Many of us look at
Arbitron as a measure of success, and it is. Like it or not, it’s
the best measure of the number of people listening to us. But,
there’s another measure we should look at - the stories your
listeners tell you.
No other format has such a compelling message as we do. Yet we
sometimes allow an inferiority complex to creep in, as the “powers”
tell us we’re not doing enough to “take people deeper.” In short,
we’re not doing God’s work with all this music and happy talk.
Let me tell you a story. A couple of years ago, as he was preparing
to fly to Ireland and help put that country’s first Christian
network on-air, Dick Jenkins called Verizon to make sure his cell
phone would work over there. As the Verizon person began checking
they were talking, and Dick told her what he did and why he was
going to Ireland, and so forth. Turns out the phone would work, and
Dick would be able to stay in touch.
Fast forward one year, to the music test I was conducting in
Chicago. A 30 something woman approached me, and told me the above
story. She was not a Christian at the time, and based on the
conversation started listening to K-LOVE. Within six months she had
committed herself to Christ, and here she was in my music test.
Not taking people deep enough? Not doing God’s work? I beg to
Another story: At a donor event in the San Jose area I met a donor
who told me about how he became a donor. He had been a very
successful executive in an Internet company, and seemingly a
wonderful life with his wife and family. But he got dragged down by
drugs and gambling, and eventually found himself without a family,
without a home, no money in the bank, and only the clothes on his
back, a pistol that used to belong to his father and a broken down
car. He found himself so low that he thought about ending it all.
Since he was homeless, he was looking for a place to park for the
night, so he could sleep, and saw a church. He asked the people at
the church if he could park in their back lot that night to
sleep...and they told him no.
Now he’s really despondent. He finds an empty space to park, and
decides he’s going to end his life at sunrise. To keep himself
occupied until sunrise he turns the radio on, and searches down the
dial for a station. For some reason, in the place he’s parked not
very many stations are coming in, so he settles on one that is clear
- K-LOVE. At some point in the night he puts the gun in his mouth,
ready to pull the trigger, but something stops him. As he listens
through the night he realizes his need for Christ, and how “final”
his decision was.
The end of the story is not just that he didn’t kill himself, it’s
that he became a Christian, got involved in a church. He leads a
small group and teaches in the church. Oh yes, that pistol that was
in his mouth? He sold it, and used the money to make his first
donation to K-LOVE.
There are two points here. The first is the importance of stories in
connecting with people. Rarely do facts and figures connect two
people, stories do. They have more impact on other listeners than
anything else you can do. But you need to share those stories, in
the listeners own words, on the air. The story of your success is in
your stories, as well as your ratings. Get them on the air.
The second point has to do with our inferiority complex. We ARE
doing God’s work, and I can prove it by pointing to the stories.
Anyone who suggests otherwise simply doesn’t know the facts, and
more importantly, doesn’t understand how God is using we music
stations. Never doubt yourself - God is on your airstaff, and
telling His story.
Alan Mason has been consulting successful CCM and mainstream
stations for decades. He has been married to his wife Becki for 39
years, and they currently live in Lincoln, California. His other
interests include genealogy and political strategy. He was the
recipient of the 2007 Rob Campbell Award, and the Radio & Retail
Echo Award for industry impact.