Commercial radio is tuning out God, report finds

Commercial radio stations are tuning out when it comes to matters of faith, according to new research released on Wednesday.

On-air spiritual content in the UK is at an all-time low with just 18 of the 300-plus commercial radio stations broadcasting a regular religious show, according to independent Christian radio-makers Whistling Frog Productions.

Of the stations that still retain religious programming, many are relegating their 'God Squads' to the early hours of a Sunday morning, or disbanding their religious advisory teams.

The Bradford-based company asked Christian producers and presenters across the country to update them on the current situation in their towns and cities.

The report found that the majority of religious shows are in Scotland, 10 out of the 18. There are six remaining in England and two in Northern Ireland.

Colin Lowther, Director of Whistling Frog Productions, commented, "Each year we see another couple of religious shows disappear from the radar. Now must be the time for religious broadcasters to stop making programmes for an imaginary Christian audience, and to instead redirect their efforts into producing creative material that is attractive to commercial radio's largely non-believing audience.

"We need to stop advertising the local church coffee morning and start to speak the language of the listener."

The picture is not altogether gloomy, however. On Heart 96.3 in Bristol and Heart 103 in Cambridge a new one-minute showbiz-style bulletin of fun and serious religious and Christian news is proving popular. The 'God Goss' is different to normal religious output in that all the airtime has to be paid for.

There are more glimmers of hope in West Yorkshire where the award-winning Christian show 'The Full Breakfast' has just reached its twelfth year on-air on Pulse 2, and in The Isle of Man, Manx Radio has been increasing its religious output steadily for a number of years.