Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Gospel Music Association‘s January 2017 GMA Industry Update newsletter. With Christian Music Broadcasters (CMB) Nashville’s Momentum Summit just wrapping (READ MORE) and the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) 2017 convention kicking off next week in Orlando, FL, we thought it was timely to reproduce on CCMmagazine.com. Enjoy!

Michelle Younkman, CCM Magazine - image

CMB’s Michelle Younkman

When we asked Christian Music Broadcasters (CMB) Executive Director Michelle Younkman about the growing and reverberating sentiment, “The end of radio is near!” her steadfast response was, “Statistics say that 90% of millennials listened to the radio last week.” So, rather than reinventing the wheel, Younkman thinks the wheel is as strong and viable as it ever was. With that in mind, we wanted to know a little more on how radio stations are approaching, utilizing, and strategizing with new technologies and media beyond the airwaves, and how events like CMB’s Momentum encourages and educates broadcasters across the country.

GMA: What are some of the ways you are encouraging radio stations to embrace the utilization of things like new media, for example, as a conduit for reminding the consumer of what they already know and love—their favorite radio station?
Michelle Younkman:
That’s a great question, because there are [stations] that have done what they’ve done for a long time and seem to be content with the way that they’re operating. What we try to do is challenge everyone with these new ideas and new opportunities for growth. We host forums—Momentum Summits—that around 2,000 typically people attend that are [designed for idea sharing].

Maybe it’s just learning from one station that took a chance on testing a new way of doing something? We have such a strong community of these stations that really speaks for themselves on whether something is successful, or not. Idea sharing is huge for us because we really believe that if something is going to work in Wichita, Kansas, then it just might work in Columbus, Ohio, too. For stations, seeing each other being innovative in their approach on something—maybe it’s a promotion or a new way that they engage with their listeners, etc.—sometimes it just takes one to make that leap for others to be able to see what works. I think that’s the biggest advocate in moving change forward.

GMA: Are you experiencing an overall positive response and resulting change in culture from events like Momentum Summit’s?
MY:
I would say that we’re seeing more of it now than we did ten years ago, absolutely. I think it’s the continual learning process of, “We’re all in this together!” For instance, EMF (Educational Media Foundation)K-LOVE and Air 1’s parent company—began an extensive research project based on millennials (because they realized that by 2020, 50% of the workforce will be millennials). So, we had Alan Mason (president, EMF) come in last year and share a lot of the research that they have already done. That was a great way for everybody to grow so that everyone could walk away and really marinate on [the data] and ask themselves, “Now, what do we do with this?” and, “How are we going to start turning the Titanic without alienating our core demographic?”

That’s where we’ve really seen the idea sharing and the “coming together” growing over the past couple of years—honing in on initiatives, such as focusing on the future of our audience. Getting the opportunity to learn from an organization like EMF, who have the funds to conduct extensive research—that maybe the average station may not be able to afford, but can certainly benefit from—everybody can win and grow.

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About The Author

Kevin Sparkman
Managing Editor

After both on-stage and front-office experience in the Christian recording industry, (including co-founding Exit 3 Entertainment, Inc. and General Manager of hip-hop label Beatmart Recordings), Sparkman returned to Salem in 2014 from a Dir. of Communications position in the United Methodist Church. He became the Managing Editor of CCM Magazine in January 2015.

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