Brian Sanders

Brian Sanders “In Defense of KLOVE”

In Defense of KLOVE


HisAir.Net posted a story about KLOVE going live on stations in New York, DC, Atlanta and other cities starting June 1. The post generated 199 comments. Wow!


Let’s get something straight out of the box…KLOVE isn’t wrong. They have a clear mission and vision and they’re passionately pursuing it. While many in Christian radio are wringing their hands and privately complaining, EMF continues its march across America buying stations.


Notice the difference…one group is complaining while another is focused on doing the work.


I hear the voices now:


“How can KLOVE be doing this?”


“They’re changing Christian Radio!”


“They’re decreasing the workforce!”


I must defend KLOVE. They’re doing what all of us want to do…they’re being successful. For so many years and in so many areas, there was only one option for Christian media content. As a result, many broadcasters won by default. In other words, organizations won because they were the only option, not because they were great.


KLOVE shows up with a passion to win, a willingness to compete, a quality product with solid content, and a strong marketing budget. Then, suddenly, the phone lines to the complaint department begin to heat up! My dear friends, complaining about EMF’s business model does you no good. They have a right to pursue their passion just as you do. Instead of complaining about EMF, do what they do…get in the game!


I say this with all kindness and affection. To the local operators, the days of winning by default are over. You must win based on quality. Listeners want quality. They flock to it. The more listeners you have, the better your income. Do you want to win? Then increase your quality.


For many of you, the words “increase your quality” scare you to death.


It means…

  • Having hard conversations with on-air talent
  • Raising extra funds for a generator because the power company isn’t reliable
  • Increasing your fundraiser goal so you can hire additional personnel
  • Practicing candor and tackling problems in the building so a healthy culture can be born
  • Finding the money for a music test
  • Running your station more like a business and less like Vacation Bible School


Finally, it means wanting to win! You have a choice. Do you whine or do you win? The only thing separating you and EMF are the zeros.


You can…


  • Make your talent better
  • Raise more money
  • Increase audience
  • Invest in marketing
  • Attend events and turn listeners into friends and donors


Someone will email and say, “We’re losing the record companies. If an artist can have a hit on KLOVE, then the record companies don’t need us.” Yo cupcake…you don’t need the record companies. You can download the music you need for .99 cents. In 2019, your job is to be great, not just good, but great.


Begin asking your team the question, “How can we be great?” Ask that question about your signal quality, on-air talent, music selection, event execution, relationship building, fundraising, letter writing and team culture.


Also, why do we complain about KLOVE when they acquire a new signal? People post complaints and concerns about classic stations going away. That isn’t KLOVE’s fault. The ownership of the station had to make a decision to sell. Blame them, not the station pursuing their passion.


At some point, local Christian radio operators will study how Target thrives in an age of Walmart. We’ll read books about how Lowe’s Home Improvement learned to succeed in a market dominated by Home Depot. Perhaps we’ll google articles about how ACE Hardware and Dollar General saw a resurgence in their brands even with the dominance of other big box retail companies.


Learning the principles of how they differentiated themselves can help us win–but will we take the time to learn? And once learned, will we implement?


KLOVE isn’t wrong. Maybe we’re just afraid to play the game.



Brian Sanders serves as Executive Vice President of Positive Alternative Radio. He regularly writes and speaks on leadership topics. His new book, “Leadership Endurance,” can be ordered now. Click HERE.

4 thoughts on “Brian Sanders “In Defense of KLOVE”

  • Brian, you make some very good points about the success of EMF (KLOVE/Air 1). They are a good group of people who love the LORD and have done a great job executing their business model. I think what causes concern is the impact on market share in the local communities where small non-com stations do not have sufficient resources or talent to compete with giants like KLOVE.

    My concern is not their success but what might happen in the future should they fail or find it necessary to close stations nationwide thereby leaving a void in communities where local Christian broadcasters found it necessary to sale or close shop. Of course, this is the challenge of doing business in a free market where giants control the playing field and can create ghost towns when they move out. My suggestion to local stations bumping heads with KLOVE or another giant is not to compete (unless you have the financial means to do so) but to consider changing formats to appeal to a different demographic. Most locals run hybrid formats for revenue purposes which doesn’t compete well with all music stations where most listeners prefer more music and less talk. But even hybrids can lessen the impact by adding music segments between the talk and Bible-teaching. This can help keep your audience locked-in a little longer.

    Local stations can also beat-out the giants by becoming the king of local promotions — especially concert promotions with major artist groups. This is an excellent way of branding and growing the audience. It can also produce extra revenue if you solicit local businesses to underwrite your concert promotions. Local stations should also consider following the EMF model of asking listeners to pledge $40 a month rather than $20 or whatever the listener would like to pledge. This has proven to be a good strategy for EMI by consistently asking for $40 a month. Their message has been the same since the 40-days of Noah. They have proven this will work with listeners. They generally raise 175 to 200 million a year. While EMF has hurt the local station but local stations should learn from EMF’s success and borrow their recipe for growing a better station.

    Again, Brian, thanks for sharing! And, may God bless our friends at EMF and bless our local stations who are the salt and light in Christian radio!

    • Learn how to raise more money. Cast a vision to major donors to market their local station and ask them to fund it (billboards, busses, etc.) Search for great talent that connects to the local community. Be seen in the local community at community events. Out serve KLOVE in the local community.

  • This is so very well stated, Brian.

    I’ve heard it said, “You can be right or you can be happy.” Taking it one step further … “You can have contempt or you can compete.”

  • Good ideas, Matthew, how to compete locally. Paul, “contempt” might be a little to strong of a word to use in this case. I don’t know anyone in the industry that feels that way about EMF or any other Christian broadcasters. I think a more appropriate word might be “concern”. Concern that small and midsize markets can’t support four or five Christian stations competing for the same listener group.
    I was speaking with a GM this morning in a small market where he is faced with competing with six other Christian signals saturating his market. Four of the six are running the same format. Somewhat of an overkill for a small market. It’s the small and midsize markets that have this concern with mega networks moving into their spectrum. Major markets, like Seattle, are not affected as much as these stations have the ability to compete with anyone. But, you are right. It is better to compete and do your best than harbor bad feelings toward others.


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