Guest / Limited Access /

Leave it up to the outspoken Derek Webb to sum up the complicated politics of Christian radio—what songs get played, and for what audience—in a one-punch sentence:

"The gospel," says Webb, "has no target demographic."

The only-slightly-less outspoken Shaun Groves takes his own swing at Christian radio, especially when it comes to commonly used fundraising tactics:

"The bulk of the listeners are Christians," says Groves, "and this is music by Christians and for Christians. The trouble is, Christian radio tells stories to make you feel like they're evangelistic, but they're not. Say what you are. Don't lie to me and tell me I'm saving teenagers."

Strong words. But then, say the words "Christian radio" to anybody who loves music—artists, fans, and even those in the radio business—and you're likely to encounter a strong opinion on the subject.

Depending on who you ask, Christian radio is either better than it has ever been, or it has sunk into a dull morass of sameness. Opinions range as wide as the unprecedented reach of stations and signals across the country. More listeners than ever are tuning in, and Christian radio listeners in particular are among the most loyal in the industry.

Curiously, though, few of those listeners understand how Christian radio works, how it has gotten to its current state, and where it's headed in the future. So we decided to look into it—deeply. This is the first of a four-part series on Christian radio, where we'll examine everything from an overview (Part 1) to its "target demographic" (Part 2), from how its songs are chosen (Part 3) to what the future looks like (Part 4).

So pull up a chair, tune in—for this and the next three weeks—and listen up . . .

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueMeet the Man Behind the Bono and Eugene Peterson Conversation
Subscriber Access Only
Meet the Man Behind the Bono and Eugene Peterson Conversation
If church leaders and artists have been estranged in western culture, then David Taylor is helping to lead them into a more blissful union.
Current IssueGleanings: June 2016
Subscriber Access Only Gleanings: June 2016
Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our June issue).
TrendingNicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t.
Editor's PickLetters with the Mosque Next Door
Letters with the Mosque Next Door
How a budding friendship between a pastor and an imam brought a community together.
Christianity Today
What's Up with Radio?
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.