Religious radio remains on the cutting edge of the broadcasting industry. According to recent reporting, faith-driven radio formats––Contemporary Christian and Religion—dominate the top ten genres across the country and lead other formats in growth trends.
The Religion format, which encompasses teaching and talk, represents the third greatest number of stations in the country, with Contemporary Christian, which includes worship and other Christian music, ranked fourth.
The report’s findings indicated that the Contemporary Christian format led growth trends, adding 21 stations year-over-year and six from December 2022 to January 2023. Most of these new stations are owned and operated by Educational Media Foundation (EMF).
“People are hungry for hope, and good news, and I believe the count of religious format stations reflects that. There is enough fear, division, tragedy, and chaos in the world—we see that audiences want a place to go where they can be encouraged and where their stress level is reduced, not escalated,” said EMF chief content officer, Jim Houser. “Teaching, CCM or worship, music and messages that point people to Jesus help us see past our current problems and focus on God’s promises.”
Houser added, “People are seeking out truth and positivity, and the religious format delivers.”
Christian radio has a “positive” impact on the American family, and this influence “continues to be strong,” commented Phil Boyce, Senior Vice President of Salem Media Group for all Spoken Word Formats.
“The Christian Teach and Talk format is amazingly stable and not subject to the blowing winds of other formats. It’s nice to see it solid as a rock,” said Boyce. “The Contemporary Christian format continues to grow as new artists join the fold, and its positive influence on the family continues to be strong.”
Boyce also noted that certain “cyclical” formats go through stronger and more subdued seasons.
“It is not surprising that NewsTalk took a bit of a hit, post-mid-term election. This is a cyclical format, and those numbers will probably come back as we get into the 2024 Presidential election cycle,” said Boyce.
Rich Bott, CEO of Bott Radio Network, said it was reassuring to see Christian broadcasting well received by the public.
“In the midst of the shifting sand of today’s cultural/moral decline, people are looking to the solid rock of God’s Word for answers and direction,” said Bott. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. [Bott Radio Network is] thankful to serve the Lord with so many other National Religious Broadcasters members, as together we help people grow in the Lord, and apply their faith in their daily lives by transmitting quality Bible teaching, Christian news, and information.”
Donald Crawford, president of Crawford Broadcasting Company, emphasized that the impact of Christian radio rests on its fidelity to the word of God.
“If a Christian format, or for that matter any programming, no matter how long or what type, is true to the Bible, passionate about Jesus Christ, not ashamed of His gospel, preaches the true doctrines of salvation by grace, and by faith in Jesus Christ, if you build that spiritual foundation––they will come,” said Crawford.
“The real gospel is a magnet, drawing people to Jesus Christ and to His Word,” Crawford added.
Not only are the growth trends rising, but so is the quality of content, according to Nashville-area general manager for Salem Media Group, Kevin Anderson.
“If we truly believe that a rising tide lifts all boats in business, we must trust that this also applies to the Kingdom Work that occurs through these stations,” said Anderson. “This growth is truly good for all, and I am convinced that we have not seen the top. In times of challenge, individuals seek the hope that is found in the Message, and those who seek hope will find it in these formats. The quality of the music is the best it has ever been. The content standard is at the highest level. I am proud to be a part of a company that is at the forefront of this growth.”