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Mike Couchman “Radio Heaven on Earth”

Heaven on Earth. It’s more than one of the best pop songs of the 1980’s. (Shot out to Belinda Carlisle…my brief fifth grade crush). Heaven on Earth is something many of us long for and work towards. Even though what we know about Heaven is tiny compared to its true nature.

There will be streets of gold, right? So should we start filling the planet’s potholes with it? Heaven on Earth will mean no more poverty. No more racism. Adios to war. And a radio dial filled with amazing music and talent! Seriously!

If we’re all about making Heaven on Earth happen through our outreach efforts, through our charities, and through our churches, then why not also imagine what a Heavenly radio dial might look and sound like? Just a hunch: given the diverse nature of Heaven’s populace (that whole “people from every tongue and tribe” thing), the current Heavenly choices on the dial won’t be enough.

It’ll be like when you take those long drives in the middle of nowhere and you scan up and down the FM band. In ‘Murica, those long-drive-scans net you Country station after Country station, with an occasional Classic Rock, NPR, or K-Love outlet to break up the monotony. (Obligatory “I love K-Love” mention! Actually, I do. Great product. Great people. Also, I love your station.)

Translate your rural FM scanning experience to a Heaven on Earth radio dial. As things stand today, you’d hear The Fish. WAY-FM. K-Love and/or Air1. Some preaching/teaching. Maybe a few legit local stations playing the same music you already heard on WAY-Fish1-Love. (That’s the fantastic mega-CCM station you get when you stir the big dogs into a Heavenly Christian AC gumbo.) Also on the Heavenly radio dial, if you’re lucky and the reception is just right, a rimshot or translator doing something a little younger or niche’ or adventurous than CCM as we know it.

In other words, if Heaven on Earth (or us in Heaven a billion miles from Earth) were to happen now, your radio choices would be limited to a dozen varieties of vanilla. By the way, that’s no dis to vanilla or to CCM/Christian AC. Vanilla is my favorite ice cream flavor (well, French Vanilla) and I’ve been a CCM fan since shortly after Belinda Carlisle captured my heart for a minute. Vanilla goes well with lots of things and makes billions happy, but it’s not everyone’s favorite flavor.

So why not start offering Earth more flavors NOW? Why must our planet’s radio dials have every evil flavor of entertainment imaginable but only a few flavors of Heaven? You’re already hard at work bringing Heaven to other parts of the planet. Why wait to bring it to more ears in your market?

If I’ve struck a chord and you’re raring to go, get to it! You can stop reading now. I was hoping to end it here, but if you’re still reading, maybe it’s because you need more convincing. Or you haven’t finished eating your lunch at your desk yet and this is mildly entertaining for you.

Obviously, the reason most hesitate to take that next step is numbers. Mainly revenue, and possibly ratings. Christian AC is one of the very few somewhat “safe” options when it comes to attracting operational dollars and gathering large audiences. And I get it! Who doesn’t want safety and certainty?

The problem with that is I can’t find many places in the Bible, or in modern life, where God calls us to do the safe, certain, predictable things. And our definition of success is vastly different than His. We measure by numbers; He measures by faithfulness. Your next radio venture may NEVER be “profitable” or even break even. Do churches ask their outreach ministries or youth groups to be self-sustaining? Or, is it more likely most churches have youth groups and do outreaches because God put it on somebody’s heart? Ministry isn’t business. It’s, well, ministry.

Are we radio stewards being as faithful and bold in our faith as we can with the resources and properties He’s entrusted to us? Or are we the guy in the parable of the talents who hedges his bets and hides his master’s cash underground?

Don’t take this as encouragement to launch a station that will appeal to 0.0000185% of your market. Do take it as a nudge to consider what role you can play in transforming your local share of the radio dial into something that reflects Heaven instead of hell. And when you do it, make it happen with a Colossians 3:23 level of excellence. Thank you for your time. And perhaps for your ice cream.

Mike Couchman is the Program Director at KLJY/St Louis and BOOST 101.9 in St. Louis.  He also does  freelance work with the SOS Radio Network based in Las Vegas, Solution FM/Bangor, Maine, and Smile-FM in Michigan. Prior to all this he was part of many mainstream Top 40, Country, and Christian stations in Denver, Detroit, and most of Michigan. Reach Mike at mikec@boost1019.com… 

5 thoughts on “Mike Couchman “Radio Heaven on Earth”

    • Pot stirrer 😉

  • Well said, but the music has to be made before it’s played. Are the labels doing enough to help sustain it? If not why not. I live in Dallas and the music on Air1, KLTY, WAY and KCBI ALL sounds the same. And if I had to put a label on it, it sounds Triple A,. If you listen close you would almost think the same guy is singing every song.

    I miss the POP days of Christian music….The Plus One groups, Cindy Morgan pop sound…. Am I crazy or is that just how it is these days….Is the money in a Triple A sound? Who knows maybe I’m just an ol geezer….

    Tim Marx

    • The music IS there. Problem is, our industry is too used to being spoon-fed whatever the labels send. PD’s and MD’s gotta remember how to HUNT again. The music for Christian CHR (if that’s what you wanna call the hot/young side of things) is better now than it has been in my entire career. But that’s only because enough of us chase it down proactively.

    • I don’t think it’s AAA (that’s a whole other bag!), but rather a mix of AC combined with modern praise and worship. That’s more or less the “Christian Radio” sound now from Air1 to The Fish to local O&Os, regardless of how they market themselves.

      And Mike is 100% correct, the music is not only there for CHR/pop, it’s really gotten good. It’s just not what’s being driven by the labels — who are mostly going after the Christian Radio sound. There’s a whole world of faith music (how I like to term it) that’s largely ignored by radio.

      For example — And I’ll scream this name until I’m hoarse — but Liz Vice ought to be on Christian Radio, or at the very least in their knowledge base. She gives her bold Christian testimony on NPR, gets noticed on famous secular “hipster” radio stations, and seems to be an unknown in the one place you’d think she’d find a home. Frankly, that’s a problem. Check out “Empty Me Out” on YouTube to see what you’re missing.


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