Making the Old New Again

The Old

A bit of background first: I work for Keys for Kids Ministries, used to be called Children’s Bible Hour back in the day. The ministry was originally formed to produce the radio show “The Children’s Bible Hour” (deceptively named; it was only a half hour long) in 1942, so as an organization we have a rich depth of history in radio.

Added to that is Keys for Kids Radio, which was originally Children’s Sonshine Network and then His Kids Radio, and began at WCSG in 1989, a Christian radio station in west Michigan. WCSG donated the equipment, website, name, and the rest associated with His Kids Radio to Keys for Kids Ministries in 2014, and so two strong radio histories came under one roof.

The New

Of course, a lot of changes in technology have come since 1942 and 1989, and now we radio types at Keys for Kids have really been trying to navigate where the future of radio is going.  We have great content and a capable and willing web development team to help us deliver it. For the foreseeable future, we’re putting a big focus on Internet-delivered content while continuing to distribute programming through terrestrial radio stations.

Podcasting has been huge for some years now, and that’s one area that I think we can expand towards. We already produce the Keys for Kids audio devotional and the Parent Minute radio feature as podcasts, but we don’t have a “made for podcasting” program, which I think would be a good way to go. And there are whole podcasting networks, like Gimlet Media, that we could emulate for programming possibilities (although the content would be written from a rather different perspective). The challenge here is that children aren’t so much into podcasting, and so delivery would depend heavily on a more advanced Keys for Kids app that would interest them.

So if the podcast is the on-demand radio show end of the spectrum, music streaming is on the other end, at least as far as Keys for Kids Radio goes. Unlike Spotify or Apple Music, Keys for Kids Radio provides a continuous stream of curated music and programs for kids, rather than the listener searching for music they may or may not like. Essentially, it’s taking the style of a radio station and delivering through an Internet stream instead of a terrestrial radio broadcast. Is that the best model of content going forward? Not sure. Anecdotally, we know there are many families and kids who loyally listen to Keys for Kids Radio for hours a day.

I wouldn’t want to leave out the fact that we do indeed have quite a few shows available on demand on our website. Our own Keys for Kids programs of course: Keys for Kids, Red Rock Mysteries, and Down Gilead Lane; and Paws & Tales, The Pond, Kids Corner, and a few more. Red Rock and Gilead we could turn into podcasts if we chose, but I don’t think they’re quite right for podcasts, whereas they fit well as on-demand shows on our website.

The Future?

That’s a good question. I’m not sure where it’s going from here. But we’ve got a good team to work on it, and God has a plan for our ministry. It’s up to us to follow it.