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Brian Sanders “Leadership in Christian Radio” Part 1

interview-briansDear Christian Radio,

There’s a famous apocryphal story regarding Abraham Lincoln.  Before delivering the Emancipation Proclamation he met with his seven cabinet members.  He presented the speech and then took a vote to secure their approval.  One by one the seven cabinet members said, “Nay.”  After surveying all seven, Lincoln voted.  He said, “Aye!” Followed by, “The ayes have it.”

Leaders advance the cause even in the face of opposition…even if it means going it alone.

We have a leadership crisis in Christian radio.

Before you click off this blog allow me to offer some evidence for the crisis.

Local Christian radio is disappearing. 

Instead of meeting with the team and casting a vision, not just for survival but to win the market – many stations have simply thrown in the towel and sold.  

The lack of new talent coming in to our industry, and dissatisfaction among those who work in Christian radio displays a lack of leadership.

Why are we having a tough time attracting new talent?

Why are so many who work in Christian radio so disgruntled?

As leaders, we’ve focused exclusively on embracing new technology to expand our reach instead of building a winning culture within the walls of our organization. 

If we have a strong culture, where people are passionate and feel they are not “working” but “investing their lives” – we will attract new talent and draw out unknown talent and passion from those already on our team.

There’s a sense of  “we’re running out the clock.”  

Instead of “Imagineering” the future and equipping our teams to make it a reality, many are just hoping Christian radio remains viable so they can retire. 

How do we right the ship?

We lead.

We must lead.

The answer is simple but the work that comes with it is very hard. 

Perhaps you’re sitting in your office reading this blog.

You know you have issues in the building.

There’s grumbling.

Team members just “clock in”.  They’re not passionate.

You’ve been considering the future of the ministry and you realize you don’t have a 3 or 5-year vision.  That can change beginning today.  You can change it.

You need to expand your team but can’t find the right person.  Is it the culture within the building?  Do people want to work for your organization?

But the culture building thing seems tough.  You have no idea where to start.

Maybe you’ll just sell.  Perhaps begin some quiet back room talks…then talk to a few of your influential board members and then make it all a reality.

Please don’t sell.

Please don’t just sit there and consider what could be.


Here are three steps you can take this week.  It will take some courage but God has put you in your position to lead.

  1. Gather your team for an amnesty meeting this week. An amnesty meeting?     Announce to the team that you want to know what is broken.  What’s wrong with the culture?  Where are communication breakdowns?  To get the conversation started and encourage candor simply announce, “I’m granting amnesty.  You cannot be fired for anything you say in the next 90 minutes. Be honest. Be truthful. You have amnesty.”   Get the conversation started.  Ask hard questions.  Prepare your heart that things aren’t as great as you may think they are.  
  2. Fix the easy things. Within 10 days, fix at least three things that rise to the surface during the amnesty meeting.  You’ll gain your team’s trust. 
  3. Finally, in your weekly staff meeting go through each of the issues that were listed in that meeting. Give an update on each one. Incorporate the team’s help in fixing them.  

Dear Christian Radio, it’s time we say “aye”.

Part 2 in this series “Leadership in Christian Radio” will be posted next week… 

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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