Christianity Today has a must-read piece on Salem Communications and its place in Christian radio. If you listen to Christian talk radio in a major market in the U.S., then it’s likely that you have been listening to a station in Salem’s ubiquitous broadcasting network.
Salem Communications operates 97 stations, and 61 of them are in the country’s top-25 markets. Salem owns many of the frequencies that feature programs like James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and Chuck Swindoll’s Insight for Living. Al Mohler, Janet Parshall, and Bill Bennett all host shows that are syndicated by Salem. According to CT, Salem is the force to be reckoned with in Christian radio. Their competitors are not ma’ and pop local Christian radio, but the media giants like Clear Channel Communications and CBS Radio.
The CT story was of interest to me because the College at which I teach has a communications division with a radio station, KCBI FM. In Dallas, Salem does not dominate the Christian talk-radio market, our station does. KCBI broadcasts Focus on the Family and Insight for Living as well as many other popular programs. KCBI still has the greatest number of listeners for its format in Dallas, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon.
The article contains both praises and critiques of Salem, and thoughtful Christians will be interested to read the essay in full, especially if you listen to Christian radio.