Top 5 Favorite Christian Books Among CCM Listeners – Finney’s Fast 5 || Chuck Finney


The conversation with Christian radio listeners about their preferences is one of importance. We learn so much by asking!  Late in 2020 we asked, “Other than the Bible, what is the best Christian book you’ve ever read?” Here are the Top Five Favorite Christian Books among Christian Radio Listeners:

#1 – The Purpose Driven Life (2002), Rick Warren

#2 (tie) – Left Behind Series (1995), Tim LaHaye

#2 (tie) – Redeeming Love (2005), Francine Rivers

#2 (tie) – The Case for Christ (1998), Lee Strobel

#2 (tie) – The Shack (2007), William P. Young

Our no. 1, The Purpose Driven Life, was a runaway winner with twice the number of votes over our no. 2 books. Is it something about this lockdown year that has made Rick Warren’s classic even bigger than before?

Consider the variety among the books tied at no. 2. Three works of fiction but each with very different and powerful themes. And, in the middle, Lee Strobel’s amazing work of investigative journalism that led him to faith.

In case you’re curious, here are the books that just missed the Top Five list, all worthy titles that scored well, just not quite well enough to make the top titles:

Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, Jack Canfield

The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, John Eldredge, Stasi Eldredge

Crazy Love, Francis Chan, Danae Yankoski

Heaven is for Real, Lynn Vincent

Knowing God, J.I. Packer

The Power of a Praying Wife, Stormie Omartian     


Want more? Take a look back at how listeners ranked their FAVORITE BOOKS last year. 

4 Steps for Christian Radio in 2021: Assess. Consult. Trust. Act. || Dick Whitworth

One of our close friends and a major donor at the radio station where I worked was a gentleman who owned a Dairy Queen franchise across the street from the local high school.  The restaurant was located in a prime spot and it had been there for many years.  In a sense, our friend’s business “owned” the lunch crowd during the school year.

Some say it was inevitable, but regardless, it happened.  A brand new, shiny McDonald’s restaurant came to town directly across from the Dairy Queen and on the same side of the street as the high school.

Many of us assumed that this was the end of the Dairy Queen!  We envisioned the end of brazier treats, Blizzards, and Buster Bars for famished high-schoolers.  And that may have been the case had our friend not taken the next right steps to compete for this lucrative and hungry audience.

As our friend tells the story, he started with an honest assessment of his current facility.  The parking lot needed repair.  The building looked and felt old, and there wasn’t a drive-thru lane.  Until the arrival of the McDonald’s, they had seen no need for one.  Their traditional thinking was that their treats were special and people would happily come inside and wait for them to be made.

So, before the lot was even cleared for the new McDonald’s, our friend began updating his lot and building, and also installed a drive-thru lane.  It was a total makeover just in time for McDonald’s arrival.

Like the Dairy Queen, all of us in media face competition.  New stations appear regularly in our markets, and new platforms, podcasts, and technology arrive almost daily.  I am sure that many people believe that these innovations are designed to “steal” our listeners.  The truth is, the listeners never belonged to us.

Today’s temptation is to try to keep up and be the best at everything, but you and I know that is not possible.  So, before you ride off in all directions at the arrival of the next round of competition, consider these simple, but hard steps.


  • Take some time with your leadership team and do an honest, anonymous if necessary, S.W.O.T. analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Listen carefully and don’t react.
  • Review your staff. John Maxwell famously says, “train them or trade them.”  Continuing education and training are not options in 2021, they are essential.
  • Take a detailed look at your facility and infrastructure. Are they hindering you or the staff from doing a great job?


  • Hire the best media, fundraising, and sales consultants that you can afford. It is amazing what an objective review of your organization can do for you and your team.  And then listen to them.
  • Take a 360 Leadership Assessment Test and share the results with your team. Peter Drucker says, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”   Your organization deserves the best leadership that you can give.
  • Make time and money available for research. Music and market research will help you develop a roadmap to maintaining and growing your audience.  (I am fortunate to work with Art Garza and others in the STAR / Pillar group who respect and appreciate the importance of having qualitative, objective research done for their stations.)  Outside of the occasional market research project, you’re flying blind, at best.


  • What is your purpose for existence? Fred Jacobs calls it your “True North” but said differently, have you wandered from your mission?  Is your mission still relevant?
  • As Christians in media, our mission and ministry assume that there is a connection to the living God that guides us in all life and practice. What is God saying to you about 2021 and beyond?  Have you asked and are you listening?


  • Develop the timeline of the next steps and start the make-over of your station or ministry.
  • Cut out the unproductive and wasteful programs of the past, so that you can invest in the future.
  • Focus, focus, focus. Your job is to keep moving your station or ministry forward utilizing all of the resources that God has allowed you to steward.

There is much more to say on these matters, but it all starts with a “heart-check” of motives.  Are we competing to keep our share of the market or are we motivated to improve to reach more people for Jesus?  This is “to be determined”, right?

And now the rest of the story.  At the appointed time, the McDonald’s arrived in our town with great fanfare and excitement.  And predictably, for a season, it seemed like all of the cars were turning into the shiny new restaurant.  But it didn’t stay that way.  Within a matter of weeks, consumers tired of the long lines and rediscovered the new, improved Dairy Queen.  The renovation and makeover had worked and both businesses flourished.  They still do so to this day.

Catholic priest, James Keller says, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”

God’s best to you and your team in 2021!  May we all shine bright for Him and His glory!  (That’s not a bad prayer for the New Year.)

Dick Whitworth
General Manager, WAKW/Cincinnati

Dick has been in Christian broadcasting for over 40 years having served as an on-air host, Station Manager, Assistant VP for Media, and Network Director.  He is currently the General Manager at WAKW, STAR 93.3 in Cincinnati.

Married to Jayne for over 41 years, they have two children and two grandchildren.  Dick & Jayne currently live in Mason, Ohio.

Great Content Shares 5 Essential Elements || Paul Kaye

What is great content? Great content is something that stops you in your tracks. It piques your interest and draws you in. It moves you from passively listening to actively listening; pulling what is happening on the radio from the background right to the forefront of your thoughts. It has your full attention. It could be happy, sad, funny, infuriating or intriguing as long as it provokes a feeling inside you. You can’t walk away from it. You simply can’t stop listening. You want to know what will happen next. The emotion it evokes within you lasts longer than the initial consumption. If it is great you will find a way to share it with others.

Before we can talk about the 5 essential elements that are apparent in great content there are a couple of fundamentals that need to be present in order for your great content to be heard. First, you need to know who the content is intended for. You need to clearly identify who your target audience is – how they live their lives, what their hopes and fears are, how they view the world. Then apply that understanding to ensure the content you are selecting has appeal to that audience. Great content always starts with relevance. If your content selection is not suitable for the audience you are intending it for, then it has already failed.

Secondly, content is — and will always be — subjective; what appeals to one person may not appeal to another. You need to accept that great content doesn’t have to be seen as great by everyone. The finale of Seinfeld — regarded by many as TV’s greatest sitcom – was watched by 76 million people in a country where 321 million people live. Some of the 245 million people who didn’t watch the show won’t have liked the show. In fact there will be some who thought the show was awful. That’s ok. You can achieve greatness without everyone liking what you do. Great content requires bravery from its creators to showcase their individual passions, beliefs, values and views to the world in spite of who might not like it. To be loved you must be authentic. Not everyone you know likes you. That’s a fact. But they know what you’re about and what you stand for. Trying to create content that pleases everyone will result in a cacophony of blandness. If you want your content to be great you need to be genuine.

Those are the fundamentals you need in order for your content to be heard. Next comes the 5 essential elements that all great content shares. These are the commonalities identified in the execution of all great content. When these 5 elements are present, and the fundamentals we discussed are evident, the content you’re creating has the power to stop you in your tracks.

  • Context. The content is in keeping with the expectation the audience has of your show (and the characters on the show). Think for a moment about “Sex And The City.” The show was about ‘four best friends navigating sex and relationships in New York” and every episode — in fact every scene — lived up to that expectation and worked to enhance that position. You never once tuned in and witnessed the show doing anything else. Great content fits within the context — or storyline — of your show. It supports the central theme and what the audience should/has come to expect from you.
  • Unpredictability. Something happens that the audience didn’t expect. As you listen you are silently wondering “Where is this heading?” “What will happen next?” “How will they get out of this?” The destination is unknown to the audience. This creates a sense of drama that propels the audience to keep listening. Listener’s want to be surprised. Predictability is boring.
  • Storytelling. The content is built around an interesting and intriguing story. There is a clear protagonist and antagonist in the content. The protagonist is faced with a challenge. During the course of the story they must overcome their obstacles before arriving at a resolution. Storytelling is what bonds us together as humans. There’s nothing more powerful.
  • Vulnerability. Having the courage to embrace your imperfections. Letting go of who you think you should be and just being yourself. Being transparent and open with the audience; sharing yourself in a way that deepens the connection with your audience. Saying what you really think without self-editing and second guessing yourself.
  • Different. The content stands out for being extraordinary. Ordinary isn’t compelling but the extra layers you add to what is ordinary can be. This is about how you treat content to make it more impactful. It’s about asking what else we can do with this content to make it bigger. The bigger the impact the more memorable your content will be.

Bad content is obvious to spot; it has no clear target audience, lacks relevance, and is devoid of any authenticity. Average content has a specific audience in mind and relevance but still lacks authenticity. Good content builds upon average content by demonstrating authenticity and often one or two of the 5 essential elements. Great content happens when the content is targeted, has relevance, the hosts are authentic and all 5 of the elements — context, unpredictability, storytelling, vulnerability and difference — are demonstrated in the show.

See how well your show is performing; a useful exercise is to randomly select some of the content pieces from your show and evaluate them against the descriptors above — the 5 essential elements. Challenge yourself to be better at showcasing them in your show. The more you do, the greater your content will become!

Think of the 5 elements as pistons in an engine, you want all of them working in unison to power your content.

Paul Kaye
VP, Product and Talent Development for Rogers in Canada

Link to Original Source 

Why The Hot “New” Thing Is…Nostalgia Marketing || Fred Jacobs

One of the big learnings during the pandemic is just how powerful nostalgia has become, amplified during difficult times.  Hearing your favorites on the radio that remind you of the days when doctors were the only ones wearing facemasks, only introverts socially distanced, and only germophobes washed their hands a dozen times a day is powerful.  But that’s the world in which we live.

Yes, the Christmas music station in town has an obvious advantage during this time of year.  And with emotions being more tender than usual, it promises to be a great December for radio specializing in the sounds of jingle bells and chestnuts roasting.

But that doesn’t mean other radio brands can’t get in the act as well.  That’s because virtually every radio brand has the opportunity to tap into this rich nostalgic motherlode – not just those playing that “safe list” of holiday hits.

Arecent research study of 2,000 Americans from One Poll (and commissioned by Aura Frames) points to the power of nostalgia during these COVID times. In fact, Study Finds reports that nearly four in five respondents say fond memories have served as an emotional lifeline during the pandemic.

It turns out reminiscing makes us feel better about the future.  As psychologist Dr. Krystine Batcho underscores, “Revisiting the past brings back the joy of the good times and the comforting security of being reunited with loved ones. Happy memories remind us of when life was less complicated.”

Brands are getting the message, among them KFC, AT&T, and Budweiser.

Business Insider reports even the packaging makes a difference.  KFC is bring back vintage buckets for their chicken, including the holiday editions that came out during 1966 and 1971 – yes, the same years we experienced Led Zeppelin, the Who, and Janis Joplin.

Photo: KFC

We’re also seeing retired mascots coming back for holiday encore performances, and even classic campaigns like Budweiser’s “Wassup” spots that debuted way back in 1999 – another world ago.

It’s called “nostalgia marketing,” and it is playing an increasing role in the way products and services gain and hold consumer attention during these stressful times.

Again, Dr. Batcho reminds us nostalgia is “grounded in a collective sense of collective loss that we’re all feeling for having suddenly lost so many of the things that we took for granted.”

We saw this in the early days of the pandemic in our COVID research among radio listeners.  Yes, there was the human factor – still a powerful yearning 10 months later – as we continue to hear reminders about not traveling over the holidays.

But respondents also were missing going to concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment activities.

And that’s where radio can play a role – well beyond Christmas music.  Every generation has its own proprietary nostalgia.  The New York Times recently recognized the comeback of the old comfortable pop culture we all have, whether it’s old movies or classic music.  Whether it’s the Spice Girls, Kenny Rogers, ABBA, or Queen, everyone has that “sweet spot.”

They quote another psychologist, Dr. Wing Lee Cheung who explains the phenomenon this way:

“We feel that we have lost footing at the present time, and we gain some comfort by taking a step back and revisiting something that reminds us of a time that we used to feel more connected with other people.  It gives you energy to cope with what is going on now and move forward.”

All the more reason why “All Christmas Music” radio should have a banner year.

But these stations playing non-stop holiday hits don’t have the market cornered on nostalgia, any more than a Classic Rock or Oldies station does.

If nostalgia is, in fact, the game, pretty much any radio station can play it.

And enough with the esteemed psychologists.  Every radio program director worth their salt has witnessed the same thing – the power of music and memories to uplift their audience and their community.

Whether you run a station that plays Country, Hip-Hop, Alternative, or Hot AC, there’s a nostalgic component to your music.

And December would seem the right time to actually let it loose.  In the same way brands are pulling out all the nostalgic stops, radio has a golden opportunity to go into its “bubble” and reap the glow.

But wait – what about the ratings?  This is another reason why 2020 is a weird year.  In smaller metros, the Fall Book diaries are all but mailed in; in PPM markets, it’s down to the Holiday Book (which officially starts earlier than usual – December 3).

And that signals a less pressure-packed environment in which to take a more interesting dive into the library, creating countdowns, year and artist spotlights, faux concerts, and other nuggets that can conjure up those memories of better days, regardless of format or genre.

Airstaff reunions and other uses of virtual meetings can also bring the past back to life with a torrent of great memories of your station.  It’s why we love those “Where are they now?” features.

Giving the audience a voice is another way to connect listeners with their more pleasant memories of concerts and albums gone by.

Whether it’s voting on all-time lists, countdowns, or submitting photos, a bored December audience can be put to work creating content for your end-of-year programming.

Spoken word stations have many of these same opportunities.  Sports radio, in particular, have those classic local athletes, as well as former players from championship teams.  (In Detroit, that’s about all we have these days.)  News and talk stations have their archives, often a primary source for retrospectives and podcasts.

Radio stations that simply provide the “same old” programming this month will miss the opportunity to cash in on “nostalgia marketing,” both for programming and sales.  More and more people will be staying at home, bored, and looking for something to do.  This is where local radio can play an important role.

When the going gets tough, even the tough embrace their pasts.

On the radio.

Fred Jacobs
President & Founder at Jacobs Media

Fred Jacobs founded Jacobs Media in 1983, and quickly became known for the creation of the Classic Rock radio format.

Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.

In 2008, jacapps was launched – a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,300 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created – a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the “connected car” and its impact.

Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media’s commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.

Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018. 

Visit for more great articles!

If You’re in Christian Media – You’re Shaping a Generation || Rick Dunham

A recent study on the consumption of Christian media proved that music is the primary content consumed by adults and teens alike.

And the implications of these findings are more than significant.

The impact of music on younger generations is illustrated in a quote from the book Hashtag: Jesus Revolution written by the CEO of Youth for Christ in Australia.

She says,

“Balladeers are people who write the songs and poems that influence society. In essence, the storytellers. Every generation has had balladeers. Darrow Miller, a leading Christian cultural thinker, teaches about the role of balladeers in society. He explains how music and the arts are upstream from politics…

“It is the role of the balladeers to influence the culture and as a result, the laws of the land will be changed downstream.’”

This writer beautifully expresses the power of music within a society. And specifically, I believe those involved in Christian media have a significant role to play in changing a generation… perhaps even changing our country.

Here’s what we found:

• The younger the generation, the more likely they are to consume Christian music.

This is so encouraging! We have a younger generation that is leaning into and engaging with Christian music like never before.

Think about that for a moment.

If you’re involved in that particular genre, you have an opportunity to affect how a generation thinks about their life, about society. There’s a heaviness to that.

• While the younger generation is likely to tune in to Christian radio, they are much more likely to consume that music online or on mobile.

Now to be clear, this does not suggest we neglect traditional broadcast. They are tuning in there just as much as any other generation.

In fact, I believe our job is to offer up content in every available channel so that they have the maximum opportunity to engage with it.

• Teens and adults tune in to Christian media for inspiration, encouragement, spiritual growth, and entertainment.

If you’re involved in Christian radio in any format, the encouragement would be for you to think about your programming mix. How do you inspire your listeners? How do you encourage them? How do you help them grow spiritually? How are you helping them engage with the content?

• Christian music causes people to feel more strongly about their faith.

Think about it this way: You are actually moving the needle in a person’s progression in their faith as a result of the content you provide.

• Engagement in Christian music should continue to grow over the next five years among notional and engaged followers.

Notional Christians, those somewhat on the edge, would say they are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, but they’re not involved in any kind of worship service on a regular basis nor are they involved in Scripture.

By engaging this group in Christian music content, you’re helping them to grow spiritually and move into a deeper walk with Christ.

• Non-believers anticipate decreasing their conception of Christian music.

However, almost seven percent of this group said they would be increasing their consumption. Not to mention, we’ve all heard the stories of a non-believer tuning in to Christian music and coming to faith in Christ as a result.

This study brought to light the immense opportunity we have in Christian media to reach that notional group with Christian music and as a result, see them transform into engaged followers of Christ.

To hear more about this study and the implications in the world of media, please check out Rick’s Dunham Institute course Consumer Engagement with Christian Media.

Rick Dunham
Founder+CEO, Dunham+Company

Link to Original Source


Of course, no one ever says it that way. But why would advertisers cancel — after reporting positive ad results? And how should advertising professionals respond to tough cancellations?  

First, you have a choice to make. Will you become defensive? Or maintain the relationship?

If you’re an advertiser, consider the possibility that the radio station needs to adjust your ad messaging strategy — not that “the station doesn’t work anymore.” Think before you employ the “suicide option,” saying goodbye to the equity and goodwill you’ve spent good money to build with the listeners. NASA makes mid-course corrections. Advertisers and broadcasters should, too.

Radio ad execs:  Cancellations are rarely personal. If your client needs space and time, give it to them. Chris Lytle says media “professionals get paid to handle frustration.” If you’re not handling frustration, you’re probably not getting paid much. Give yourself a moment to feel — and acknowledge — your feelings. Then, focus on strategy and tactics. Humans are complicated creatures, and you may be on the receiving end of advertiser frustrations that don’t belong to you. Listen … and ask questions.

SEASONAL ADVERTISERS:  Management loves it if you turn your seasonal advertisers into 52-week clients, but they may cancel if you pressure them on this … and never return. Many businesses lose money 10 months a year, and depend on their high season.

NEW MARKETING DIRECTOR:  New people come in, often with little actual training or experience. And they are determined to make their own mark. Often, they feel very insecure deep down, and mask it by seeking control. Stay positive and sincere — and become a resource. Engage other friends you’ve made there.

IMPOSSIBLE ROI STANDARD: “Yes, the ads have generated calls. But we must have a 3-to-1 ROI.” If your ad produces solid calls and clicks, you’re doing your job. It’s OK to gently challenge this. Ask if any other medium is generating a 3-to-1 ROI, and how. 

SERVICE PROBLEMS: “Studies show that 68% of customers leave a business relationship due to a perceived attitude of indifference on the part of the company.”** Did you (or a member of your team) neglect them, giving your competitors an opportunity?

ALSO CONSIDER:  Is their ad content stale, or do you need to change their ad schedule? Finally, clients cancel because they have money problems, and are too embarrassed to tell you.

HERE’S THE POINT:  If you serve clients with your whole heart each day, everything else takes care of itself over time. __________________________________________________________

** Forbes – Aug. 16, 2015. * Bob McCurdy, Radio Ink, August, ‘17.  To unsubscribe, reply “unsubscribe.” Radio plants. The Internet harvests.*