Wonderful Words of Life
A retired missionary in radio broadcasting once told me the difference between radio and television: Television is a dictator. Radio is a friend.
A retired missionary in radio broadcasting once told me the difference between radio and television: Television is a dictator. Radio is a friend. His theory was that television demands full attention of the watcher, while radio is more like a companion that one could have while going about other activities.
Communication has changed a lot since he spoke those words. With the advances in digital media, the traditional outlets of television and radio have had to change as well. Yet, to me, the basics of good communication remain the same. We still want a clear, well-presented message. We want new information or ideas. We want to be stimulated, challenged or entertained, depending on the nature of the program.
As producer of Christian radio programs over Hong Kong’s public broadcasting station (RTHK), I work with a dozen local churches and 50 speakers to get out over 200 programs per year. Recently in a training workshop, I was asked to give my “Ten Commandments” for speakers. I decided that was a bit presumptuous to put myself up on Mt. Sinai, so I changed it to “Judy’s Top Ten Tips for Religious Broadcasting”. Here they are:
- Give a Christian message that is spiritually helpful to someone of any faith or no faith. Public radio is not Christian radio.
- Show the best of Christianity. Bottom line: God is love.
- Say something people haven’t heard before. Surprise the audience (in a good way).
- Never say anything you don’t believe or isn’t true in your own life – be honest and authentic.
- One main point or idea per broadcast is usually enough.
- Share personal experiences as appropriate to bring the point home to the listener. Stories are an excellent way.
- Use short, conversational sentences like the way you talk. The way we write and the way we speak are different. Use active voice.
- Practice reading your script aloud at home or in your office to get a feel for how it flows.
- Keep a notebook or paper handy to jot down ideas as you go through the day.
- Trust that God has a message for you to give each time. Every speaker brings something unique to the ministry. We thank God for sending you to share the Good News with Hong Kong over the radio!
The tips come out of my own experience over the years helping speakers present the best program possible. Clergy and laity have to learn to talk about faith in a fresh way that is comprehensible to listeners from every background. This is not a ‘dumbing down’ of our faith. Rather, it’s an invitation to ponder life from a different angle. It’s an invitation to discover how God is working in our world and in our lives. It’s an invitation to learn about a community called the Church that welcomes everyone to new life in Jesus Christ.
As I told the speakers, I am the luckiest person among them for I get to hear every one of their programs. They also inspire me by their commitment and creativity for this ministry year after year.
May I be found worthy of the trust that the Christian churches place in me as ‘midwife’ of these wonderful words of life going out every day over the airwaves in Hong Kong.
With best wishes,
Judy Chan is a missionary serving with the Hong Kong Christian Council. She is responsible for communications for the Council. She is also in charge of ecumenical radio broadcasting ministry, English publications and ecumenical partnerships in Hong Kong and overseas.