Brian Sanders “CMB Q&A”

brian_sandersDear Christian Radio…A little CMB Q&A with Brian Sanders

15 leaders from Positive Alternative Radio landed in Orlando and took CMB’s Momentum 2015 by storm.  We wanted to take a few moments and interview Brian Sanders, PAR’s EVP, about his CMB experience.

Was this your first CMB?

Yes.  And I must say, it was well worth it.

What was your biggest takeaway from CMB?  

I look for practical ideas.  There were two practical items that I came back with…

First – Brian McIntyre from Shine FM told me about the #250 service they use during Sharathon.  Instead of giving out a 10-digit phone number, you give out #250.  I’m researching that and it looks very promising.

Second – during one of our table discussions I was seated with a morning show team.  The young lady said that once a month she does Girls Night Out.  The station rents the local Panera.  They promote the event on-air and listeners go to their website and sign up.  It’s an amazing way for listeners to bond with a high-profile on-air personality.  We’re stealing that idea and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Instead of a takeaway, what was a highlight?  

I have to say seeing our WCQR team win medium market station of the year was huge.  I’m so very proud of that team.  Other highlights included the worship on Wednesday night.  The best way I can put it is that Jesus was in the house.

So, there’s a story floating around about a very embarrassing moment for you at CMB.  Can you share?

Sheesh.  (Deep breath)

It was the night of the awards.  We were on the front row of tables.  24 inches from me at another table is a guy in a t-shirt and a little hat.  I had NO clue who this fella is.  None.  Zero.

An artist on stage says, “Come on everyone, get on your feet!!!!”

The guy next to me, in the t-shirt and little hat, looks at me and says, “Come on brother!  Get up and rock it!”

Jokingly, I said, “Give me a second.  I don’t move as fast as I used too.”

The dude takes one step.  Wraps his arms around my massive girth and acts like he’s helping to lift me out of the chair.  We share a laugh.  He puts his hand out for a high five and I gave him one.  I thought to myself he’s a nice guy and pretty funny.

Well….a little later in the evening they give out the Rich Mullins award.  It’s given to an artist who’s made tremendous impact in Christian Music.

Who won it?  The little guy sitting next to me in a t-shirt and a little hat!

It was Toby Mac.


Allow me to publicly apologize to Toby.

Yes, I’m a fan of your music.

But let me confess that I could not pick you out of a police line up.

I love the music our stations play.

But I couldn’t tell you who was a band member of Finding Favor or Rend Collective.

So embarrassing.

Sitting behind me was my wife, Kayla, and to my right was my friend, Jerry Grimes.  I turned and looked at them.  They were howling with laughter at me.

It’s already become a legendary story in PAR and one that I will never live down.

Again….sorry Toby!

Speaking of artists, tell us who you felt owned the stage?

I’m a huge Rend Collective fan.  I know their songs.  Couldn’t pick them out of a Black Friday crowd at Target, but I love their music.  So for me, I love hearing them.

I’d say the best performance I saw at Momentum was Sidewalk Prophets.  The lead singer OWNS the stage.  There’s a presence about him that draws you in.

Lauren Daigle should be awarded some kind of title as having “The most amazing voice.”  It simply fills every inch of a room and so very powerful.

There were numerous speakers and education sessions.  Which ones hit you?

Let me start by saying Brant Hansen knocked it out of the park.  I wish he would have had an hour or longer.  I was pushed to the cross in repentance and now seeking the Lord for grace to be unoffendable.  Lord knows, that will take a lot of grace….a whole lot.

Mark Ramsey, and his 10 secrets for radio success, was very insightful.  Every person on staff at a radio station should listen to the talk.  It will help you see the world from a PD’s perspective.

Erica Farber was a hit!  I loved all the research on radio listening and where trends seem to be pointing us.  Excellent information!

Will PAR continue to attend?

Oh yes.  We strongly believe in the mission of CMB and the leadership of Michelle Younkman.  We have a five-year agreement to be sponsors of the tickets for Night of Joy.

We plan to take our leaders every year for the next five years.

What would you change about the Momentum conference?

Let me be honest, I’d have golf carts everywhere to haul my tail from place to place.  Also, I’d want people with water guns full of ice water to soak me as I pass them.  Seriously, we’re considering a PAR deodorant for everyone for next year’s CMB swag bag.  IT WAS HOT!!!!!

In reality, I’d like to see 2 – 3 hours where I could sit at a table with fellow industry friends and have questions come up on the screen such as:

  • What one thing did your station do this past year that you’re most proud of?
  • What one thing did your station do this past year that you’d never do again?
  • What did you learn this past year about leading a team well?

That would help me come back with some hands-on things to implement.  Let’s face it; I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  I need all the help I can get with ideas.

To Michelle, Brittany, Jason Sharp (who is #wearePAR Alumni) and the entire CMB Board and Leadership team – hats off to you.  What a major undertaking and I must say I came back focused and ready to tackle the tasks at hand.  We were honored to play a small role.

What would you say to other radio leaders who didn’t attend CMB’s Momentum?

Plan now to attend and here’s why…No matter how good of a leader you are, you don’t know everything.

Go and ask questions.  I did.

I went asking people what worked and what didn’t work.

Look for those one or two ideas that you can bring back and will help your station be better.

Does it cost money to attend?  Yes.  But you and your leadership team are worth that investment.

And one more thing…you’ll get killer Mickey Mouse ice cream and a Mickey Rice Crispy treat!

Dear Christian Radio…make plans to attend CMB’s Momentum in 2016.

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

PAR has five 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.  You can find more articles from the leaders of PAR at www.dearchristianradio.com.

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