Business Plan for
KGLJ radio station at Greater Life Church
Greater Life Church
Pastor Bill Killion
Rev. 1 -
This is to my Father’s glory,
that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:8 tells us to bear fruit to Glorify the father. Bearing fruit – doing works of love – is the tangible sign of the discipleship that brings glory to our Father. There is no higher calling. This executive summary describes a ministry that can compliment and instigate those acts of love to which Greater Life Church is dedicated.
This plan discusses the reasons for and the process of establishment of a Low Power FM (LPFM) radio station at Greater Life Church. Our intention is to establish a station that focuses on local issues and life in a manner that will bring The Good News to the generally young families and individuals of Elko and Spring Creek. As Disciples of Christ we can use the power of new media as a way to deliver an old message of Truth. This will be radio mostly for non-Christians that will engage, involve and invite them to accept and participate in the greatest adventure for a greater life in Jesus.
This is an essential ministry because the Christian
church in America
is in dire circumstances. Mainline
Christian denominations have been losing 3% of their membership a year for 40
years. They stand at less than 50% of
what they had just in the previous generation.
The Elko Spring Creek area is in even worse condition. Christian Church participation Nationally
stands at only 13%. In
Since all Christians would agree that the problem is not in the message of love and Salvation contained in the Bible clearly something else is amiss. Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” Our message is eternal but the medium has changed drastically and that has an impact on the message. We still mostly depend on the old paradigm of an evangelical Sunday church service. That is not reaching new generations born after simple tradition ceased to be effective. This should come as no surprise since in our contemporary world of electronic social media - Facebook, Twitter, radio and the Internet, the church has generally not kept up in communicating with them using means they relate to.
Radio communication is one way we can begin to reconnect with these post tradition generations. But not just any radio. Elko is filled with Christian radio stations. But given the statistics of failure at evangelism we are suffering here even they are having very limited success. Our proposed station will be a local station that integrates as much modern social media, music and local content relevant to our young demographic in Elko County. Ours will be a low wattage station that is inexpensive to create and operate. We currently are streaming online and will, by the 2nd quarter of 2014, have the licensing and equipment installed to begin On Air FM radio broadcasting. This will have the greatest possible effect and take us outside the walls of our church to bring the Great News of a Great God to the people of the Great Basin.
Needs and Solutions
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Where we are and how we got here
All the gospels end in The Great Commission and are followed by The Acts of the Apostles that details the story of how the first Christians went about the work of bringing that Great Commission to pass. Our instructions and the privilege it bestows are clear. But while the progression of Go, Baptize and Teach is clear, the trials and struggles of the apostles as chronicled in Acts shows that the exact method of Christian evangelism is not so simple. Factors like culture, resources and technology determine the approach one uses to present the The Good News. And culture, resources and technology change over time.
The canon of the Bible was developed over a period of centuries beginning with oral histories, through written records of Old Covenant times, to the writings of the Apostles and others in new Covenant times. These were canonized into a Bible of God’s Holy Word. This saw very limited hand transcribed translations by a few monks for hundreds of years. Today we have scores of translations and commentaries printed in such numbers they make it by far the most reproduced book in man’s history. But today even books are slowly being replaced by an electronic media that will someday make hard copy books obsolete. As evidence of this the Encyclopedia Britannica ceased publication in 2013. Their stated reason for this change? Wikipedia - the ultimate in networked electronic collaboration.
"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. McLuhan's point is that the means of communication legitimize in the mind of the listener that which is communicated. Even the best made case for Christ will have difficulties being heard if the medium we use to make it is so dated those on the receiving end conclude the message is as irrelevant as the medium. They in a very real sense don't even hear it. The medium of today is electronic; radio, television, smart phones, computers, ipads, the internet, Facebook, texting, email, photos and video. These are how modern man communicates. This is what he listens to in the broadest sense of "listen".
At odds with this is the persistent belief that the proper way to Evangelize and present the gospel is in a church, at a worship service, by a Pastor, on a Sunday. It’s true enough that this is Christian worship and is not only proper but vital to a Christian life - but is it Evangelism? More to the point, is it effective? Does it lead people to Christ? Does it save people from continuing down their path to eternal damnation? Any fair look at the statistics of the current success of traditional Sunday-go-to-church evangelism in America says no. Indeed it screams no. Locally we have less than 6% of the population going to church. And these are almost all Christians already. Nationally churches have been bleeding a straight line steady 3% of their membership every year for 40 years. At those rates the Christian church will be dead in America in 25 years.
As Bob Dylan said, “And the first one now, Will later be last, For the times they are a-changin'” Traditional Sunday worship evangelism that was “first” and worked for decades seldom gets the result of making disciples today. One look at our world says, yes, the times they are indeed changing, and not in a good way. Clearly something is amiss. Something different must be done because whatever we are all doing is not working. They aren’t coming.
Radio as an option
In the search for the most relevant medium to deliver The Good News there are some considerations that must be taken. On the cautious end one should note that while the tech penetration into items like reading the Bible online is certainly an efficient way to deliver the message, its value is limited since it still is reading a book. Reading books is itself receding as a common habit and depending on people to read their way to Salvation is getting less likely every day. On the other end, just because it’s techie does not mean it will succeed. MySpace was the ultimate social media powerhouse just a couple years ago and now it has been completely replaced by Facebook.
The lesson here is that a balance between old school and cutting edge just may be the best place to operate. In the opinion of many including advertisers whose survival depends on knowing what works, radio hits that spot. Radio has been in existence for a hundred years. Everyone has one in any location in which they are likely to be – car, home, and work. It is extremely inexpensive to purchase the equipment needed to use radio and very undemanding to use. It is a medium that lends itself to casual use since no visual or interactive inputs are required. It can now also be broadcast over that ultimate new technology, the Internet, with the same equipment used to perform terrestrial broadcasts. Finally, it still has enough freshness to impact that most hard to reach demographic, the young. In view of the need to move to electronic methods of dissemination the creation of a radio station is an answer. Certainly not the only answer but an answer.
Low Power FM Radio
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and
through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him”
Low Power FM Radio History
In 2000 in response to citizen demands for low cost public access to the airwaves the U.S. Legislature passed the Radio Broadcast Preservation Act of 2000. This permitted the FCC to begin licensing of Low Power (less than 10 watts) FM radio stations which they began doing in 2001. Almost immediately the commercial broadcast industry brought suit to stop this claiming it had the potential to physically interfere with their broadcasts. Some 450 licenses were issued before the FCC declared a moratorium on new licenses till the suits were settled.
In late 2012 compromises were reached and the Legislature reauthorized issuing licenses. Government being government this has drug out into 2014 but as of January 2014 LPFM radio applications (including ours) have been accepted and the necessary permits to begin construction will likely be issued in late January 2014. After the completion and testing of the broadcast equipment has been completed the FCC will inspect our station and issue us our final license to operate.
Our radio station is being constructed and operated in two phases. As a beginning we have constructed a studio and equipped it with the electronics to begin over the internet streaming broadcasting. Greater Life Church has been streaming for about one year now and this system is running efficiently. After acquiring our LPFM license this exact equipment will be used and only needs to be expanded with a transmitter and antenna to begin over the air broadcasting.
Our station will be a 100 watt maximum power station. At that wattage and with the proper antenna we will cover all of Elko and hopefully some of Spring Creek. The station can not reach beyond these areas except through internet reception or by buying onto translator space in other communities.
Location and basic structure
Radio stations consist of three basic components, an audio source originating from a studio, a transmitter and an antenna. As with any radio station one must have a studio. Further requirements by the FCC demand that any studio be a lockable separate space. The space requirements are minimal – the audio processing and transmission end of a radio station can fit on a single small table. Our studio currently operates in our Sanctuary in an 8'x16' space. While this might seem small it has proven to be entirely adequate for our needs. The signals from this studio will be fed to a transmitter and then processed through a link (usually a small dish transmitter) and beamed to our antenna on one of the local towers in our area to then be transmitted over the air to people’s radios.
Management and Staffing
Much of the staffing needs, like the equipment needs, are dependant upon what level of broadcast penetration one wants and can afford. Our over the air station is only required by the FCC to broadcast a minimum of 36 hours per week. Since even this could all be, for lack of a better term, canned purchased programs, the station could theoretically be operated by one person (required by the FCC) termed the Chief Operator. This person would show up occasionally to make certain the equipment was operating properly and keeps the station in compliance with FCC regulations as to minimum broadcast times, licensing requirements, Emergency Alert System and any programming. In effect this would simply operate as a translator for other broadcasting.
This is not suggested as a desirable option worth the investment, it is just to show that there is no real lower boundary to how minimal a staff one could get by on if the need arose.
Full Operating staff
For the station to be successful in any meaningful way as a local radio station adequate staffing would be needed to could keep equipment maintained, plan programming and present an on the air presence. Moving up from a re-broadcast model to more local live station would clearly require more staff. At a minimum we would need at least a General Manager, one Engineer (person knowledgeable in the mechanics of the station), a Program Manager, a Board operator (disc jockey in common parlance), a Production Director and someone to keep the books. Any of these positions can be filled by the same person.
Staffing as Evangelism
In addition to the basic staff needed to operate our station we will not only be open to, but will promote and use the attractiveness of and involvement in this ministry as itself an evangelical tool. Greater Life Church will have no requirements that staff people be members of or attend our church. Certainly if they ultimately did we would be thrilled but from a policy viewpoint and a ministry viewpoint being open to the movement of the Lord in bringing people to us will not be something we will try to second guess.
Programming radio stations has been a necessary and fundamental part of their operation since the invention of radio. As such it really is not necessary to re-invent any wheels to get a station that works in a manner that successfully presents the Word. In general, to effectively be a ministry tool of Greater Life Church requires programming consisting of all audio material such as Church services, music shows, special interest programs, interviews and live programming.
Studies and experience have shown that the best (most successful at engaging the community and presenting The Word) stations are those that have as much LOCAL programming as they can possibly produce. Our broadcast engineer when asked about partnering with an out of town station was adamant in his words that, “Your station should be as unique to you and to Elko as possible.”
To that end as much of our programming as possible will be developed around local events and local interests that directly relate to the lives of the local population. It will also be taken from other like minded churches and organizations from our area. It can also be broadcast live from community events using equipment no more complicated than a microphone hooked to a smart phone with an interface. Again, it is recognized that this live local programming will be limited at first as personnel will be limited at first. This is a planned intention not an immediate requirement.
Radio programming is done around a weekly schedule with programs announced and advertised ahead of time or consistently scheduled for the same time each day, such as live broadcasting of our Sunday worship service. Generally music is most easily obtained from commercial music distributors such as TM Century. For a specific fee per song they will deliver any number of songs from their 20 million song catalog. While costing a great deal considering the number of songs we need to establish our basic music library, once established all that need be done then is too keep things updated.
In addition we will do locally produced and DJ'd music shows. This is a labor intensive undertaking so the quantity of these shows will be limited at first. Also our church facility already has the capability to produce and broadcast live sound. Inviting local music groups - bands, choirs, soloists is something that will certainly be part of our programming schedule.
A wide variety of other pre-recorded Christian and non-Christian programming is also available. These include music and talk radio from easily available sources. The costs for this ranges from paid monthly satellite feeds to free internet based feeds to organizations such as Focus on the Family who under some circumstances would pay us to run their programs. Ultimately something is available that will keep our station on the air 24/7 for whatever budget we decide upon right down to no cost at all if necessary.
Finally, in order to take advantage of all the interconnection and networking of today’s electronic landscape our radio station will have tight integration with social networking mediums like Twitter and Facebook.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.” John4:33-36
The Elko/Spring Creek area currently has a population of approximately 30,000 people - 2/3 of the population of Elko County. Median age is a *very* young 31 years. The National average is 37. It can’t be stressed enough just how young this makes the population of this area. To even be 3-4 years under the National average is significant. 6 under is overwhelmingly young.
Average income is $60,000 which is well above National or
Or is it? Elko religious breakdown is 41% Catholic, 31% Mormon, 10% Southern Baptist and 14% “other”. But breakdowns don’t really tell the story. The story is reflected in two things. First, the number of what we would consider likeminded evangelical Christian churches is very low. In consideration of the fact that we should not care who brings people to Christ as long as they get there, these numbers do not bode well for Christian Evangelism. If we fail to pursue the Great Commission there is very little out there to pick up the slack.
Secondly, when one looks at all the non-Mormon churches in Elko, the attendance at them is underwhelming to say the least. Even with 31 churches in Elko not more than 1500 (6%) people consistently attend Christian churches. Spring Creek is even worse. Only four churches are located in Spring Creek and their combined membership only amounts to 2½ % of that areas population.
While attendance at church does not necessarily equate to evangelism it is an excellent metric by which to measure the penetration of the Christian life in our area. This is because in a remote area like ours if the overall membership of all Christian Churches is growing faster then the population then this suggests people are moving from being non-Christian to Christian - successful evangelism. Unfortunately this is not the case as these membership numbers have not changed in decades. NOT the percentages, the absolute numbers have not changed. This means evangelistic efforts in our area are not even keeping up - we are losing ground. The best that can be said about this situation is that our area is not in short supply of opportunities for evangelism.
No commentary on the demographics of the Elko area would be complete without mention of the cultural and political elements at play in this area. The West has a long history of what most term proud self-reliance. This is rooted in a philosophy that says the first principal of life is freedom. This is at odds with what most Christians see as a responsibility to have their lives first informed by a belief in God and Salvation through Christ. The Christian perspective views man as fallen and sinful, not perfectible through his own efforts as fervent attachment to self-reliance preaches. The Freedom vs. Virtue, Libertarian vs. Conservative, and Humanist vs. Christian argument has raged for centuries and, if anything, is more on the front page now more than ever. Breaking through this to bring Truth to the lost in our area will be a very difficult task and will require enormous prayerful effort and perseverance. As difficult as it will we will succeed if we, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” Phil 2:14-15
Besides the nine commercial radio stations broadcast in Elko we also receive 3 Christian stations by radio translator. Certainly a fair question to anyone suggesting establishing another Christian radio presence in Elko would be, “we already have three, why spend the time and effort on a fourth.” Excellent question. And the answer to that is crucial to understanding what we want to be as a Christian radio station.
The key is in seeing the nature of Christian broadcasting and why to a large extent it mostly fails as an evangelical tool. It should come as no surprise that for the most part Christian stations broadcast Christian music, Christian sermons, Christian talk shows and Christian educational programs. They all do a fine job of this. Good stuff for Christians. And even a few come to Jesus through this approach. But if this list sounds familiar that’s because it is the same list of activities that every Christian Church in America offers every Sunday – those same churches discussed previously that are failing to significantly bring the population of Elko to Christ. So as Dr. Phil likes to say, “How’s that working for you?” The short answer is great, for Christians. As it pertains to evangelism – not so much.
And unfortunately the news for Christian radio in Elko is not even that good because all Christian radio in Elko is IN Elko but not OF Elko. What none of the Christian stations available in Elko are able to provide is the one thing that local churches and KGLJ local radio will provide – intimacy through local content. In the realm of GO and make disciples, radio with no intimate knowledge, interaction or personal presence is like Jesus without apostles. When Jesus told them, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) He said it not because He had no power to do such Himself. He said it because he wanted the ultimate devotion and fulfillment of the Christian life to be to help bring others back to God and save them from hellfire through Himself. That was the Great Commission. He meant that they were to *personally* set about evangelizing the world in an upfront and intimate way. For all its blessings, the impact of Christian radio with no direct interaction is very limited because it is very impersonal. We, on the other hand won't be. That is our blessing. That is the reason for a KGLJ."
As addressed here, marketing refers to the ways in which we can establish and increase a listening audience for our radio station. Conversely, marketing, in our case, does not extend to the “selling” of Jesus. This is because there are major limitations to any business modeling as it relates to God’s economy. For one, it would require “selling” something people either don’t know they need or are completely hostile too. Secondly, the consequences of a failure on our part are suffered by the customer, not us, if we fail to make the sale. Third, selling people a belief is a completely different reality than selling a physical product. Finally, the acceptance of the sinner of Salvation through Jesus (the “sale” in the crassest business sense) is scripturally an act of a gracious God, not through anything we or the sinner does. In light of these realities marketing as referenced here refers to the marketing of our radio station, not marketing in the sense of selling people The Good News.
In the realm of the physical process of selling people on our station, our marketing will take much of the low cost methods of Jay Conrad Levinson’s classic, “Guerrilla Marketing”. Guerrilla Marketing has established itself over the last twenty yeas as THE reference tool for small business startup marketing. Through a varied combination of mailings, brochures, posters and most importantly the modern power of social media, we can, on a shoestring budget, successfully market our station.
Estimated startup costs
Engineering and feasibility
KaraTek International has done the preliminary studies and equipment engineering for KGLJ. The studio is bought and paid for and is currently installed and operating online. The second phase of purchasing and installing the terrestrial broadcast hardware and studio hardware improvement is currently underway
Phase 2 - over the air broadcasting capital costs.
KaraTek tells us that the addition equipment for terrestrial broadcasting will push the final cost to around $20 thousand dollars. We have already invested approximately $9,000 in our studi0 and streaming equipment. They have given us a figure of approximately another $9,000 to complete the phase 2 purchase and installation of FM broadcast equipment. With a need for remote broadcasting equipment, hybrid telephone system and music production/DJ equipment we need a total of $12,000 to complete the station. Finally with music library costs, copyright origination coverage and other miscellaneous the final figure is approximately $15,000 needed to complete our station. Through a single large donation and the investment by the church of approximately $9,000 of existing funds we have that $15,000 in hand and ready to go.
Estimated Operational costs
As has been noted elsewhere the existing steaming studio can at worst be operated for no more than the cost of the electricity to run a computer and a soundboard - currently less than $100 per month. This of course is not ideal and there will be additional costs associated with any truly successful LPFM operation. These would be based in the cost of music copyright licensing ($100-$150 per month), music content purchases ($40 per month ongoing) and Tower rental for our antenna ($200-300 per month). In total the station will need a monthly operating budget of $400-500 per month.
Since by FCC regulations we can not operate as a profit making operation we are restricted from offering paid advertising on our station. Fundraising could be done by the traditional methods that all non-profits use. These include your typical pledge-week campaigns that Public Radio successfully uses, requests to individuals making our case for supporting and sponsoring this ministry and “sponsorships” from local businesses in exchanging their financial support for a mention of such on our station.
As with any new venture there is an element of risk. Businesses and churches both fail. An investigation of possible pitfalls in the organization and execution of this endeavor is undertaken here with the intention of identifying and addressing these pitfalls before they appear with the intent of not having to address them in the first place.
For our station to be declared a success it will need to produce a significant level of unique and local programming. This requires people. Lots of people. Since as a general rule lots of people is not something that plagues most church ministries this will need to be very intentionally dealt with. For a couple of reasons, the most likely source of people to populate our operations will be from outside our church. For one, the qualifications for these operations are quite specific in many cases and the likelihood of happening to have just the right fit from someone from our Congregation are slim. The good side of this is that adding people to our churches ministries would be a positive development. Caution, of course, would demand vetting of these folks but we have the system in place to do that already. In any event, any difficulty in integrating new people is a problem we should welcome.
People are busy and adding new demands on their time can be difficult. On the other hand, most of our Congregation is not involved in any ministry and needs to be educated to the fact they should be in order to fulfill their spiritual gifts. Pastor’s Pieces class speaks to this but the power of prayer for workers should not be underestimated.
The idea of operating costs has already been addressed but one thing should be added. To whatever degree money becomes a problem the operation and cost of running the station can be reduced to a point where they would be negligible. As long as we keep this a pay as we go project we take on no debt that we can’t reduce payment on.
The operation of KGLJ will be a large undertaking. Eminently worthwhile but still a lot of added work for the Congregation, Pastor and other leadership of our church. Required for any success will be involving as many new people as possible in this ministry. Options for doing this include personal contacts with prospective interested parties, a presentation to the Congregation of this ministry and acquiring the interest and involvement of people outside the Congregation to get involved.
Divergence of Opinion
As with any undertaking that brings change to a church some will not see the need for this effort and may reject it. As Paul points out in Ephesians, no undertaking in a church succeeds without the unity of the body so these can not be ignored. Explanations, mitigations and compromise are to be expected. However, at the end of the day, decisions must be made and one just hopes and prays for people to be gracious in not getting all they want. In all cases we will do our best to, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” And “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Eph 4:31-32), as we move forward.