Her name is Becky.

You probably know her. She's recently turned 40, but is not quick to admit it. She's a Christian and a devoted wife and mother. She drives a mini-van. Half-melted crayons roll around on the floor as she stops at a light en route to her daughter's Tuesday night soccer practice. She laughs sometimes, chagrined that she is the very "Soccer Mom" they talk about come election time. Becky lives in the suburbs, likes to read, enjoys the women's retreats at church, is struggling to remember algebra so she can help her son with his homework, and is a regular volunteer at the food pantry.

One more thing about Becky, a very important fact for this discussion: she listens to the local Christian music station almost exclusively.

"Becky" is not one person, of course. She is the representative persona of the target audience of almost every Adult Contemporary (AC) Christian radio station in existence today. Station directors expend considerable effort identifying who she is and what she likes. Her tastes affect what's played on radio, and not just the music. She is the target of the ads, the promotions, even the morning show banter. Consequently, she is essential to understanding how Christian radio works.

The fact that Becky has a name is indicative of the dogged desire of stations to focus their efforts on a narrowly defined target, generally described in the industry as the 35-to-44-year-old female demographic. The focus has paid off. Many credit the decision of several stations, including and possibly led by Salem's "Fish" stations, to cater to this particular target audience as responsible for the unprecedented growth in Christian radio over the last decade.

Still, not everyone who listens to Christian radio is a Soccer ...

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

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