Getting Results on Radio


Winning Souls through Effective Local Church Broadcasting

“Radio is so expensive, and we never see any results from it,” says one local pastor. “I believe in supporting our international
broadcast, and I would like to do something on a local level, but I just don’t have the time or money to explore the options available to us!”

Radio is the most versatile form of media available to the church today. Newspapers have to be picked up and read. Television has to be watched. Books have to be concentrated on. Computers demand a certain amount of expertise from the user. But radio can be played while people are cooking, jogging, eating dinner, driving in the car, or working at the office. It reaches behind the closed door of the ghetto or the high-rise exclusive apartment building.

If it is so effective in reaching people, why don’t more UPCI churches have local radio ministries? Because it is a medium that has
to be understood to be used effectively. For example, most local church broadcasting is on Sunday morning. But fewer people listen to radio on Sunday morning than any other time of the week. With radio, when you advertise has a great deal to do with the kind of results you achieve. Some churches with ample funds broadcast entire services on radio. But very few churches have this kind of advertising budget, and very few popular radio stations will allow even fifteen-minute or halfhour block programming into their format.

What kind of station should our church be on? Radio can deliver the exact market you want to reach. Men? Ages 18-34? Advertise on a classic rock station. Women 18-34? Try an oldies station. Teenagers? Ages 12-18? Use a Top 40 or Hit station. Perhaps you would like to reach a wide, varied audience. Try a country music station. Country music has the widest demographic available to the advertiser. Its strong demographic is ages 12-49. For an older audience, women, ages 45-65, you will never fail with an easy-listening station. Or for men, ages 45-65, your sure-fire bet is the local news, talk, and sports station. The best thing to do is call the sales representative from a local station, and ask them to bring out the Arbitron or Birch Report for your market, and explain the makeup of their listeners. I would recommend a country music station for the broadest listener base. One word of warning: every station is number one in something! So make sure it is the audience you are trying to target.

What type of local program should we put on the air? For your initial foray into radio you might be surprised at my answer. I would suggest you buy a 90-day schedule of 30- or 60-second commercials. Listen to the average commercial. It is geared to inspire the listener to stop by the place of business. It does not try to tune your car on the air; it tells you all the reasons to stop by Quick Tune and let them do it. I do not think that having church on the air, explosive preaching, put-your-hand-on-the-radio faith is going to fill your church pews. Commercial advertising informs you about what the advertised business can do for you. I believe that same concept will work for the church! Tell them what Jesus will do for them!Imagine the music fading, the station I.D. given, and then all of a sudden a familiar voice filters through your car radio: “Hi! I’m Thomas Anderson, known to many of you as the town drunk. I guess I filled the Saturday night jail notes in the local paper for many years. My life was in shambles, and my marriage, like everything I drank, was on the rocks. But, one day, I met a guy named _______. It turned out that he was a member of Strathaven United Pentecostal Church, at 616 Main Street, here in Oakdale. What he told me changed my life. Now I’m off the booze, and my marriage is stronger than ever! Thank you, Jesus! And the exciting thing is, it can happen to you, too! Call _______ at 878-3779! Or stop by the Strathaven UPC on Main St., and like me, you can be enjoying a new life, too!”

The power of a testimony will draw people to your church. The radio listener’s axiom is “What have you done for me lately?” Tell
them, and grab their attention! The simple human voice with no music or sound effects often will demand more attention than much of the over-produced junk currently on the airways.

Why a 90-day schedule or commitment? Because radio sells through repetition. It is better, though more expensive, to buy specified times that your commercials be played. It is better to run one commercial during a highly-listened-to time of day than to buy a dozen to be played at random throughout the day. If you can afford sponsorships of Paul Harvey, Rush Limbaugh, Larry King, or any other popular radio show, by all means, do it! With a rural church, try to sponsor the morning news or agriculture report. If you cannot afford to buy a news or program sponsorship, another effective way to cash in on the time slot is to buy an adjacency. That means that you are paying for your ad to run next to the sponsor’s ad, adjacent to it. Also the longer the commitment, the cheaper the per-ad rate.

Will our church be compromised by the opinions of the host or program? Modern radio audiences are sophisticated. They know that you are trying to reach the audiences of the station, and are in no way endorsing the message of the host, the station, or its music! You should tell them what you are about in your commercial message.What time of day? Early morning is the most listened-to time on most stations, followed by late afternoon. These two times of day are called drive times, because people are in their cars listening on the way to work or on their way home. Consequently, the morning commercials are most expensive, followed by late-afternoon commercials, with midday generally coming third in listenership. This does vary by station, format, and market, so do not be afraid to ask your station advertising representative several questions. In the battle of mass media, radio
controls the daytime hours, with television watching dominating the evening hours. That is why stations will offer you a cheaper rate during the evening hours.

What about weekends? Saturdays more than Sundays. If you can get a station to let you have block programming on a Saturday afternoon, that is the most highly listened-to time. Saturday evenings, Sunday morning, and Sunday night are considered dead zones by commercial advertisers and radio professionals. That is why they have always been so eager to accommodate your church at those times, because essentially nobody is listening. You are just preaching to the choir and your own people getting ready to go to church.

I don’t want to advertise on the religious station. I want to reach sinners! I want to get on the rock station, the country station,
the rap station, but they will not allow church programming. That is the beauty of buying 30- and 60-second commercial schedules. They cannot refuse your money! If they say quality is not good enough, then have them produce your commercials as you or your church people do the testifying!

I can’t afford a consistent schedule like you’ve suggested, but I would like to try radio. Any other options? Yes. About once a month, mail every station in your community a public service announcement concerning an activity at your church. If you do not abuse the privilege, and make it about 15 seconds long, they will read it free of charge. The are required to by FCC law. Also you might sponsor a brush-arbor revival, or a open-air singspiration, and hire a local radio station to do a live remote broadcast during your event. Generally they will do three or four twominute cutaways to your live event each hour. It is fairly expensive, because you are paying the personality’s salary as well, but if you load him up with things to give away, he will draw a crowd to your event.

What do other religious faiths do? In my twelve years as a radio personality, creative director, sales manager, and general manager of several radio stations, I found that many Christian faiths, such as the American Lutheran Church, have communications divisions that have a versatile approach to using radio. They provide various 90second commentaries that can be sponsored by Christian businessmen, four-minute daily Christian financial advice segments, and an exciting array of 15-minute, 30-minute, even one-hour weekly programs that are geared to the country, rock and classical formats of various radio stations. In this way, their Lutheran sponsors can crack any type of format. For example, Coca-Cola has one message it is trying to get across, but on country stations, it is delivered with country-style music; on rock stations, with rock-style music; classical, and so on.

How do I write a 15-second, 30-second, or 60second ad? Take a typical 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of typing paper. Make sure you double space and type in all capital letters. With one-inch margins, a 15-second commercial will be three lines long. A 30-second commercial is six lines long. A 60-second commercial should be roughly ten lines long. Make sure the church name or address is mentioned one time every fifteen seconds. And always end with the church name and address. Mentioning a person’s name somewhere in the ad will help make it more personal.

Satan is called prince of the power of the air. For too long now, we have let him control the airwaves. With a little planning, a lot of prayer, and a few powerful testimonies, your local radio ministry could start pumping new converts into your pews! You can get local results from local church radio advertising and ministry!

Brother Yohe is a twelve-year radio veteran. From 1991 until now, he has traveled the U.S. as a UPCI evangelist.