(April 20, 2012 - by Ralph Kurtenbach from an interview by Beth Patton) John Brewer and Ty Stakes know about that magic moment when the radio deejay opens the microphone and for the very first time, a voice is heard on radios throughout the city.
|Radio studio at a partner station in Thailand.|
But putting a radio station on the air (called radio planting at HCJB Global) isn’t enough. Like their ministry partners in Thailand, HCJB Global missionaries know that the real work has just begun. Growing a relationship with the community is the key to nurturing listeners who trust and love the station and call it their own.
Earlier this year, staff from the mission’s Asia Pacific Region installed a station in southern Thailand. It began with training that showed volunteers how to operate studio equipment, produce programs and develop the station as a community ministry.
Then the local partners helped install the station with a group of churches where the congregations see radio as a key strategy in reaching out with Christ’s love to their city of nearly 160,000.
|Janice Reid gives tips to Thai broadcasters.|
“Radio planting in Thailand is our most active function in any of the countries we currently work in,” said Brewer. “We assisted our first partner station in 2005 with an upgraded transmitter. The larger effort with a vision of 100 stations started in 2009, and HCJB Global has helped plant 12 new stations since the project began in addition to repairing and upgrading a number of others.”
Two Thai ministries, the Christian Evangelism Organization and Thai Christian Radio Network, asked HCJB Global in 2009 to help them carry out their vision to plant 100 FM community radio stations throughout the country.
Integrating their radio ministries into their communities is vital in Thailand where 95 percent of the population is Buddhist. “Most Thais don’t know what being a Christian is. There is great reluctance to visit a church, even if one is nearby,” Brewer points out. “We’ve seen radio open many doors for the church to engage the community in ways they couldn’t without radio.”
Eager to make Christ known in creative and relevant ways, the announcers—many of them young people—also cultivate a station image of community involvement, service and genuine care for their city. They initiate many outreach programs, which in turn are promoted on the radio. At these events listeners connect with their favorite deejays.
In July 2011 HCJB Global helped launch iLove.fm in northern Thailand with a potential audience of 70,000. Since its inception, the station has concentrated on its community.
“Using radio, iLove.fm staff members meet people in their homes, in their automobiles, in the markets and in their workplaces. By playing encouraging music and programs that are helpful and relevant to the issues that the people face, they have built trust and rapport,” wrote Stakes, who directs the mission’s Asia Pacific Region.
“The deejays invite people to call or send text messages to request songs, ask for prayer, make comments or ask for help,” Stakes continued. “One listener said, ‘I love hearing your station in the market. It’s different from all the others and encourages me!’”
|Flooding affected millions of Thais
in the fall of 2011.
A 13-year-old girl tuned in to iLove.fm and loved it. She began going to church so she could learn more, then gave her life to Christ. Now, wanting to give back so more people can hear about Jesus, she is training to become one of the junior deejays at the station.
“This year we’re helping set up at least 12 new stations in Thailand, and I expect to see this many added in the next few years if licensing is still available,” Brewer said.
Source: HCJB Global