Safely Choosing a Christian Music Radio Format
Choosing a Target
In any city, the Christian community comprises a "niche" market. The
entire Christian population is a small sliver of any market's overall populous.
Given that Christian broadcasters are starting with this small pie, it's important
to understand that if you're going to survive and thrive, you have to have most of the
pie. You can't have a small sliver of a small pie and survive.
In Christian radio terms, behind every ministry and station is a financial
equation. To garner the revenue you need to sustain your
ministry, you need the biggest share of the pie possible. What is it
you can do that delivers the broadest range of people (i.e the biggest portion
of the pie) and subsequently the largest share of revenue?
In Christian radio, almost without fail, the only piece of the pie that
can sustain you is a programming pie targeted to reach 25-54 year old adults.
They usually make up the largest portion of the Christian marketplace.
They always make up the largest group that can support your revenue efforts.
They have more discretionary income. They have families and thus have
more needs to meet, resulting in increased expenditures with car dealers,
grocers, insurance companies, auto repair companies and every other category
you need on air to profit. Your market's advertisers are spending the
bulk of their money on people just like that.
Not surprisingly, these people also make up the largest pool of potential
donors. Although they may not be the most vocal of your listeners,
across the board they make up the piece of the pie that will sustain the
financial side of your radio station.
And what do these people listen to? By and large, it's adult contemporary
music or praise music. If that's not want you want to hear, and your heart is to impact
other groups of people as well, the good news is that these formats
do. Most well-run Christian ACs pull strong teen numbers as well.
Our AC-formatted KLTY in Dallas pulls more teens than it's youth-oriented
competitor. Why? Far from all teens are rockers. Most female
teens aren't. Many male teens aren't either.
Teens buy more albums than any other population segment and it's very interesting
to look at what's selling. On the Neilsen Christian Soundscan album sales charts
for 2006, the top selling Christian music genre continued to be adult
contemporary/pop (23%) with rock trailing at 16%. Furthermore, just three
of the top 20 selling albums were rock albums.
All of this helps explain the huge struggle youth and young adult-formatted
Christian stations have faced over the last 20 years. The landscape
is littered with those who have come and gone. In 1992, there were
just six commercial Christian music stations targeting youth or young adults.
Two years later, only two of those six were still on the air. Now,
more than 10 years later, there's only another half dozen commercial stations
giving it a shot. Even one of the earliest, full-scale proponents of
teens and young adult radio has pulled so far back as to relegate all of
its youth oriented material to an internet only station. Unfortunately,
the economics of a full-scale youth-oriented or even 18-30 year old format
generally just don't work.
Of course, if you're like every other radio station manager, you're usually
inundated with younger male programmers and air talent who come up with reason
after reason why the programming should target "young." They have little
access to the historical and economic lessons learned by others over the past
How would they know the stories of the Christian CHR stations billing $3000
per month while 70 miles away in a market half the size, the Christian AC
station is doing 10 to 20 times that? How would they know of the CHR
stations with four paid ads on the air in a two-hour period - just four days
Other managers don't have the push to go younger issue, but rather a constant
push to allow the local PDs to "pick just the right music mix for my market".
Without adequate research information on hand, that's virtually impossible
Access to the Nation's Largest Resource Pool
At Salem, we want our experience to work for you. Not only do we want
to help you avoid mistakes, we want you to succeed and we'll give you the
programming tools to do so. Through our vastly experienced talent pool
at our highly regarded Fish stations and music networks, to our work with
the nation's best radio consultants and researchers, we've put together the
music formats that give you the greatest opportunity for success.
At Salem, we're fortunate enough to have resources that others don't, and
we use those resources for your benefit. No longer do you have to rely
on guesswork to determine exactly what will attract and keep your targeted
listeners longest. Through our thoroughly and continually tested music
rotations to our highly researched clocks and programming elements, we give
you programming formats that deliver the greatest portion of the pie. We take
our responsibility to our radio station clients very seriously. We
don't take chances with your airwaves.
That's why we won't throw new songs on the air just because the rest of
the industry is hyping and airing them. That's why we're slow to add
all but the greatest testing new songs. That's why we don't pull strong
testing songs too quickly - even if our staff, circle of influence or a few
callers are tired of them.
Instead, we use our tools to identify and take advantage of trends or developments
in programming and music. We act on those to create a warm, familiar,
comfortable sound - one that's warm and familiar as early as the very first
time someone tunes in. People spend time with those things they're
familiar or comfortable with. We want your radio station to be in that
We believe you want a format that delivers real people who have the wherewithal
to spend dollars at real advertisers and who have the funds to make real donations
to donor-supported stations. We believe you want your station positioned
to best generate the revenue necessary to sustain your community outreach.
You want to reach as many people as possible. You want the most experienced,
best-tested programming and music possible. We believe it's all right
Put Salem Music Network to work for you today!