The Ascendance of Christian Radio

An interesting bit of data:  Christian radio gained the most number of stations in 2019.  Ninety-two of those stations were designated simply as “Religion” stations, while another sixty-one were “Contemporary Christian.”  That’s even with “Southern Gospel” and “Black Gospel” losing stations (eleven and five, respectively).

That puts “Religion” in second place, coming in behind the popular “Country” format and beating out my favorite, “News/Talk.”  That’s pretty substantial growth.

Could that upswing be a sign of greater faith?  I’m not so sure.  It does seem heartening that Christian radio is gaining stations; presumably, owners wouldn’t establish religious stations or change existing stations to that format if listeners aren’t there.

According to the data, though, the powerful “News/Talk” format remains dominant, while “Contemporary Christian” remains in fourteenth-place.

Radio remains very strong, even in an age of podcasts, YouTubers, streaming services, and the rest.  My local talk station regularly runs an advertisement claiming that 93% of Americans listen to radio every week.  Inside Radio claims that listeners spent almost half of a day listening every week:

Still, across all demos, radio commands nearly 12 hours (11 hours, 51 minutes) of Americans’ weekly media diets— almost four hours more than a typical work day. The number is exceptionally strong when you compare AM/FM radio with the video streaming market, which lately hogs most all of the headlines when it comes to media.

That makes the rise of more Christian or religious stations promising for spreading the Gospel.  In an age saturated with media options, radio manages to cut through the clutter even now, probably because it’s easier to tune on your car radio than to fuss with auxiliary cords or BlueTooth.  It’s remarkable that a medium popularized in the 1920s still remains dominant today.

Is the rise in Christian radio suggestive of a new Great Awakening?  Or is it just another example of a fractured culture?  I suspect both propositions hold some weight.

Regardless, it’s a promising bit of information.  Here’s hoping that Christian radio will enjoy continued success in reeling in listeners—and bringing them to Christ.


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