December 14, 2017

The State Of Christian Radio

I began working in radio the same year I became a follower of Jesus, 1973. I worked in educational radio, Christian radio, general market radio. I taught broadcast management for 15 years. I worked at the first FM commercial station to play all contemporary Christian music in the nation. We were the pioneers in many ways.

There were programs that I loved to listen to. Unshackled by Pacific Garden Mission. Nightsounds with Bill Pearce. Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee. These were the staples I played on the air, and I devoured as a listener.

So I thought that, with my background, I would be in a good place to share with you a “State of Christian Radio” post. But then it hit me. I have no idea where Christian radio is today, because I don’t listen to it. I haven’t listened to religious radio for years. Or much radio other than sports in years. Radio—Christian and otherwise—left me some years ago when the FCC deregulated radio ownership. Now a handful of corporations own the majority of stations, AM and FM, in the U.S. A classic rock station in Louisville sounds the same as one in Omaha or Jacksonville. Talk radio is all syndicated. So I avoid it all together.

I do listen to WLW from Cincinnati on the internet at times. They still have a very local feel. But Christian radio? I have no idea.

One of our advertising partners is Jim Park’s Broken Road Radio. Jim talked with me about this idea some years ago, and now it is a reality. Jim is doing something different. Have you listened to it yet? If not, you might give it a try.

So, here is my summary of Christian radio at the moment: I have no clue.

Instead, I’m opening this up to you. Do you listen to Christian radio? Am I missing anything that you think makes for good, if not essential, listening? Are there programs or stations you listen to online that you would suggest others listen to? Or are you like me—a former listener who has moved on because there is just no real reason to listen today?

I’m not wanting this to devolve into a “Woe is the state of Christian music” post. I think we all agree much of today’s commercial Christian music is devoid of sincerity as well as talent. Perhaps in spite of this you’ve found a place to land to enjoy music that helps you in your walk with Jesus.

So, what do you say, iMonks?

 

Comments

  1. If you want to know more about Eastern Orthodox worship in music try Ancient Faith Radio on the internet.

  2. cermak_rd says:

    I have access to 3 different religious radio stations. The local relevant radio (Catholic talk), Moody’s (Evangelical) and a station that has a revolving schedule of various local church folk (this ranges from charismatic odd to bland aphorism depending on who has the mike at any point in time.) What I find odd, particularly about Moody’s and the Catholic talk is that they are not evangelistic–they are radio for a tribe already convinced. So who wants to listen to hours every day of sermons (in the case of Moody’s), if one already agrees with the assertions being made? I mean, I listen (in the car) mainly to point out where the speaker has made a logical fallacy or an argument from assertion, etc. But I’m clearly not the target audience and am certainly of no benefit when it comes to financial support.

    The Catholic one is pretty much all culture war all the time with a sprinkling of Catholic devotionals here and there. Weirdly, it seems to almost want to represent the stereotype of the superstitious Catholic (hey folks let me tell you about this hot new devotional that is getting results…). I listen occasionally to argue with my radio. Again, I’m not the target here, but neither are most non-Catholics.

    The rotating one is actually a little more interesting. First of all, the presenters are usually local church men and women, so they are a part of my city. Secondly, if they make a mistake, say a bad argument, and someone writes, it’s not unusual for them to admit they were wrong. They are certainly a more diverse lot, not just credally, but also racially and in social class. I suspect this fact is because rather than come up with the cost for a whole radio station, these folks only have to scrape up the $$ for an hour of airtime every now and again. Moody’s and the Catholic station seem to intentionally or unintentionally speak straight to the upper middle class strata of the population.

    • I agree with you about Moody. I quit listening, even to the music. Whenever I do tune in for a moment, it sounds like so much “ax-grinding.” I don’t get bored easily, but I would if I spent much more that a few seconds listening to that stuff.

    • Oh, there is a KLove station. It’s at 94.3 which is right between 93.9 (lite rock–OK, but a little sleepy) and 94.7 which is a kickin’ oldies channel with real live DJs who actually remember a lot of the acts. When Davy Jones died, Landecker was able to actually recall conversations he had had with Davy and Tork and Dolenz. He can also tell which one sang lead on which song.

      I’m older (Gen X), so I like old acts. Billy Idol, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd… Paxton, Ochs or Dylan if I’m in a mellower mood, maybe some Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie. Modern acts? Well, I like the Wallflowers (they remind me of TP and the Heartbreakers), Adele, Pink, Danger Mouse and Muse, so some new, but mostly not.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Many years ago in my area, 94.7 FM was a kicking rock station named KMET — “LIttle bit o’heaven, ninety-four-point-seven, KMET — wheedle-eee!” — which was also the home station for the Dr Demento Show. We had FOUR hours of Dr Demento every Sunday night where other markets only had two, right between Flowin Eddie (sic) and The Grateful Dead Hour.

        Unfortunately, KMET got changed to KTWV in the early Eighties — All New Age Jazz, All The Time. I don’t know what station has 94.7 now.

        • I used to love Dr Demento when I was driving back from my home town to Chicago late at night. It was on at 11-12. I’d have died for a 4 hour block of it!

    • Oh and Harold Camping’s Family Christian Radio. It’s interesting. Long passages are read from the Christian (and sometimes the Hebrew) Scriptures. The music can be good, occasionally they’ll do a nice gospel number, which I enjoy. Usually though it’s hymns which are better than CCM but not as rockin’ as gospel.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Though Camping is best known these days for last year’s Rapture Scare and its encore performance six months later.

    • I have to disagree about Moody. On the local station in Chicago, (90.1 FM) I find their morning show to have quite high production quality. My biggest criticsim of Christian radio over the years was that is was just plain goofy on many levels. It wasn’t the least bit professional. But that’s what I like about the morning show on 90.1 in Chicago. They have many people there who have worked in secular radio, and thus they understand what a professional show is. And I disagree that it’s all preaching to the choir. They bring up many topics for conversation that Christians will have differing views on. In fact, that’s one of the main things they do.

      Now, if you were refering to the syndicated stuff during the day (MacArthur, MacDonald, etc.) then I agree with you. But at different times, their own programs are quite good (Inside Look with Greg Wheatley, and the show on the weekend with Julie Royce, for which I can’t recall the name).

  3. Steve Newell says:

    I have found that Issues, Etc is one the best Christian radio / internet programs out there.

    Another great program is the White Horse Inn.

    • Yes, but Issues and WHI fit precisely into cermak_rd’s excellent observation about tribalism and the culture war. Those programs are bunkers for hard-core Lutherans and Calvinists, respectively, who want reassurance. Not that their critiques of the evangelical world aren’t insightful, but how hard is that, really? I’m now a Catholic in a part of the US where Catholicism historically dominates, yet there’s no Catholic radio here. I’m strangely grateful for that, having no interest in 90% of EWTN’s culture war talk. But give a listen to The Journey Home on Mondays.

      Like Jeff, I picked up Christian (evangelical) radio as a teenager in ’74. Remember Paul Evans? The Far East Broadcasting Company?

      • WHI and IE aren’t necessarily tribalistic. For one, WHI is has an ecumenical panel of hosts and regularly interview and quote from across the spectrum. IE interviews everybody, including those they strongly disagree with, for debate and dialogue. So they’re not exactly an echo chamber. I don’t think they’re about giving assurance to the hard-core, I bet their audience has a significant crossover. Plus, they do a lot of general Bible teaching on diverse subjects of common interests to many types of Christians.

        But that isn’t to say that they aren’t VERY reformed and Lutheran programs, respectively. They pull no punches about their traditional affiliation, that’s for sure.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Haven’t listened to Xian radio since the Eighties, when Rich Buhler’s talk show “Talk from the Heart” went off the air. Before that, well, it was the Seventies, heyday of Calvary Chapel and Hal Lindsay. Nuff said.

    Looking back on it, I keep thinking of this Eighties tune. A “Christian Radio” filk of it would be hilarious.

  5. I don’t usually listen to Christian radio because I prefer not to listen to the announcers, ads, and call ins. But some ladies in my small group were talking it about it the other night. They love it and are encouraged in the faith through it. So I’ll cheer it on.

    What moves me these days are old school, choral pieces mostly out of our personal collection of music. So not much radio there.

    During Advent, I’ve found that Anuna as the seed for a Pandora station provides hours of great music.

    • I don’t usually listen to Christian radio because I prefer not to listen to the announcers, ads, and call ins.

      I quit listening to Christian radio over 10 years ago when I got fed up with the ads for “Christian” food supplements, diet loss program, natural Christian drugs for ADD, etc…

      Although when I drive through south eastern VA late at night or on weekends some of the preachers are, shall we say, interesting.

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    A classic rock station in Louisville sounds the same as one in Omaha or Jacksonville.

    Like that Oldies station that almost caused a mutiny at my shop years ago, with a playlist of 20 repeated over and over — 10 of them were “Dope is Groovy!” and the other 10 were “Get Out Of VIETNAAAAAAM!”?

    (Christian Radio does not have a monopoly on “What Were They Thinking?”)

  7. I haven’t listened to Christian radio, well, ever really. Even when I was into Christian music, I considered anything on Christian radio to be cheesy and irrelevant. Actually, I’ve never really listened to regular radio, either. If I want to listen to music, I simply choose something from own collection. And now with iPods and Apple’s iCloud service, I can have access to anything from collection wherever I’m at. The only radio I listen to is NPR. I will occasionally switch to the local jazz station while in the car, but that’s relatively rare, too.

  8. Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

    We’ve got a smattering of Christian radio stations ’round these parts (San Antonio, TX). We’ve got our K-Love station, which is like every other K-Love station in the country. We’ve got two AM talk stations that are mostly Evangelical Protestant in their content. One has more preaching and teaching from churches while the other has more culture-war and “family” stuff. We’ve also got a local EWTN/Guadalupe Radio affiliate for the Catholic audience. That’s got regular broadcasts of the Mass and nightly broadcasts of the Rosary interspersed with call-in shows about culture war issues, call-in shows about family issues, and call-in shows about general Catholic stuff (which often includes culture war and family issues). Other than some of the Catholic jargon, the tone is VERY similar to that of the Evangelical talk channels.

    In all that noise, my bright spots tend to be:

    -Key Life, by Dr. Steve Brown (Evangelical, 15-minute format that I usually end up catching online). Steve is just so honest and real and grace-focused. His ministry brought me back from falling away from the faith when my legalistic approach religion fell apart.
    -The Doctor is In by Dr. Ray Gaurendi (Catholic, family stuff, call-in). Dr. Ray is just plain funny. And down-to-earth.
    -The Wisdom of Benedict Groeschel (Catholic, old re-broadcasts). As the title says, Fr. Groeschel is just a really wise dude. I’ve never heard drivel from him.
    -Mornings with Mother Angelica (Catholic, old re-broadcasts). Mother’s simplicity belies an extreme profundity. She tends to knock me down a few notches from my intellectual high horse.

    I used to listen to Fr. Corapi pretty religiously (pun intended) until his stuff was pulled from the air in the midst of scandal. Fr. Corapi was a straight-shooter and not afraid to pull punches. I respected that. I also really like Fr. Mitch Paqua and Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God (formerly Sister Rosylnd Moss). Fr. Mitch does one of the call in shows once a week and is occasionally a guest on some of the others. Mother Miriam is a monthly regular on one of the call in shows.

    • Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

      Oh, on my new car I’ve got Sirius radio. So these days, I usually flip between a 90’s rock/grunge station, a 90’s pop station, EWTN, and NPR. Occasionally I’ll check out some classic rock, some folk rock or 80’s pop or “outlaw country” also. I drive around a LOT for my job, so radio is pretty important to me. Oh, and our mega-conservative talk station sometimes plays church services on Sundays. But it’s not technically a Christian station.

    • cermak_rd says:

      I had Fr. Pacwa for Hebrew (I and II) at Loyola in Chicago. I also attended the masses he ran at a dorm on campus and an occasional Thur night charismatic prayer service. I don’t agree with his theology or philosophy now, but he was a good professor and presenter.

    • Matt Purdum says:

      I would check that recent controversy Groeschel was involved in. Not so wise after all.

      • Isaac / Obed says:

        Dammit. I need to make sure I only pick dead heroes.

      • The other Graham says:

        If you’re listeng to material from before his recent unfortunate ramblings that got him pulled from the air, there’s a great deal of wisdom. Sad that age, his declining health, or whatever was the cause of his recent remarks got the better of his judgment. His books are worth reading, too.

  9. What’s a radio? (just kidding). I’ve listened to Sports radio for years. I’ve always felt a little guilty because I know there are more edifying options.

    • cermak_rd says:

      We had a candidate run for office (governor I think) several years ago and she disparaged one of the local teams. It was funny because she had been fulminating against the local radio personalities and their callers. The common comment was, she thinks political radio callers are rabid, she ain’t seen nothing until she hears from the sports talk radio folk.

  10. The state of Christian radio in Southern California is abysmal.

    It’s all the same ‘how-to’, gospel (+) stuff that ones gets in the mega-barn churches around here.

    There are moments (in a sermon, or talk) where they actually do get it and hand Christ over to you…but 99 out of a 100 times (yes, I have listened to this stuff for a long time) they are like the cow that gives a good bucket of milk…and then kicks it over. Hand over Christ…and then rip Him away with their other hand by telling you what you now need to do.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      30-40 years ago, Christian radio in SoCal was Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, J Vernon Magee, Calvary Chapel Santa Ana, Focus on the Family, Calvary Chapel West Covina, some preacher whose name I forget but HOLLERED EVERY WORD, some Prison Ministry type, too many End Time Prophecy types to remember (linking each and every news headline to some prophecy in Revelation), even the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (against Demon Rum, natch).

      Among the strangest were…

      A “Dr Willam Orr” who dinged a bell to make points on his “God’s Quarter Hour”…

      Some alleged phone-in show called “Counseling with a Purpose” which no matter what the caller was calling in about, always ended with the alleged “counselor” leading them through The Sinner’s Prayer(TM)…

      Some preacher whose name I can’t remember who HOLLERED EVERY WORD. Guy had an accent like J Vernon Magee, but was definitely NOT him. Magee had sense; this guy would HOLLER for his full half hour about such important Bible teachings like how Christ’s resurrection body was described as “FLESH AND BONE! NOT FLESH AND BLOOD!” (This was important for some forgotten reason.)

      Something called “TODAY IN BIBLE PROPHECY” — guess what the subject was in that Age of Hal Lindsay?

      And this was BEFORE TBN…

      • cermak_rd says:

        The revolving station I mentioned has a variety of speakers. One of them is a guy who YELLS EVERY WORD. Cracks me up. And I gotta wonder how he manages to get through his half hour without bursting a vein or just plain getting tired. I don’t know that there’s enough Red Bull in the world for that level of energy.

        And then there’s the lady who has the gift of glossalalia and demonstrates it over the radio. The first time I came across her, I assumed it was just an ethnic church that had rented the time. And then I caught her in English another time and realized ohhhh. I try really hard not to laugh, figuring it’s probably rude to laugh at other people’s religious rituals, even if they can’t hear you. But I find I enjoy it in an ironic sense, which is probably as rude.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And then there’s the lady who has the gift of glossalalia and demonstrates it over the radio. The first time I came across her, I assumed it was just an ethnic church that had rented the time.

          Either that or someone was practicing scat-singing in fractured Hebrew.

      • Was the shouter DOCTOR (or ‘pastor’) GENE SCOTT, maybe?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I have fond memories of that crazy guy with the funny hats. When I first got cable in ’84, I got sick of MTV’s Top 40 format in about two days and found the Gene Scott channel. I used to keep it on as background viewing, just to see what that maniac would do next. Kind of like a Crazy Uncle — you don’t trust him around the kids, but anywhere he shows up things are going to get colorful.

  11. This is showing up in a few days: Anglican Radio. I’m very curious to see what it’s like: http://www.anglicanradio.com/

    Personally, I work in Christian Radio. I can attest to a lot of the clichés being true on both ends: Stations have a narrowing playlist, music is laser-pointed at mothers in their early 40s, the DJs are told to be short with their points, and every 3 weeks there’s the latest “Worship Song Everyone Will Be Singing For a Long Time(tm)” that takes over the station.

    On the other hand, from a radio guy’s POV, if there’s 100,000 listeners to a Christian Radio station, there’s 200,000 people who think they’d make better managers. Everyone’s an expert because they’ve got their Pandora station _just_ right now.

    As for CCM radio, I can attest that’s it’s a lot like its mainstream counterparts — far too similar and far too Safe For The Whole Family(tm). Even the “youth” stations sound like they’re more for their parents approval before it filters down.

    There are shining exceptions, and if you like these ideas SAY SOMETHING to those who are involved. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t get thousands of calls when people like something day in and day out. When we don’t hear something, we sometimes assume the worse that no one cares:

    – Steve Brown Etc: Awesome Talk with the Old White Guy.
    – Breakpoint: Occasionally Right-Wing politics, occasionally smacking around right-wing idols like Ayn Rand and low taxes. At the very least it’s well stated and rarely alarmist.
    – Ancient Faith Radio: Orthodox music and readings. The anti-CCM radio, if you will.
    – Under The Radar: Folk and indie music, weekly. Recently the did a series on Rich Mullins, but will play a lot of The Choir, Sara Groves, Fernando Ortega, Michael Card, Andrew Osenga, etc… I’m a little surprised it doesn’t get as much love here.

    Meanwhile our talk station (where I do the majority of my work) just interviewed Steve Taylor, Andrew Peterson, and Karl Giberson last week. I demand some Evangelical hipster cred 😉

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      On the other hand, from a radio guy’s POV, if there’s 100,000 listeners to a Christian Radio station, there’s 200,000 people who think they’d make better managers. Everyone’s an expert because they’ve got their Pandora station _just_ right now.

      Funny… The morning drive-time guy on the local top talk station says the same thing. Including daily demands to the station manager to have him fired on the spot because something he said “Offends Me”. And hundreds of emails a day about Offended listeners who “will never listen to this station again!”, most of them repeaters.

  12. Down here in the sunny south there’s lots of Christian radio. I tune in when I drive around by myself, just to insure that my blood pressure doesn’t get too low. Most of it is rabidly political, with a strong dose of moralism thrown in for good measure. I am not aware of any stations that are not evangelical, and I am sad to report that anything like a consistent preaching of Christ is strangely absent. Every now and then I hear Alistair Begg, and I can usually count on him to deliver a message that exalts Christ.

  13. This is related (t.v. instead of radio), but I think the principle is the same.

    From my pastor’s blog, this morning. (oh how I’d love to hear something like this on Christian radio) :

    From time to time I flip through the television channels to watch various T.V. preachers, just to see what they’re up to. Not long ago I came across a woman who was speaking to a packed auditorium of several thousand people. I listened in for a few minutes and the message was clear; if you expect anything from God, if you want success, you had better get your life in order.

    It didn’t seem to occur to the preacher that these folks had spent the last week doing just that in any number of ways, mostly with limited or no success, and that some relief might be in order. It’s hard to understand why she would simply remind them of their wounds and then put the verbal whip on them to try harder. It’s also hard to understand why people would return week after week and subject themselves to reminders, couched in omnipotent terms, of their inadequacy. Well, actually, it’s not hard to understand at all.

    Preying on people’s fears, inadequacies and brokenness works. And it works precisely because we are so terribly vulnerable in this life. Once we get our wits about us in this world it becomes quite obvious that to get along we have to be good for something. We must demonstrate our value in tangible ways. Some are more or less up to the challenge, some fail miserably, and most people wobble along in fits and starts anxious for security, looking for shelter from the storm. They are suckers for bootstraps religion. Nothing else in life is free, why should God be free?

    Well, based on the generally lackluster performance most of us produce in this life I can fully appreciate the question. I’ve asked it myself. And the answer, surprisingly enough, has been given by God Himself.

    “When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”

    We call that the Good News. It is what I was hoping the T.V. preacher would get around to but she never did. So, here, in an unvarnished quote from that late purveyor of God’s glorious grace, Gerhard Forde, is the word of irrepressible freedom delivered to you this day; it is a word of pure gift.

    “We are justified freely, for Christ’s sake, by faith, without the exertion of our own strength, gaining of merit, or doing of works. To the age-old question, ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ the confessional answer is shocking: ‘Nothing! Just be still; shut up and listen for once in your life to what God the Almighty, creator and redeemer, is saying to his world and to you in the death and resurrection of his Son! Listen and believe!’”
    (Gerhard O. Forde, Justification by Faith (Philadelphia, 1983), page 22.)

    Isn’t it great? There is nothing left to do. Christ Jesus has done it all! Let go of your bootstraps, sit back, relax and take a deep breath of the free air. The Son has set you free!

    _____

    And then Gerhard Forde used to say (he’s with the Lord now),

    “Now that you don’t have to do anything…what do you want to do?”

    • cermak_rd says:

      And yet, in the context of “if you expect anything from God, if you want success, you had better get your life in order.”, this makes sense. The Almighty isn’t going to pay your bills for you or keep your house out of foreclosure or do anything else tangible for you. You have to figure out the best path you can for yourself and your family. That’s certainly a more useful message than the Health and Prosperity movement will give you. What your pastor was referring to was the intangible gifts that he (and presumedly you) believe the Almighty has bestowed upon Christians. That’s different and yes, that is, in your theology, a free gift. I think both your pastor and the woman he references could be right within their own contexts.

    • You wrote: “I listened in for a few minutes and the message was clear; if you expect anything from God, if you want success, you had better get your life in order…It didn’t seem to occur to the preacher that these folks had spent the last week doing just that in any number of ways, mostly with limited or no success, and that some relief might be in order.”

      That is really good, Steve. I think a “Preach it, Brother!” is in order! And an Amen!

  14. Do people actually listen to the radio? I don’t even own one. If I want to hear something, I stream it online. There you can find the best of Christian programming and easily filter what you don’t like. Pirate Christian Radio and Lutheran Public Radio are places I tune into frequently. Ancient Faith is also great listening, they also have great music.

    • Many do a lot of driving, like me…that’s where I listen to the radio the most.

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        Meh, that’s what an iPod is for. Just in case I feel the need to switch from Steven Curtis Chapman to Alicia Keys, then to Queen. Maybe if Xian music stations had that kind of a playlist, I’d listen more while I was driving.

      • I suppose I’ll tune in the classical station in the car on occasion, but if I’m driving distance, I do podcast. I stay awake better if my mental capacities are being stimulated.

  15. “Nightsounds with Bill Pearce”
    That brings back memories. I used to fall asleep as I listened to his program. Talk about a mellow voice. And he was a very good trombone player.

    I listen to 4 different stations here in south-central PA. 3 are mostly music, 1 is mostly preaching. I think the quality of the music stations depends as much on the host as on the music. There are some who really have something of value to say while most just blather about sentimental crap. The music played is much the same on all of them, but somehow it has more meaning when ordered and introduced by people who know how to minister. That is why it is nice to have multiple stations to switch between.

    • I love Nightsounds. I used to turn that on when I was scared at night or couldn’t sleep.

      That and the opening Debussy was perfect.

    • scrapiron says:

      Nightsounds was the only thing on Christian radio I ever liked. Went to sleep to it in college, when I could get to bed that early.
      My father-in-law runs a small Christian radio station and when I visit their house, it is on non-stop. I sometimes invent errands I have to run just to get away. It’s basically 24 hours of that awful Nashville Christian Ghetto CCM interspersed with short talking segments that either tell me how to get my finances squared away or how I should vote (without, of course, actually “telling” me how to vote).
      Nowdays, if I listen to radio at all, it’s public radio. It’s much more interesting to listen to people who think before they speak and you get a much higher fraction of that kind of talk on public radio.

  16. Ahhh, Nightsounds. I found that program when I first became a Christian and found it so comforting.

    I’m a Pandora fan, but occasionally listen to Ancient Faith Radio; there is some excellent teaching there as well as beautiful a cappella choral works. Can’t abide the CCM stuff.

    In all this, it would be fitting to give a shout out to Freddie Mercury for his great tune, “Radio Gaga.”

  17. I used to like to listen to sermons for late-night long-distance driving. There used to be reasonably diverse preaching, but these days it all seems to be staunchly fundamentalist. And the music, taken out of a congregational context, is pretty boring.

    • Me too, I always hunt around the dial for preachers when I’m on the road. Maybe its just me, but the pool of talented radio preachers seems to be shrinking. And even they are getting fewer and farther between, I assume because much of local mom and pop radio has been absorbed by Salem, Crawford, et. al.

      Bill Pearce was a gem. I had to get over all those old-timey Melody Four vinyls my Dad kept playing before I took him seriously, but later on I love to hear him on MBI and still later syndicated, hearing his voice, his thoughts during bedtime, it was like an old friend. And he was a top tier trombonist; he influenced a lost of Christian performers – like Doug Yeo of the Boston Symphony. That was talent but I can’t say if anything approaching that level is still around.

  18. David Cornwell says:

    In my car I listen to one of three local PBS stations, either for talk, jazz, or classical (Science Friday is great). Sometimes I listen to Cincy baseball in the car on WLW (when the static isn’t too bad). I’ll give Christian radio a quick listen, when nothing else is of interest, and it reminds me of why I dislike it so much.

    Streaming radio also is good at times, when working at a computer. Lots available.

  19. br. thomas says:

    I listen to sports and public radio and news in the car. Most of the music I hear is from my MP3 player. I do recommend the daily podcast from Pray As You Go, in terms of music & scripture reflection.

  20. The only christian radio I listen to is via the internet and that is mostly FBC Radio. (Foundations Bible College) Now the only reason I listen to it is the high church/choral music they play – lots of hymns/classical and classical instrumental. The funny thing is that this station is run by rabidly fundamentalist/separatist (Bob Jones Sr is a featured preacher) types who would probably faint if they knew that I (a progressive/emergent arminian Northener) liked the music they play… but they crack me up too – it certainly proves the colorful diversity that is american christendom and boy do they despise all things CCM/charismatic! with a serious twang – and no hint of irony ever – but I love the music – it makes me sing

  21. I know exactly when I started giving up on “Christian” stuff. It was in late 1999 when Family Christian Bookstores ran their “Yes I believe in God” campaign. That was a takeoff on what Cassie Bernall allegedly said right before she was shot at Columbine. I saw it as a blatant attempt to cash in on a tragedy. Since then, I”ve gotten away from Christian radio and a lot of “Christianese”.

  22. I had no idea that there is/was radio/ television. It’s all about the extraction of your last dollar from your purse/wallet. Come to think of it, so is the web. So is government radio/television. Hmmm

  23. cermak_rd says:

    One other thing I’ve noticed from Moody’s christian radio, it has more divorce talk than any radio station I have ever listened to. I could easily get the impression that Christian marriages are fragile as heck and break apart at the slightest stress. Now I know that isn’t true. Further the divorce rate where the couple attends services regularly together is quite low. So why the emphasis on divorce-proofing one’s marriage? It seems oddly misplaced on a channel that is not evangelistic.

    • Further the divorce rate where the couple attends services regularly together is quite low.

      But is this because those with troubled marriages stop going because they expect to be ostracized? (With good reason in many cases.)

    • Agree – the family counselling vibe gets tired very fast. But people talk about (a) what they love or (b) what they fear. So evengelical radio being 99.44% family counselling makes sense. It is just that I don’t care. And it is apparently the beginning and ending of their concerns [unless there is a potential apocalypse at hand – like Y2K!].

  24. I love listening to the Life-Study of the Bible. The archives are available for free at http://www.lsmradio.com/rad_archives.html

  25. I was in my thirities and driving into work at 1030 pm as a new nurse [on the night shift] when I founs Christian radio for the very first time…listening to Wayne Watson singing “Water Color Ponies” as I left my sleeping young sons and their Daddy while I drove to work. I sobbed for 14 miles.

    In the 20 years since, I have found inspiration and strength, as well as frustration and insulin comas from CCM stations. IMHO, the inspiration from a decade ago is now smaltz. But, maybe it is my problem…..

    • I like the old stuff better too – and just thinking out loud here but I’ve wondered if some of the old stuff was better because it came from artists who were redeemed from deep confusing spiritual waters but had discovered a wonderful river – so the music flowed as response to that –
      As for today – some of the music is flowing from people like me (who grew up in christian homes and frankly have had, in comparison, pretty boring spiritual lives) So instead of the music as response to discovering new life – now the music is a grasping attempt, a means, to find or manufacture a river of life…so inevitably it seems or is in some cases, insincere and shallow (and some is flowing from the dollars and cents motivation of record label/industrial music making….a sure way to be mediocre)

  26. In and out of my work truck, an hour commute – lot of radio time. Found that having music on the radio made the day drag on, any music (ccm and others) eventually comes around to the same song from earlier in the day plus with 3 to 4 minute songs makes for too many segments of the day. So talk radio gives me something to consider, but any current event/political talk gets old – I don’t care who they are you start to predict their tone and response quite accurately. Can’t take sports seriously enough to listen for 12 hours a day.

    The local christian ‘talk’ is an independent, the shows must buy their time. Most of the locals are gospel and grace centered with some ‘our church is the better church’. Focus on the Family (either way), J. Vernon McGee (cool), Charles Price (sometimes challenges), Watchmen on the Wall (comedy 1/2 hour), Swindoll, Rodgers, MacArthur and some others. Maybe 4 commercials a day and most of Saturday.

    For me, the ‘talk’ is the best bet for christian radio.

  27. I listen recently more than I used to; mostly thanks to discovering EWTN [Catholic Radio]. Some of their programming is actually interesting, and they frequently interview or talk to people who are *doing* something. They have call-in shows where people call in to ask a priest a question – there is an interesting diversity to the questions.

    I also tune to the local variety of Evangelical stations occasionally, but these seem devolved into (a) talking about parenting or (b) talking about end-times prophecies. Occasionally you get something different, but hearing adults refer to each other as “mommies”… I’m sorry, that turns my stomach; it is genuinely creepy. The end-times guys – I do not believe their interpretation – but they can be interesting, it is clear they have worked very hard to put that narrative together in as consistent a way as possible.

  28. Whenever I run across a Christian radio station, I immediately keep turning the dial. I don’t like the voices of many of the people on those stations and I don’t like most of what they say. I prefer public radio and a station that plays a good mix of older music and new music.

    • Yes JoanieD, I agree. I simply cannot listen to “Christian radio” anymore. It’s not the music with me. It’s the almost bored, smug attitude of so many of the “teachers” on these stations. Just verbally slapping each other on the back having it all together and allowing the listener the privilege of being in on their self-satisfied discussion.

  29. Cedric Klein says:

    Locally on the actual radio, I sometimes go to K-LOVE. Remembering the mid-80s when I actually defended Bob Larson for being edgy & relevent for discussing AT 4 IN THE AFTERNOON if oral sex was OK for married Christians (I think he said yes), I find radio “Safe for the Whole Family” to be a relief. Other times, I go to WYGS (an Indiana-based Gospel Music network). When I’m going to bed at night tho- I turn on the computer for LifeTalk from the Adventists or Moody- because I just like the music better, especially when I want to rest.

  30. As a child in the 1950’s, my father & I used to listen to Dr. Oswald Hoffman of The Lutheran Hour after church and dinner on Sundays. I will never forget his soothing voice…he never raised it to get his point across. My father gave many an “amen” to Dr. Hoffman’s teaching. Just a great memory for me.

  31. Jim Carter says:

    I have worked in Christian radio since 1986. I currently work at a Contemporary Christian Music station. It’s just Christian Entertainment. I hear some glimmers of hope every once in a while (a song with evangelistic content). Since the major Christian labels were all bought up by secular companies it has become entertainment. I am in the process of becoming a full time missionary with an organization involved with planting radio stations around the world with evangelism as their purpose. I just do not feel passionate for the entertainment outlet that Christian radio has become in the U.S. Not saying it is horrible – I am just not interested in it anymore.

  32. Is it just me, or can others tell, with only a few words, when they have turned to a preacher? I do not know what it is, but I almost always know immediately when I have hit a Christian station. The one exception is when the Catholic stations have nuns on. They don’t speak the same way.

  33. Our area is unique in that we actually have a locally run, independent Christian station. The focus is on adult contemporary christian music, though they have a program that focuses on edgier things and also one that features black gospel. The music is similar to K-love, though maybe toned down a bit. However, they don’t hesitate to play older things from time to time. The theory is that good music is good, whether it’s new or has been around for a decade or so. What I notice though, is the DJs usually seem to be having a good time. It is listener supported, so the ads are all “day sponsorships” or just announcements of some upcoming local event. They do streaming too, though I am a Luddite, so can’t direct you there, though the station call letters are KAXL.

  34. I’ve listened to Christian radio a few times, but it never lasts long. I don’t like Christian Rock and most of the radio preachers that I’ve heard are either incredibly dull or full of fluff. I’d rather listen to NPR; at least I might learn of a new, interesting novel or biography, or might learn something about the economy, or science, or health.

  35. Most Christian radio stations here is middle Georgia are either country gospel or mind-numbing musak. I prefer my Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, George Harrison, Wilco, etc CD’s.

  36. I was confirmed in a Lutheran church and am currently a member of a 4-C’s Congregational (not UCC) church– but I sure enjoy listening to WJMJ-FM (88.9), the official station of the Office of Radio and Television of the (RC) Archdiocese of Hartford. “We play music you don’t hear anywhere else”– and that’s for sure! Big Band. Standards (Dick Robinson’s American Standards by the Sea). 1950’s pre-Elvis Hit Parade. Kitschy Top 40 from the 1960’s and 1970’s. A way cool mix. And come late November / early December, guess what? No Christmas music! How refreshing. But then, starting December 24 in the evening and continuing through January 6, they let the Christmas music rip. And all genres– classical, folk, pop, etc. (What I like about the RC’s– and the Lutherans and Episcopalians, too. They go by the Church Year, not the Commercial Year.) Of course, they make time to do the Angelus, do a daily broadcast of Celebration of the Eucharist, and have mini-sermonettes (three minutes or so) by Fr John of the Office of Radio and TV scattered throughout the day– but these are secondary to the music (and btw, they still do two hours of real classical music each night, although unfortunately they seem to have stopped their tradition of playing a full-length opera on Saturday evenings). And over the last couple months, Fr John as well as the Archbishop have gone on the air a number of times to talk about freedom of conscience and religious liberty. The HHS mandate has certainly stirred up the hierarchy….

  37. I’m glad to see a few people here mention Ancient Faith Radio. I love that station/website.

  38. I have been concerned about Christian radio/TV for a long time now. It seems that many stations only care if the check clears the bank, not “the faith once delivered to the saints” Many Christian radio stations air cults, and other unorthodox ministries. I could give many examples. Ichabod (above) mentioned Crawford. Crawford airs many unorthodox ministries. These include off-shoots of Herbert W Armstrong. All radical deniers of the Holy Trinity, and other Christian teachings. One program “Born To Win” with Ronald L Dart has now been cancelled from over twenty-two Christian stations. Dart a former Baptist was a leader in Armstrong’s empire, and was also one of the founders with Armstrong’s son, forming The Church Of God International. Why is Crawford still airing Dart’s program? Why is Crawford airing other Armstrong groups? One of Crawford’s stations in OR is airing a Dawn Bible Students program. If you know the teachings of the JW’S, then you will know the teachings of the Dawn Bible Students. Something is very wrong here! One Christian station in AR KAAY “Hear The Word” is airing five anti-Trinitarian programs. I do PTL for those Christian stations that have cancelled these unorthodox programs. Yes Christian music has really changed, but now you have well known Gospel artist’s attacking the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Trinity. 8 time Dove award winner, author of many many well known Gospel songs(He’s Still Working On Me” Joel Hemphill, of the Hemphill’s is one sad example. How one can deny the Deity of Christ, mock the Holy Trinity, write books attacking these cardinal teachings of the Faith, and still have your music played on Christian radio is a real shame. I now see Hemphill’s books on many anti-Deity of Christ sites, one is the following: http://www.21stcr.org Some of these individuals listed on this site are from the Atlanta Bible College, which also has duped many Evangelical Christians. I have never seen such a lack of discernment and a who cares attitude in the church.

    May God Help Us!