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Christian Radio Reacts to Mandisa Passing

In no other radio format do the artists that are played by the stations connect with the audience like they do in Christian Radio. Mandisa was at the top of the list of artists that made herself available to share her life, the ups and the downs, with listeners.  

As news of Mandisa’s untimely death spread early Friday morning, Christian Radio morning shows were on the air sharing the tragic news. Here’s how many handled it: 

Kevin Avery WFSH/Atlanta – “We were as shocked & heartbroken as the entire CCM community was. We shared from our hearts what Mandisa meant to us and our listeners. Taylor, who is the absolute best communicator I’ve ever heard at sharing her unfiltered emotions, paid a very personal tribute to Mandisa, expressing & identifying with our audience in the shared moment. Then we opened the phones for listeners to share their feelings. One listener, Clara, said it best, “Her music was a lifeline. Overcomer literally saved my life.”

Carder Price KSBJ/Houston – “Our team acted very fast to get our socials updated, and pointed to the person that Mandisa was. Plus we had a video of a special moment where listeners had shared the reasons they love her, filmed back in 2017. So we promoted the video and a wonderful tribute that Rachelle wrote. When we first heard, we announced the news in our daily prayer segment, so it was natural then to pray for anyone going through grief. We later aired a clip of her talking about her singleness, something that she had recently (when she said it in 2017) gotten great perspective on, able to focus on doing more ministry with her time. We wanted to remind people/share with them for the first time about how vulnerable she was, and how she used that to serve God. Plus, the clip was also able to encourage anyone NOW that is going through that.”

John Hudson KLTY/Dallas – “It was an ordinary Friday morning, until it wasn’t. At 6:58 AM we received a text message from our P.D. Mike Prendergast, that Mandisa was no longer with us. I immediately called Mike to verify, and he had already spoken with her label confirming the tragic news. I asked Mike if we could punt our planned clock and immediately stop down with this, which he was 100% on board with. We had to take a few seconds to let it all set in… We were hurt, sad, vulnerable, shocked, and breathless. Mandisa was our friend, and our friend was gone… We opened the mics and told our listening family the tragic news and immediately played her version of Waymaker. That song hit different on Friday… We began to tell our personal stories we’ve had over the years with Mandisa, and just how honest, funny, and raw she was with us. Then we asked our listening family to call and share what Mandisa’s music and life have meant to them over the years… Story after story poured in of how Mandisa’s music helped people through their cancer diagnosis, heartache, starting points, renewals and redemption echoed in between her songs that were inserted. Intertwining her music with stories of redemption and God’s love was the only way we knew to pay tribute to our friend. Mandisa is with our Lord, singing praises to our God with that bright, powerful voice that he gave her. Until then, Mandisa…”

Summer Shepherd WGTS/Wash DC – “We first learned of Mandisa’s passing when a coworker ran into the studio to share the news. We were shocked. Immediately we started searching for details, but the only news to have broken was from K-LOVE, so we started reaching out to contacts to confirm what was reported. We knew how devastating this news would be to all who loved her, so wanted to make sure we were doing our due diligence and being factual. When we did share the heart wrenching news, we did it in a way that reminded listeners of the hope we have, the legacy she left, offered prayer where needed, and encouraged others to reach out to those they knew who were hurting in whatever situation they found themselves in. Naturally we played Mandisa’s music, as so much of it speaks to hope and strength in Jesus. As a team we began a thread of communication between shows to share details and strategies, but also to allow us to support each other in grieving, as she touched our lives too. As media missionaries, it’s vital that we take the time to confirm what we share and to package the news in a way that fulfills our mission of encouraging our listeners in Christ. While in the spirit of authenticity we may be tempted to share with spontaneity, when it comes to news like this it is so important we take them time to craft a response that impacts for the right reasons and in the right way.”

Keith Stevens  KTIS/Minneapolis – “I knew I had to get something on the air right away. So, in true fashion, I humbly came on after a song, no music beds. Dry.   I simply said “I have some very tough news and it’s hard to share this with you. One of our beloved friends, singer, artist Mandisa, passed away at her home in Nashville. I know this is shocking.” There was silence. I reacted real time with my feelings and led the audience.  I had little time to prep, so I not only shared the news as it came out… but I said to myself before I hit the mic, “here we go…I’m going to just  fly and trust God.” and I emotionally reacted real time as I spoke the words. It was a memorable moment. I welcomed the silence. I let it happen.  Instead of playing a predictable “Mandisa” song, instead, I played  Amazing Grace. (I knew I’d have time for Disa songs in the show.  I thought it would be more universal and powerful to play  Amazing Grace (my chains are gone.)  As the morning unfolded, I shared a few Mandisa songs, with dead air out of the jingle into the song  on purpose.  Powerful. Impactful. Several listeners shared their personal memories. cold. dry. no interruption from the DJ. silence.

For me, she was one of the artists that I had the closest relationship with as a friend. In June of 2020, My interview with her turned unexpectedly into a powerful time of prayer as I shared my heart with her real time about all that was happening in our city and in my heart, and  she prayed powerfully over my life for 15 or 20 minutes the week after the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis. I had chills all over my body.”

Tristi Hendricks KTSY/Boise – “Loss is hard to handle on the air. It doesn’t matter if it’s a personal loss, a listener’s loss, or the loss of one of our own. Mandisa is one of our own. The challenge on air is making the loss we are feeling so deeply relevant to those who don’t know her. Unfortunately, I have had experience this past year talking about loss and grief after loosing my dad so I used some of these strategies to share about Mandisa’s passing. -I told my own connection story and how a bucket list item I checked off was with her. -I talked about American Idol. -I connected it to a loss our own community experienced a few days earlier and how the world has the audacity to keep on spinning. -Just this week, a Mandisa song was requested so I played that audio again. -I talked about community, being better together, and her collaboration with other artists. -I wrapped up the show with an encouragement to trust in Jesus when we are hurting and waiting for answers. He keeps hope alive until we are together again in eternity. 🎶You Keep Hope Alive🎶 -I went into more depth online. That’s where people can scroll by if they don’t want to engage and we can share more of the inside connection we have with her. I have been smiling, laughing, and grieving as I engage in these tributes, photos, and audio from my radio friends’ posts these last few days.”

Josh Jones KKEQ/Grand Forks – “We spoke of her as a good friend that had passed away, which she was. We did get to have her in our area many times. We also told stories about how her music spoke to many people who used them as anthems in their struggles. We also used it as an opportunity to encourage people to get to know Jesus. We don’t know when our last day is. A tough loss for us, but a huge gain for her!”

Rob Dempsey His Radio/Greenville – “This was such a shock to hear the news. First thing we did was confirm through a few sources. On the air we shared the news and our feelings of Mandisa and what she meant to us. For over an hour our listening family recorded messages on our app and texted in which we shared on the air. It was a beautiful moment of hearing the impact Mandisa had on their lives.”

John Bryant WAFJ/Augusta – “I became a Mandisa fan from watching American Idol. The first thing I thought to share after her passing is how Simon Cowell had insulted her on national television. Then, she publicly forgave him on a subsequent episode and boldly shared her faith. My respect for her started then, and I’ve never forgotten the way she taught us all to forgive in that moment.”

Kyle Dowden KWND Springfield – “We caught the initial mention of it online early on, and held it for a moment while we tried to verify the original story. Shortly after 7a, we broke the news that we were learning of Mandisa’s passing, and that we were trying to gather more information. By 8:40a, we were able to confirm with Capitol CMG, and went with that update to listeners. During the morning, we also posted a graphic to our Facebook and Instagram pages, where we received a number of listener comments, all stunned with the announcement.”

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