I would like to welcome my good friend and radio promotion executive James Riley as our guest blogger this week. With over 16 years in the music business, James has worked with Randy Travis, Amy Grant, Sixpence None The Richer, Mary Mary, and NeedToBreathe.
I love the opportunity to “guest blog” on here and to talk a bit about Christian radio. It isn’t just something I’ve been a part of professionally for the past 16 years by doing Chrisitan radio promotions for labels and now independently, it’s been a huge part of my life since I was about 8 years old. That was in the early days of Contemporary Christian music and hearing radio singles from people like The Imperials, Don Francisco, Phil Keaggy and a really young new artist named Amy Grant. I’m turning 40 really soon so I have seen a lot of changes at radio over the years. I remember getting singles on vinyl while doing college radio. Most stations that have been around for 25 years also remember when they got their first CD player installed. Ah, the countless hours of doing mailings of CD singles to radio stations over the years. Things have gotten easier delivering singles digitally. I smile when I hear a younger promoter complain about spending 20 minutes uploading a song digitally for radio delivery. I’m definitely “old school” enough to occasionally talk about “back in my day it would take all day long to do a mailing for 1,000 stations”. There has been so much change in the way radio will add songs. Anyone that has been around the music industry very much knows about testing. Most stations do some sort of testing whether it’s call out research, online surveys, auditorium testing or just look at national testing and trends. We all know the frustrations of tight playlists and trying to get a fairly new or unknown artist on the charts at the same time core artists are releasing singles in droves. I like to often remind myself of something that has not changed about Christian radio. This is something that was there in the late 70’s when I first heard it as a kid all the way to now. It’s something rather unique to Christian radio and that is the power of changing lives with a song. We get wrapped up in so many things that is often nice to read one of those listener emails that a station gets about hearing that right song at that right moment and how their lives are changed. Yes, radio can be viewed as “old school” in a world of new technology. But radio is that familiar friend I have enjoyed going to time and time again. Call me “old school” too if you like…I will take that as a compliment.
– James Riley