A few days ago I attended the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. (Before I continue, let me repeat what I have said before: the public policy work that the NRB does is invaluable to Christian communicators and supporters of free speech in America. That alone is worth the membership fees.) This year’s convention was very different for me. As the serving Chair of the Church Media Committee, I was an ex-officio board member, and had to go to several extra meetings I normally did not attend. One of those was the board meeting, where I sat in a room with some of the pioneers of Christian broadcasting. As I looked around the room a couple of thoughts ran through my head. As I realized I was the youngest person in the room I wondered, “Who are the next generation of leaders in Christian communication? And why aren’t any of them here?”
Now, these people are smart and driven. And they have truly done and continue to do, eternally significant work. But the NRB, like many organizations of it’s age, is a bit of a good old boys club. And for several years it has been declining. There are several reasons for that, but the outcome is the same. The NRB is dying just like Christian TV. Two years ago I actually went to my Church Media Committee meeting to resign, and not look back.
But in that meeting I learned that the NRB was making some pretty major changes to the convention program. So, not only did I stay on, but I ended up serving as the chair of the committee. And we spent the first part of the year talking about what we would like to see changed. And were pleased to see many of our ideas were heard.
I’d love to say that every change worked, but not everything did. I’m sure we will be tweaking. I handed off the chairmanship of the committee, but will still be working on it. I hope things improve.
My fear is that the perception of NRB will continue to be that it is an association for older broadcasters who like to dress in three suits. There are a few people that dress down, or wear jeans with their sport jackets and such. I was proud to wear my name badge with the extra flags on the bottom, especially the Board of Directors one, with jeans and an untucked shirt. Not just because I had a bit of rebellion in my heart about the general dress of attendees, but because I wanted younger people to see that there are a few people on the board that are not from the same mold. The same mold is what we need to keep changing.
I have written before about the future of religious broadcasting. I strongly believe that it must change or it will die off. I believe that the NRB can and will continue to shift toward the future and continue to be an association worthy of membership. It’s a lot like turning a large ship with a small rudder. I just hope we can get on the right course before we sink.
One thought on “Will the NRB Survive?”
As a TV production professional of over 20 years working in the Christian TV arena I agree with you completely. And the reason you were the youngest person in the room is quite frankly because these old guys (whom I really do respect) are holding on to the reigns with a death grip. They will not allow anyone to tell them the future of Christian TV requires change. You should see their board of directors. They are a joke. Just a bunch of relatives and “yes men”. This is very sad, and I think they are more worried about their empires they have built falling into the wrong hands than they are about how to reach the generations younger than them who do not watch Christian TV at all (which is Everyone, btw). The blueprint was built 30 years ago for Christian TV on a foundation of fundraising (telethons, books, and now vitamins and tribulation food selling) and they are not about to take a risk of trying something completely different. As far as radio, there are some contemporary Christian music stations who have evolved over the years to be more like mainstream. But Christian TV has isolated itself from the rest of the media community.
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