|(Continued from Issue 6...)
KOKF: ...in the same token,
when you look at young, mobile, above average income, white collar workers, Oklahoma City
is 206% of the national average. That accounts for almost 40% of our total population.
These people are hip, they're going to be rocking and rolling. That's one of the problems,
a lot of people want a panacea. We'll do this, and it will work everywhere. I've heard
that forever, and it used to work back in the 60's. Well, we're not in the 60's anymore.
And the attitudes, the life-styles, the way people conduct themselves, the way they
behave....are so different now. If radio programmers are not tuned into what's happening
in that marketplace, I don't think they are going to achieve the kind of penetration they
must achieve in mainstream. If you really want to evangelize, then you have to look at the
kinds of things, that KOKF has looked at. Last year, Oklahoma City dropped its last
remaining FM easy listening radio station...gone. According to George Barnum, research
indicates that the character and make-up of the baby-boomers and baby-busters is not (even
among those who are Christians) going to support the paid religious radio programs
anymore. This is not going to happen anymore. They won't support that stuff. And we're
looking at the probability that in just a few years, those 40 to 60 years of age will want
classic rock, album rock, hit music sounds, and oldies from the 60's and 70's. That's what
they are going to want on the radio. It's not going to be easy listening & adult
contemporary for the older folks. For the younger folks, we see it progressing to the
contemporary hit music genre. That's where we've got to be if we really want to be
ACM: Have you given any thought at all about...and I don't know if there are FCC
regulations to prohibit it...having a short-wave broadcast of your station that could be
picked across the country, as well as Canada and Mexico.
KOKF: That's a new idea. We have never even talked about such an idea at this
point...to go shortwave. We know digital audio broadcasting is coming...it's just on the
ACM: I've given a great deal of thought of the limitless possibilities if you
could digitally broadcast over shortwave. You could literally cover an entire nation's
market from one source. And being fairly central like you are, you could easily cover
KOKF: That's an incredible idea! I'm going to have to kick that one around.
ACM: Part of the problem is that there is no market because there is no
perceived market. The people that are there don't even know that the music exists, so
they're not going to ask for it, so no one is going to play it for them, so record
companies have no market for their product...no one knows it exists.
KOKF: That's exactly right. We did a study a while back with Mardell's, which is
the leading Christian music retailer here in Oklahoma City. They are regional and have
stuff all over the general area, but they have six stores here in Oklahoma City. We sat
down with their people at the different stores, and talked with their national buyer
looking at the profile of music they're selling. If you know about the music that's
selling, usually praise and worship is number one by a mile. As far as general categories
go, it breaks down like that. Here in Oklahoma City, almost 60% of their total music sales
in the last three years have been in rock, heavy metal, and what we'd probably call chr.
It's totally upside down compared to their stores everywhere else. So, there is an impact
here. Albums have been available to the secular market at Sound Wherehouse and some of
these other places. They've found out who we were and they call us about stocking extra
copies of stuff because people go in there. So many of our listeners never set foot in a
Christian bookstore and would wonder why you go to a bookstore to buy music...would have
no idea, no concept of that. One of the wild stories is when White Cross first hit with
their very first album on Pure Metal, Sound Wherehouse started getting people in wanting
it. They tried to find out where they were hearing it, so they called us and we talked and
they started stocking White Cross. In a store like that, they depend on fast moving
product, they're not going to stock anything that moves slow. We checked some of their
stores, and they were stocking as many as twelve copies of White Cross' original album.
That was really unusual. Usually they've four or five...six in a slot. But they found out
that when we get on something and its hot, they'd better get stocked up, because people
are going to buy it. There's been a tremendous impact as far as musical sales are
concerned. You've probably heard these stories. We have a wonderful time with some of
these record labels, because we're not playing what they want us to play.
ACM: Kevin Allison's paper The Pure Rock Report has mentioned that
before...about labels complaining their singles are passed over for the other album cuts.
KOKF: (Greg laughs) Reunion told us, well...if you're not going to play what we
release, just don't play any Reunion product at all. (Everyone laughs)
ACM: Then they won't pick up Renee Garcia's album, or really work with it,
because it's too aggressive. That's the impression I'm getting.
KOKF: That is really the old ostrich with his head in the sand.
ACM: Well, is there anything else you can think of? A closing note to summarize
where things are going from here?
KOKF: Something I haven't mentioned is the way we present the music...I think it
is very important. You can have all the right cuts, but they have to be presented right.
One thing that bothered me when I heard tapes of Christian hit radio stations, they still
had their little five minute teaching things, like Larry Burkett, in the format. They had
their scripture verse of the hour...their power verse of the hour. If their target is the
Christian kid, that's fine. That's nice. But they have all of this Christian happy talk.
We don't have that...we're music. We don't have those special programs, and we don't have
a lot of what I call Christian happy talk. We present it as a hit music radio station.
Except for the heavy metal. The metal is delivered as an underground pilot radio station.
There's no hype, no jingle...it's very laid back, just music... But apart from that, our
format is pretty much hyped, high-energy top 40 and delivered as such. We present a
scripture that may apply to a human need, such as somebody struggling with lust. We'll
grab a piece of scripture from the NIV or Living Bible and lay that into the intro of a
ACM: It's more applied Christianity then...more relevant.
KOKF: We let the Word speak for itself. We're not giving opinions; saying, well
here's how my day went. We're not saying anything other than what the Word says applied to
a specific situation. It may relate to the song you're going into, or it may not. The
point is that, for a mainstream secular listener, you're going along listening to this
thing, and whatever we say, you're going to hang in there with us, because there's a good
beat and you know the songs. You're not being preached at.
ACM: What most kids are getting, though, is just the opposite of that.
KOKF: It's very important that it be handled that way. We also look at what we
call programmed learning or attitude action learning. We use a pattern of messages that
support each other and support what the Bible has to say. We are number one in the market
in total daily time spent listening by teens, and we're number two in 18 - 34. We have a
very long listening day with our target listeners, so we use that to good advantage. For
example, avoiding pre-marital sex if we address that particular subject - always a hot
topic. Some of the target songs will look at a guy saying no to a girl, or a girl saying
no to a guy, or dealing with resisting peer pressure to perform sexually...things like
that. For example, Temptation by Painted Orange, Fantasy by the Dynamic Twins, True Love
Always by Steve Arrington, About Sex by Jacob's Trouble. We've got some oldie recurrent
tracks, If You Don't Like It by Judson Spence, Much Too Much by Talking Drums, and Young
Boy, Young Girl by Rick Cua and Rebecca Sparks.
ACM: That's quite a line-up of songs right there.
KOKF: You wouldn't hear them all back to back; they'd be programmed
systematically throughout the period of say, three to four hours...realizing that we have
a long listenership with these folks. You might hear one piece of scripture that would
address lust or a Godly kind of love going into one of those songs.
ACM: Have you ever gone as far back as Kaja?
KOKF: Kaja is still very big. We still get a lot of requests for Kaja. That's a
timeless, classic sound. Eventually we see that coming out in a lot of kids that we talk
with, because really God watches over as we perform it...it won't turn void. It works;
it'll pile up in a persons life and change their attitude, and eventually for a lot of
kids it changes their actions. It's constantly there. Those are a couple of very important
things One of the reasons we're effective is because of the things we don't do and don't
say. And, another reason why we're so effective is due to what we do say and how we say
it...and how we program it.
ACM: What you are, then, is an alternative to the standard radio fare...and what
you're not is just the standard Christian radio station that heaves out a lot of good
feelings, happy talk and sleepy music.
KOKF: We're there with you. You can trust us. Everybody that we deal with
explicitly trusts us. It's really interesting, because we're almost unclassifiable, right
now. We're in between. We're not really a Christian station, and we're not really a
secular station. For the Birch ratings ... we explained everything ... wrote out exactly
what we're doing and who we are. When we got their mailing back a year-and-a-half ago,
they'd reclassified us as mainstream chr. They'd dropped any connotations of us as being
religious or Christian. Though we are very much Christ- oriented; we don't ever say we are
Christians on the air. But we are Christianity in action on the air. Jesus didn't go
around the place saying, "I am the Messiah, I'm speaking up on the grass hill at
seven. Be there." That's not the way He worked, that's not the way we work on the
air. We have stationary we use for mailing to churches and other people that identifies us
as a Christian radio station, and admit to that whole-heartedly, but on the air where we
are fishing on that mainstream pond, so to speak, we never ever claim to be a Christian
radio station. We just are.