impact on a community, is an
invaluable resource to have in your frequency’s arsenal to reach
your goals, objectives, and overall mission.
the stations I have partnered with – and it is a partnership – have
been affected positively by a non-staff member’s involvement. I
believe in almost all cases a consultant [any consultant] having
their hand in the operations of a station that is serious about
getting better at doing the business of ministry is immeasurably
important. Not all consultant’s are alike, nor do they all offer the
same things to the client station, but almost all help provide a
balance to the priority goal of a station reaching their overall
do you think are the main ingredients of a hit song in Christian
loaded question [grin]. You would believe that this question would
have one easy answer within the walls of radio. But it doesn’t, and
it never will. The closest I could put it into words would be a song
that evokes an emotional response from the listener. Whether it
evokes a sigh, a tear, a tapping foot or a bobbing head, or a chorus
that sticks in your head for hours after you have heard the song,
that type of emotional connection between the artist and the
listener is priceless, and almost always equals a hit song.
What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?
Promotions that impact the most of amount of individual listeners.
Now promotions mean different things to different people, so I
probably need to clarify a bit. Some believe promotions are those
things you do on air, including contests and giveaways. But the real
definition of promotions is how you promote your station into your
coverage area, on-air and off-air. No advertising or billboards, but
person-to-person promotion of the ministry. Many stations fail in
this regard each and every day.
majority of Christian stations don’t do active promotions or
marketing in their community. And that is a disservice to the
overall mission of the station. If a station doesn’t have even a
minimal plan to promote the station in a real face-to-face way in
it’s coverage area – dare I say it – they are either misinformed as
to what is truly important in serving a community through the realm
of radio media, or don’t truly desire to reach deeper into the
community to reach those that need to know about the station, and
then hopefully come to know Christ through the lyrics and lives of
those that surround the station. Shooting it straight, promotions
are just as important as your programming.
do you think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian
sure they can ‘serve’ radio better to a greater degree. Again, that
statement means different things to different people in radio. Does
it mean better servicing? Better contests? More prizes? Better
communication? More artist visits? With the average radio promotions
department budget cut by a third or more over the past couple years,
they are constantly challenged to do more with less. So it is
difficult to put more responsibility on the labels to ‘serve radio
say though that radio, at times, has unrealistic expectations from
labels, or at least a specific label or promoter. I do believe that
the very best way that labels could serve radio better would be to
service them with a more diverse array of art so radio can pick and
choose what to play to meet their listener needs. Presently we are
in a “mid-tempo light rock mode” with the mass majority of songs
that are made available to radio. 18 months ago it was male-driven
AC music. Remember that? It seems 10 years ago now. The problem
though is that the labels are all riding the same horse for the most
part, and there is only so much mid-tempo or light rock tunes a
station can play at the same time. The race is tight, and a lot of
songs are not getting a fair shake at the starting line right now.
your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio
I’m writing a book on this one presently. Kidding. Here is my short
Diversity – I stole that one from Toby Mac. As many within and
outside of our little corner of the industry know, our formats are
not very diverse in regard to programming. Are we getting better?
Yes. Do we have a ways to go? Most definitely. I truly believe that
the individual programmer who programs a station based on their
individual musical taste is stymieing the growth of Christian
radio’s impact. Until this mindset changes, the mass majority of our
stations will hover under a 2 share.
Lack of talent – We have a cruise liner ship full of announcers, but
only a small boat of truly talented entertainers on our stations. We
also don’t have a big enough pool to pull from for new and somewhat
experienced people to fill important roles like promotions,
marketing, sales, programming, and production. And the sad part is,
we keep expecting other stations to do that for us, instead of
instilling processes and procedures in our own station to help in
Openness to new ideas –Stations have been called, predominantly, to
do one of two things: superserve the church or a piece of it, or
reach into culture and bring more people into the church. I don’t
know of any station that is excellent at both, and don’t expect to
ever to find one. Obviously many make some sort of an impact into
each ‘demo,’ but not incredibly in both. What the stations on both
side of this fence need to realize is that we are all doing what we
are called to do with the resources that God has placed before us.
We need to give the other group of stations space to do what they
were meant to do, even if it doesn’t align with what we believe they
should be doing – no matter which side of that fence you currently
What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators
question. Innovation equates invention plus advancement. There are
honestly not many of those types of stations presently. But the
number is growing. It’s easy to program like you’ve always
programmed, and even for some to attempt to not ever program to
upset anyone at any time [of course, realistically, that isn’t
possible in any form of media]. I do applaud stations like KSBJ/Houston,
WEXC/Youngstown and WPRJ/Saginaw-Midland, MI for looking to the
future, instead of the past or present, in a more progressive
programming mentality within their respective formats.
PD’s and station owners are asking the hard question of, “Why do we
do what we do?” And then following that up with, “How do we truly go
after our mission with all that we have?” That last question moves
me, and is one of the main reasons I am now doing what I am doing.
Helping a station realize their full potential to reach into culture
and bring a piece of Christ into someone’s home or car, if only for
a few minutes a day in a relevant way to the non-Christian radio
listener, is something that stirs my heart.
station dives into their market with every ounce of resource they
have within their grasp, they can and will reinvent what is now
called “Christian radio.” Once we have a few more stations do this
and begin to truly impact culture, there will be no stopping these
people/formats from maximizing the impact of life-changing art
performed by Christians.
Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
two places … either totally swallowed up by large networks that are
locally impersonal and do not reach into culture on most plains of
reality - or impacting the mass population one life at a time with
passionate, relevant, localized programming that is innovative, true
to its call, and working in each market to introduce real people to
real art that points them to a real Savior.