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Rob Wagman “Momentum, Moneyball & The Music Cycle”

The Wind and the Holy Spirit have something in common with Momentum, and that is that you can’t see any of them with your eyes, but only their effect on their surroundings, by the rustling of the leaves, a person whose walk with Jesus has gone to a deeper level, or by that song on the charts, that for some reason, just won’t go away.

Momentum, like the wind and the Spirit have levels, and in their most powerful moments like the winds of hurricanes or tornados that devastate anything in their paths, or the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers where then, 3,000 repented and were saved; the CCM music cycle too has witnessed momentum like a steam roller, when an artist unknown to the format like Zach Williams is propelled to the top of the airplay, sales and streaming charts, and had we tried to stop it, the invisible but powerful attribute would have lifted us from the ground, spun us around and flung us into the neighbor’s yard, where we’d be forced to love our neighbor as ourselves.

While his hit song, Breathe, didn’t rocket up the charts like Zach Williams’ Chainbreaker, Jonny Diaz was the recipient of momentum, as ONCE Breathe got on your playlist, your audience wouldn’t let you get rid of it, and the ‘Little Song That Could,’ became the Number One song of the year at K-LOVE last year, as well as the most played at WAY-FM; two respectable networks.

Great Are You Lord, from Jason Ingram’s One Sonic Society had its first attempt at radio in a well-produced version from the worship group, All Sons and Daughters a few years ago, but if there’s one thing about Momentum that nobody has control over, it’s timing.


And as radio declared Great Are You Lord as a church song only, or NOW, just too old to consider, the few stations that put it on air, got wind of Momentum’s invisible and powerful quality as it quickly went from low familiarity to high recognition in music research becoming a Top 5 tester in the blink of an eye everywhere it had received airplay, which indicates the audience was saying this song was right on time.

Worship music in general has been difficult for radio to discern because there is a passion for worship music among audiences ages 18 – 29, yet CCM gears their focus to an audience 25 and above, and tends to give more credence to the 35+ crowd; missing the influence of the Millennials and their music tastes altogether.

There has never been a more important time for the CCM format to pay attention to its own music cycles, as a format that has been traditionally slow in adding music, slow in advancing music, is beginning to see obvious signs of its own success, with the recent resurgence and late winds to songs like Magnify from We Are Messengers and David Dunn’s I Wanna Go Back or Forgiven from Crowder.  All three have had greater research successes as a recurrent, than when they were in active and current rotation.

What this identifies is a format that has dropped songs too early and/or sent songs to recurrent much earlier than the audience was ready for them to, so as the songs continue to spin in a lighter recurrent rotation, the audience impact peaks, but the song is no longer in a peak rotation, so the station misses opportunities to maximize the songs’ rotations on their own playlists, also missing an opportunity to increase Time Spent Listening by playing the songs the audience likes MOST at that time.  Also lost is the opportunity to best reinforce that song as a part of the stations history, today and for years to come.


Elevation Worship’s first album might have been considered a radio flop, except just as they released their second album, something real began to occur with a song from their first album, O Come To The Altar.  If there’s one thing about Momentum that nobody can control it is timing.

It has to be both incredible and confusing for the members of Elevation Worship who thought radio had given up on their first single, now more than a year after they had attempted to get airplay with it at CCM, to find their song now climbing the chart with a ferocity rarely experienced by any song, new or old, in any format, secular or Christian.

In April of 2016, Michelle Younkman had invited me to share my programming philosophy with the industry at a CMB gathering in Nashville, where I unveiled the concept of a weekly chart that I had created in 2001; a chart that consultant Dom Theodore named the Moneyball Chart after we had experienced the fruit of its results which took us from a 3.0 to a 3.8 in the ratings within months, when we programmed a CBS Top 40 station in New York City from 2009 to 2013.

In a major market like New York, every tenth of a point in ratings can be the result of millions of dollars in increased revenues, so to know that a concept based in simplicity; a weekly chart that factors in everything and anything from local research to sales to streaming to Shazam to airplay on your competitors stations, can capture the invisible quality that you normally can’t see, Momentum, and highlight it, and aid in exposing some of these necessary songs that have shaped and bettered our format; songs that would otherwise be ignored.


The results of the songs exposed in front of the Christian Industry in April 2016 is quite astounding, since all of them have since then gone on to be huge hits.  There were five that were exposed through this process done live from stage on that day.

They were:

  • Jonny Diaz Breathe
  • 7th Time Down God Is On The Move
  • For King & Country Priceless
  • Tobymac Move (Keep Walkin’)
  • One Sonic Society Great Are You Lord

The chart we built that day in Nashville was focused on living in Nashville as if we had just started a CCM station in Nashville so it took into account all of the existing information and airplay from K-Love, The Fish and WAY-FM.  If you’d have interest in seeing this done again, but this September at Momentum in Orlando as if we started a radio station that very day in Central Florida, let your favorite folks at CMB know.  michelle@cmbonline.org

Based on all songs and factors nationwide this week, there are three songs with more momentum than the rest of the songs on the charts, and in order, here are this week’s Top 4 Songs on The Move:

  • Zach Williams Old Churh Choir
  • Elevation Worship O Come To The Altar
  • Unspoken The Cure
  • Citizen Way BulletProof

I am excited that beginning this week on HisAir.Net, the Moneyball National Chart will have a weekly home to be seen, utilized, monitored, critiqued and tested for consistency.  If you have interest in a localized, personalized weekly Moneyball chart specific to your station and market, please email Rob Wagman at StraightPathMandE@gmail.com

Since 1991, Rob Wagman has been known first by his faith, and then by his skills in the secular side of this Industry, and now is known by his versatility, having succeeded in both radio and records in multiple formats from Christian Contemporary, Rock, Alternative, Top 40, Rhythm, Urban and Hot AC, in various roles from On Air to Programming to Marketing and Promotions.

Wagman has worked in all of the Top 3 markets, LA, NYC and Chicago, and returned to LA in 2012 as his entry way into CCM, in PM Drive at KFSH, 95.9 The Fish before becoming the Network PD for WAY-FM.

In 2013, Wagman launched Straight Path Media + Entertainment, a consulting firm which hyper focuses on talent and each station’s greatest need for growth, supplying a la cart programming services for branding, from music strategies, promotional and marketing think tank brain storming, promo and imaging creative, talent coaching and airchecking. Wagman presently coaches 27 air talents, consults 13 stations plus 4 clusters.

Contact Rob Wagman at StraightPathMandE@gmail.com

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