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Finding Faith: Christian Radio

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It has close to 40-million listeners a week. Are you one of them?

In the final part of our "Finding Faith" series, WSBT 22's Danielle Kennedy explores Christian radio.

These stations are helping people Find Faith in a variety of formats -everything from Gospel to Contemporary Christian.

In Northern Indiana and Southwestern Michigan, Christian radio has its fans.

DJs we spoke with say people are tuning in to find something more than just music.

"You can share what God did through your life or that message or that song or what not," said Kimberly Ann Bonds, a DJ with Pulse FM in South Bend. "You are a minister."

When she left her job as DJ at a Top-40 station more than 25 years ago, the 48-year-old learned a new definition of music.

"Christian radio says, you know what, God gets it, God understands it, we do too, and, here's the answer, here's the solution, here's the hope, here's the joy," Bonds said.

It's almost like they were made for each other.

"I have never experienced anything like the type of music that we play," she added.

There are close to a dozen Christian stations in Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan - that's about a quarter of all radio stations in the area.

"Sometimes I call this region the 'Northern Bible Belt or Bible Bubble,'" said Doug Moore, a Morning Show Co-Host and Program Director at WFRN in Elkhart.

He grew up here listening to Christian music and has been on the air with WFRN for almost 20 years.

"This region is blessed with a legacy and history of faith," Moore said. "There's beautiful streams of Notre Dame and the Catholic history and then there's the Mennonite history in parts of Michiana which is very strong," he added.

WFRN has been around for more than 60 years.

Doug believes Christian Radio is growing, especially in the last decade.

"As the world is kind of coming unraveled, I think people are turning to faith more," Moore said. "People are saying, 'I need something stronger and deeper and more long-lasting then what the nightly news has, so, they're turning to, in some cases, Christian radio."

And artists are responding.

Bands like 'Casting Crowns', 'Big Daddy Weave' and 'Brandon Heath' have all tapped into the Billboard Top 200.

Then there are concerts like World Pulse Festival at Notre Dame.

"You're laughing, dancing, crying because you're moved, your world is changed, lives are always changed. The testimonies will come in for weeks and weeks after a world pulse festival," Bonds said.

"Christian artists are doing a really good job of knowing that they need to come out with something that is different, something that when somebody listens to it they say, "oh wow, this is interesting, I've never heard anything like this before, let's see how this goes," said Cody Collier, who co-hosts the morning show with Doug on WFRN.

Sometimes you'll hear him over the air. Other times you'll see him neatly photographed on album covers.

"I'd like to say that I'm an artist and my mediums are faith, family and love," Collier said. "What I write about and what the artists on WFRN are signing about, those aren't new experiences." "Those are things that people go through every day."

Even those playing the music.

"I was sharing something personal that I had been struggling through and I answered the phone and this sweet, little tiny voice started talking and then she burst out in tears," Bonds said. "You just love these folks, you love them, because they listen to you every day and they think of you as a most intimate friend, as they should, and we should never let them down."

While secular music artists have shifted their sales to digital platforms, Christian artists continue to make most of their money on CD sales. The Music Business Association says Christian/Gospel music accounted for almost seven percent of all music sales in 2014.

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That's more albums sold than Latin and Jazz combined.

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