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Cross Rhythms has two outlets for our radio station - through the internet and as a community radio station for Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme on 101.8FM.
All three deliveries of Cross Rhythms radio are very different, reaching different audiences, who interact with the radio in different ways. In time Cross Rhythms will have the resourcing to develop our satellite and website broadcasts to better serve their audiences, but currently our main focus is developing the FM delivery, which is subsequently rebroadcast on the other two systems.
The reason we are prioritising the FM station first is because we believe through it we are learning and developing a whole new model of Christian radio - one that can stand up in the marketplace and engage and be relevant to the wider community outside the church as well as the church itself.
In being a bridge between the church and the wider community, our programming has an effect and is a service to both.
For the church, our contemporary music format and fast paced FM style can be challenging to current church culture, particularly for the older generations. However, we get a strong positive response from youth leaders and youth in the local churches. We also hold as stong a connection as possible with local church by giving specific slots for contemporary worship programmes and doing testimony and teaching programmes. Further, we daily interview local church leaders and ministries. All these we present in a contemporary manner eg our teaching is over dance music.
For the wider community we can be challenging because we do not compromise on our Christian values and worldview, and we look to represent and share the character and love of Jesus. However we also look to show that Christianity is much more than an older generation tradition or a two hour Sunday social club that has no relevance to everyday life. The station is underpinned by Christian values but it is driven by local issues. Every day we deal with local issues, speaking with local businnesses, the Citizen's Advice Bureau, the local theatres, local artists, the police, health, education and employment agencies. We also interview local MP's, council members and the elected mayor, and profile initiatives and events in the area. The local newspaper supplies us with hourly local news, and every month we dj Christian rock music in a local rock venue.
Through our cultural relevance to the whole of the local community, we are finding doors are opening for us to engage and get involved with a variety of community initiatives, bringing our natural Christian selves into the marketplace of our city and interacting with the leaders and decision makers. For example we are on the decision making board for the local Citizen Of The Year Award; we are on the steering group for Music City - a council driven initiative to develop a music brand for the city including an annual city wide 2 week festival; we are on drug awareness committees, youth committees, city centre events groups and many others.
Why The Contemporary Music? - Why All That Rock, Rap, Dance and Pop?
Since the 60's, Western culture has developed very strongly with the emergence of rock, pop and dance music styles, as well as popular culture film and video entertainment. More recently, through the internet, technology has taken communication and media to a readily accessible global influence level.
In this time the church has found it very difficult to embrace these changes and by and large has not maintained a voice in the everyday marketplaces. Where once church was at the heart of the community, it is now having to recognise that it is culturally out of touch with modern society and that people do not know how to engage with it.
At Cross Rhythms probably the main 'complaint' we receive from older people in the church is that they 'don't like the music', 'it's too loud'. Whilst we understand that this will be relevant personal opinion, we also feel the decision makers in the church must be careful not to miss the service and role that contemporary Christian radio can have for the church back into our communities. You see, at the same time, the main comment we receive from those in the wider community outside the church is that they 'love the music'! Often these people are of the same age as those in the church who don't like the music.
In the church we tend to think that if music has a beat it's 'for the kids'. Yet outside church culture many people from early teens to mid fifties would listen to their local FM radio stations - it's part of their normal culture!
So at Cross Rhythms we feel that contemporary media and contemporary music are powerful tools to help the church re-engage with society at large. In particular they are vitally necessary to help connect with a younger generation so immersed in a media world.
Christian values media cannot work on it's own however, it is a voice for local church and must work in partnership with local church vision. It is two way. The media must see and serve what local church is doing, and local church must see and serve what Christian media is doing. Together they see and serve what God wants to do in a community.
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