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Brian Sanders
Positive Alternative Radio

Christian Radio... You Are Not Roku



The following is a featured blog from Positive Alternative Radio’s blog, where can find this blog and many more!


Dear Christian Radio…you are not a Roku.


Mark Ramsey published a blog in the last few weeks announcing that radio’s reach has diminished. 


Immediately, the conversation in forums, blogs and at water coolers became, “We have a platform problem.”


Those who believe radio’s problem is it’s platform view radio as a roku or Apple TV.  We are nothing more than a gateway to content much like my Apple TV takes me to Netflix, Hulu Plus, or iTunes.


That’s where I strongly disagree.


We are more than a platform…much more. 


It’s my belief that if your philosophy of radio is that we are a platform like Roku or an Apple TV and all you have to do is publish content to that platform – then yes…your reach will die.


As a matter of fact, many local Christian radio stations have adopted this particular “platform philosophy.”


Instead of doing the hard work of walking the halls and building a passionate team through casting a vision, making tough choices, raising the money for expansion, and dreaming what the future could be – many operators are functioning like a Roku by using 90-100% syndicated programming and no longer interacting with local ministries. 


When that happens, Roku Radio is born.   You’ve conceded that your station is nothing more than a platform pumping out content.


At Positive Alternative Radio, we are more than a platform.


We’re an organization that shares a common mission, vision and ways of being.


When is the last time we heard someone discuss team building?  Or crafting a vision for the future?  Or the reality that doing radio is hard work…unless you farm it out.


You’ll hear these discussed weekly at PAR.


Those syndicated personalities know nothing about your mission, if you have one.


They are clueless to the core values you’re trying build in your organization’s culture.


Maybe…just maybe…radio’s reach problem isn’t a platform issue.  What if it’s an overarching philosophy issue?


Has our over-reliance on syndication and voice trackers finally caught up with us and now it’s being reflected in our reach?


It is my belief that having people in the building that have a passion for the vision of the organization gives you an edge over the guy across the street who has replaced 80% of his team with syndication and has all but given up on trying to interact with local ministries.


The guys across the street are trying to maximize revenue by cutting personnel and hoping that syndication can deliver the same experience that a local passionate talent can provide.


Matt Perman, author of What’s Best Next, says it like this; "Your organization's culture is one competitive advantage that cannot be duplicated.”


When a local Christian radio station surrenders building a passionate organizational culture in lieu of syndication, it loses that competitive advantage.


I consider having a team in the building as an advantage.  Those people, and the mission we share, make us more than a Roku.  We are a living vibrant organization that offers hope on a daily basis with the ability to not only touch lives but to interact with those lives.


The team is able to offer those we interact with a total immersible experience through concerts and other events.  That’s an advantage.


We are able to deliver our experience-driven content through apps, websites, online streaming and over terrestrial signals.  That’s an advantage over those competitors who are online only.  We are able to build a local brand with local followers and rely on them to spread the word about our brand.  That’s a huge advantage.


Relationships with local ministries are a huge competitive advantage for us but it is work.  By partnering with local ministries we are able to create foot soldiers for that local non-profit by driving listeners to volunteer or even give to them.


Those ministries, in turn, become evangelists for the radio station telling everyone they know about us.  Creating local evangelists for our brand is a definite advantage.


Roku can’t do any of those things.

Apple TV can’t do any of those things.


If local Christian Radio keeps taking the easy road…it will soon not be able to do any of those things.


Dear Christian Radio…


1.      Build a team.  Invest in your team.  Uncover each team member’s personal, professional and spiritual goals and then help them achieve them.  That passion and bond you foster will be felt and heard in the experiences you deliver to your audience.  Slowly build your team with individuals who can create experiences for your audience on-air through experiential content and off-air by partnering with local ministries.


2.      Change your philosophy.  Abandon the idea that you’re just a platform.  Quit believing that platforms are the answer to radio’s problems.  It’s not.  Delivering experiences that the audience finds worthy of repeating will solve radio’s problems.


3.      Stop making excuses about your fledgling ratings and underperforming revenue.  This is hard work.  Showing up and walking the halls and instilling passion isn’t easy – but it is necessary.  Build a local team.  Build a local brand.  Interact and live life with your audience.  When you do – you’ll fix your ratings and revenue problems.


And who knows…we may just increase our reach.


Brian is the Executive Vice President of Positive Alternative Radio in Blacksburg.

PAR has six brands which include Spirit FM in Lynchburg, VA; WCQR in Kingsport, TN; Positive Hits, WPER in Richmond/Fredericksburg, VA; Joy FM in Winston Salem, NC; Walk FM in Ashland, KY, Huntington,WV; and Joy FM in Union City, OH.



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