HOW TO ADDRESS THE UKRAINE WAR ON CHRISTIAN RADIO
Dealing with a topic as negative as a war on a radio station is tricky. We know that our audiences like to hear bright, optimistic voices on the station. But it’s during the tough times that Christian stations stand apart hugely. We in Christian radio can offer answers and hope at this time when other stations really can’t. Balance is the key. War is depressing. But ignoring it because you want to be “positive” is a big mistake and a missed opportunity.
There are several areas to hit on that will cover most of your bases: Bible verses of hope, prayer, giving to refugees, allowing announcers to personalize their thoughts for their audiences. First, there are quite a few bible verses that can give your audience a feeling of hope to counteract the hopeless feeling that your audience has. I will provide one verse for a starter: Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth is transformed
and the mountains are toppled
into the depths of the seas,
though their waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake in the surge.
Also, prayer is, of course, a given for Christian radio. So DO encourage your audience to pray. BUT your audience will also want to do something. They feel helpless watching a peaceful country taken over by an enormous bully country. And there is nothing they can do. Give them vehicles to be able to DO something. There have been hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Ukraine. Direct them to organizations that are on the ground helping the refugees. (Two that I recommend are Samaritan’s Purse and Convoy of Hope.)
Encourage your announcers to be themselves and be honest, sharing their viewpoints. How are they handling it with their kids? How are their churches addressing it? That freedom is a crucial way to show respect to your announcers, and it will be something your audience can relate to. It’s common for stations to say, “we avoid politics at this station.” I agree with that. But sometimes that edict is spread so broadly that it keeps announcers from being real, lest they get in trouble for being perceived as “political.” Again, let them be themselves.
There is also a sudden renewed interest in what the Bible says about wars and the end times. Now, I think we can all agree that it would be a mistake to dive right in and start a debate about Russia and Gog and Magog (from Ezekiel 38). Yeah, you might stay away from that. BUT you can encourage your audience to explore end times topics themselves. After all, end times prophecy is a significant part of the entire Bible.
Finally, make sure your website reflects exactly what is being said on the air. (Especially the links for donating toward helping Ukrainian Refugees)
With the war in Ukraine, the most unsettling part is that nobody knows where this will end. We all want Ukraine to resist and survive. But we don’t know if that will happen. We don’t know if Russia will go on to other countries. Our God is Lord of the unknown. Therefore let’s let our Christian Radio audiences know that there is a reason for bold hope in the face of this war with so many unknowns. That is a hope that secular stations cannot offer. It’s once again a time for Christian Radio to shine.
Rick McConnell is a 43-year radio veteran, syndicated radio host, programming/imaging consultant and owner of Monumental Studios Denver. Website: https://www.monumentalstudiosdenver.com