by Terry Wilhite
Recent research has validated what a lot of us have known for a long time: One of the top ways to draw people into your worship service is through a broadcast ministry. In fact, the chances are far greater that you’ll reach more people through an effective broadcast ministry than you will inside the walls of your house of worship. But how do you create an effective, professionally-sounding radio broadcast?
Advertising pros still rely on the 30-, 60-, and even 10- and 15-second commercial to convince us to buy what they’re selling. Appropriately done radio commercials can help pack your auditorium for worship, give people a lift to make it through their day, and point listeners to Jesus. Here are my top tips for ministry “commercials.”
• Don’t lead with Scripture or sound “preachy,” but lead with an interesting quote, some unusual fact, something that hits home for the listener, something about his boss, his spouse, their kids, or most everyone’s favorite topic, money. Your goal is to stop the listener in his tracks because your spot will be one of many. Your personality through the listeners’ speakers must be winsome.
• Consider telling a short story in a fashion similar to Paul Harvey’s “Rest of the Story” that saves the punch line until the end.
• End with a stinger that reveals the answer and provides a spiritual connection. Conclude with a “hmmm,” or a “wow”! A pastor in a neighboring town calls his 60-second radio spot, “Something to Think About.” It starts with an ear catcher, builds with a short story, and ends with a stinger that still isn’t “preachy,” but leaves the listener saying, “Wow, never thought of it like that before. I’d like to hear more from this guy!” He always ends his spot, “And that, my friends, is something to think about.” How ever you conclude, don’t forget to tell who and where you are: “I’m John Doe, Your Church Name, inviting you to worship with us Sundays at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 611 King Street, Your Town.”
• I highly recommend you run your spot at the same time every day, during the “drive time” in your area. Your goal is to build a relationship with your listeners.
Whether you’re building Fords or delivering the Good News, quality is Job #1. Your local radio station will be glad to help you record your spots, but it is possible for you to easily record your own commercials using a most unlikely tool: your computer! With a quality microphone (probably not the one you buy at the local electronics store), audio recording software such as “PowerTracks Pro” (see www.pgmusic.com, 1-800-268-6272) that sells for around $50 or “Cool Edit Pro” (www.cooleditpro.com, 1-888-941-7100) that sells for around $250, you can turn your computer into a digital recorder that captures CD quality sound.
How? By hooking up a microphone into the input of your computer’s soundcard, using the software to record, just as you would with a tape recorder (most of the software recorders are designed to look like the old fashioned tape recorders), with a little patience you can create quality recordings. (If you need more directions, see my video tape, “M & Ms (music and multimedia) in a Box” for detailed directions.)
Once you have the recording, the .wav (digital audio) file can then be “burned,” (recorded) onto a CD using software such as “Easy CD Creator” on a PC or “Toast” on a Mac (See www.roxio.com, 800-518-2432). Once you’ve recorded your commercials digitally, the radio station is then able to transfer what’s on your CD into the computer that plays the commercials at the station. This way, the recording never leaves its digital, pristine state.
What about cassette tape and reel to reel? They’re gone! Some radio stations may accept them, but the “hiss” they produce is unacceptable, and your spot needs to sound as good as the best agency-produced spot. You’re ability to attract people is as dependent on the quality of your recording as it is by what you say.
Finally, your radio broadcast should be so appealing that it draws people to your house of worship and ultimately leads people to Jesus Christ. In our bumper-sticker day and age, it will be the short commercial-type messages that draw the most people to your house of worship and to the Lord. And that my friend, is something to think about!
Terry Wilhite is a communications, multimedia, and music specialist. See his Website, www.terrywilhite.com for resources, and e-mail him with your questions and article ideas that you’d like to see covered here this year.