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Balestra, Preaching Beyond the Choir

Balestra, Preaching Beyond the Choir - CultureWatch 900KS...

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CultureWatch 900KS ART U IFL By Katie Bal ioe PREACHING BEYOND THE CHOIR Christian radio finds a new audience-outside the church. ABOUT A YEAR ago, John Konrad, the station manager at WGTS 91.9, a "family- friendly" Christian radio station in Takoma Park, Maryland, received a letter from a Jewish listener who said he'd heard a song that particularly resonated with him. "I listened to your station, and I cried,' he wrote. "The idealism and sheer feeling and love in these songs . .. is heartbreaking." Last spring, Asra Nomani, a Muslim writer living in the Washington, D.C. area, programmed "number three" on her car radio to 91.9, her spirits as a stressed sin- gle mother lifted by the lyrics she heard. "No matter how daunting your problems seem, this music gives you hope,' she said. Christian radio stations have increasingly started promoting "family-friendly,' "positive" hits, avoiding more biblical, message-driven programming, and they've 36 sojourners JULY 2009 www.sojo.net
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38 Changing Our Minds Danny Duncan Collum on technology and our brains seen some unexpected consequences: a big gain in non-Christian listeners. The for- mat change also may be due to increasing frustration among Christian listeners who haven't been nourished by what the stations are offering. Chad Hall, a former pastor in Cary, North Carolina, turned to his wife last sum- mer and told her she could reprogram the car radio to nix the Christian stations. On Christianity Today's Web site, he fired off a blog entry: "It's official: I'm tuning out of Christian radio." The music had become too sappy, he said, too upbeat. "I live in a real world that's not always positive and encour- aging, so Christian radio's steady diet of sugary spirituality doesn't promote sustain- ing faith." Hall said the new music doesn't embody Christianity as a whole. "The scope of scrip- tural reference isn't necessarily represented:' he said. "There's a lot of this sort of, 'God's Takoma Park's 91.9 began promoting "fam- ily-friendly" music in 2000, its audience grew from 75,000 listeners a week to about 275,000 in spring 2008. The radio station attributes its growth to new programming that is directed at a larger, faith-oriented seg-
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  • Fall '08
  • Yager
  • Christian music industry, Contemporary worship music, Christian rock, Christian radio, Gospel Music Association, Takoma Park

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Balestra, Preaching Beyond the Choir - CultureWatch 900KS...

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