Brian Sanders “Review of Momentum 2018”
Momentum 2018 has come and gone. I must say, it was a good one. My hat’s off to Michelle and her team; they worked tirelessly and pulled off a conference that was both beneficial and hurricane free. Yay!
With that said, here’s my annual review of Momentum…
Our team’s experience at Universal Orlando Resort was good. I can say without hesitation that it was much improved over last year. It appears that Universal has taken some crucial steps toward improving its customer service. The effort was noticeable. If I had to guess, Universal is trying to emulate the Disney standard—that’s impressive. Here’s a good leadership lesson that relates well: in order to be better one should try to copy the best.
The moments were plentiful during CMB’s four day conference. I could share pages of them; however, to keep things short, these are three of my favorite memories from Momentum ’18:
PAR’s leadership team brought a life-size cardboard cutout of President Lincoln. They did this because it fit so well with our video theme. They felt it would be a conversation starter…and a conversation starter it was! Response to the cutout was so strong that the PAR Leadership team elected to take Mr. Lincoln to the artist mixer. Seeing President Lincoln in the artist mix pictures was hilarious! In fact, those pics of artists posing with Lincoln began popping up all over social media! It was awesome!! The lesson: trust your team.
Seeing Paul Martin win the Scott Campbell Industry Achievement Award is another favorite memory. Paul has labored in this industry for years, helping stations and networks with sales, leadership, and programming. It was a well-deserved honor. I must say that I simply loved his speech, especially when he thanked his wife, Paula. What a moment. The lesson here: behind every good man is an amazing woman. Paul expressed it beautifully.
It would be disingenuous of me not to add WCQR’s Station of the Year win among my list of favorites. As you know, WCQR is a PAR station. Its general manager, Adam McCain, is one of many amazing young leaders within our organization. I can tell you first hand that his team works hard every day. That daily unquenchable labor of love was recognized at Momentum this year. It was a proud and teachable moment. The lesson here: know your passion and give it your all, every day.
There were lots of new experiences, lessons, and other things I—along with my team—found useful and enlightening at this year’s gathering. Here are three that stood out to me:
Paul Adams led a fascinating breakout session on podcasting. PAR is getting into the podcasting realm. Some may think that we’re late to the party, but the reality is you’ll never find us jumping out first on much of anything. Instead, we’re going to let others storm the gates and take their losses. We’ll sit back, watch, take notes, and then learn from the mistakes made by those early adopters.
Adams said stations should do podcasts that tell the stories of our listeners. Many of us in Christian radio already air 60 second stories that share how the station has changed a listener’s life. In most cases, that story—as well as others—originated from a 10 or 20 minute interview. The solution: convert your interviews into podcasts. Brilliant!
Additionally, Adams suggested that stations create podcasts that help explain how money and donations are being spent by the station. Again, brilliant!
This year’s speakers seemed way more afraid of the driverless car and what it could mean to radio’s future than I will ever be. I realize this position may trigger a few of you, and perhaps I’m just an idiot on the subject, but I remain unafraid. I’m not scared of driverless cars, and here’s why: the argument isn’t about the platform…it’s about the content. If the content is great, listeners will want it and they’ll listen to us in a car that requires a driver or one that doesn’t.
Am I the only one who thinks it will take time to convince the population that driverless cars are safe? Who will be able to afford driverless cars? What will the insurance on these vehicles look like? These and other questions will have to be answered before we fully understand where driverless technology will take our industry.
Also, let me go on record with this statement: I will never own a driverless car if the software is made by Microsoft. My reasoning on this is equally simple…I don’t want to be piloted at 85+ mph and receive this message: “Shutting down to do 25 updates.” No thanks. #sarcasm
Being the Best
While at Momentum, I was reminded that radio isn’t about being local; it’s about being the best! You must have the best content. Your station’s content can certainly include local information, but remember, it’s the content that is fun, interesting, and engaging—not the location from which it originates.
A big theme at Momentum was for Christian Radio to have fun. Alan Mason even said, “Don’t try to be funny. Have fun.” Find or create content that is fun. Don’t try to be stand-up comedians, just do bits that are fun. Greater still, allow listeners to call in and help create the experience. Don’t try and make your co-host laugh. Instead, work on making your listeners smile.
There were a few phenomenal speakers at Momentum ’18. Among them, Kevin Lehman was my hands down favorite. He was funny, informative, and inspirational. He gave life changing content…the dude rocked it.
Lehman reminded us all that we were created for a purpose and that purpose was from God. During his Saturday session, he explained that all the stuff of life has been used to help make us better leaders…used to make me the leader God wants. It was all very personal. Lehman was nothing short of amazing. The grand takeaway for me: Have confidence and take risks.
I came away with some general observations from and gentle recommendations for Momentum. They are as follows:
Leadership – Christian radio must continue developing leaders. The industry needs more leadership across the board. We need people—experts in their fields or in life—helping us become better leaders. We need this so we can have the right wisdom and best teams to navigate the future. My friends, everything rises and falls on leadership…even in radio.
We have great music. Programming is well practiced as both a science and an art. Most stations have those pieces mastered and in place. The greatest growth potential remains in the areas of leadership and vision. As an industry, we need to be asking: “Where do we want this medium to go?” “How can radio be used to change the world?” And, “How can we grow it?”
I’m going to say something bold here—the people in the ballroom don’t need another session on programming. You know…weather, time, traffic, back announcing, and so on. We get it.
I’d rather learn about the secrets of talent development or dissect examples of great radio content.
We need leaders—those people who aren’t afraid to make decisions. We sit in the sessions and we hear about making changes to be better. We need to leave with the courage to make those changes. Leadership is the difference maker between the idea and the action.
Women in Leadership – It’s no secret that our format attracts and caters to a female audience. As such, a wonderful opportunity waits in the wings. Imagine our industry’s top female leaders taking the stage to speak with authority on a myriad of topics, especially what appeals to the female listener as well as her own life experiences. I would love that and welcome it in 2019.
On that note: beginning in 2019, PAR will launch a free outreach program to women who serve in leadership within our industry. Stay tuned…
Fundraising – I want to know more about what’s working in fundraising. What are the new tips and tricks? We can always get better in this area and getting the right advice is critical to success.
Caffeine – Sometimes the minors are major. It seemed the hotel staff was a bit too eager to put the coffee and tea away as soon as they possibly could. I love having a cup of coffee during the sessions. Let’s face it, some of us are total coffee addicts and need our fix. #justsayin’
For PAR, Momentum 2018 was a success. We gained 12 new #ENCW partners, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Wow! Five people signed up for PAR’s free weekly leadership mentoring program. As previously mentioned, WCQR took home a major award and PAR was honored to be nominated for the Rob Gregory Award.
Each year we are able to reconnect with old friends and even manage to make some new ones. I survived the Florida heat and humidity. I’d say that makes for a GREAT Momentum!
PAR will return to Momentum in 2019 with even bigger plans! If you haven’t been to CMB’s Momentum, you should attend next year. You’ll leave with a better understanding of where Christian radio is headed and what’s driving it.
See you next year!
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. Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org