Leaps and bounds for Faith FM

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Adventist radio station Faith FM has experienced significant growth in the past few months, with a steady roll-out of new stations in various locations across north New South Wales and Queensland—including Port Macquarie, Lake Cathie, Wauchope, Armidale, Glenn Innes, Mackey and Eidsvold.

The growth can largely be attributed to strong support from local churches and seed funding provided by the South Pacific Division that has enabled radio communications engineer Paul Holton to be employed to help meet local demand.

“When I look back on what God [has] accomplished with our small team of staff and volunteers in 2018, I am amazed,” said Faith FM coordinator Michael Engelbrecht.

More than 30 local Faith FM radio stations launched from Seventh-day Adventist churches in 2018, largely due to campaigns designed to increase local pastors and church members’ awareness of the platform. Most recently, Paul Holton assisted Ballina Seventh-day Adventist Church to install a radio antenna on June 21.

Radio engineer equipment on location at Ballina Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“Local churches [at times] have first contact from listeners within weeks of launching their program,” says Faith FM listener support coordinator Yuli Tjokoro, who places strong emphasis on helping local churches connect with listeners. “Listeners who respond to a prize or a free offer are very strong contacts. [We] contact local church pastors or elders to personally deliver prizes, and it’s giving us great results.”

Various improvements in content and branding also extended Faith FM’s reach in 2018.

“We’ve been seeing an increasing amount of pastors and church members producing content for Faith FM, which gives the show a much more Australian feel,” said Australian Union Conference (AUC) Faith FM radio producer Brad Martin. “Another key initiative was to improve content selection and branding guidelines, moving away from third party sources.”

Brad Martin in his element.

Faith FM received a visit from Adventist World Radio’s leadership team in April, with the exciting prospect of partnering with them to establish a metropolitan-wide radio presence in one of the larger Australian capital cities. Recent industry feedback from the Australian Communication and Media Authority expressed support for newer DAB+ digital radio services but also highlighted the value of narrowcasting services like Faith FM.

“For me, an encouraging shift was the visibly strong support that narrowcasting services . . . are now seeing as an important voice representing diversity in the Australian media landscape,” said Mr Engelbrecht. “A few years ago, the future of narrowcasting had seemed to be in question.”

In the last 12 months, Faith FM has also expanded into outback territories by taking advantage of the Australian Government’s Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) digital platform to deliver radio services to over 350,000 homes via satellite. They are also working with Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Ministries (ATSIM) to launch special programs for Indigenous Australians.

The breakfast show hosted by the NNSW Conference team is very popular, with listeners responding every day.

Despite this growth, Mr Engelbrecht says that sustainability is a big struggle for Faith FM.

“Volunteers put in countless hours, and there’s also the funding situation. I ask you to pray for us, if God puts a burden on your heart to support us, please contact us.”

Faith FM’s ministry has returned multiple requests for Bible studies and baptismal studies, with many individuals giving testimonies about how listening to Faith FM from the privacy of their homes inspired them to reach out to a local church community.

“So often I’ll visit a local church and people will say ‘I’m here because of Faith FM’ and it’s exciting!” says Australian Union Conference president Pastor Jorge Munoz. “We look forward to see what God will do in the years ahead.”