Amateurs Hour

Would it be a good idea or a bad idea for local Southern Gospel stations to have an amateurs hour?

Would it cause even less professional acts than some stations currently play to get aired? Or would it have a positive effect of isolating amateur acts in that segment?

For more about —and other Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

22 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. If all “local/amateur” acts were delegated ONLY to such a block, and freed up time for the “bigger” names, then it would be a good idea. But if they have a dedicated “local hour,” followed by local acts all over the rest of the day, then it’s a BAD idea.

  2. I thought all SG Radio were amateur acts. lol Just kidding

  3. Yikes! Horrible idea! I would change the channels (or Internet site) as quickly as I could!!!!!

  4. Our local radio station does have a time slotted for local “talent.” However, people in the area call in and make request… To be blunt, I quit listening a long time ago because it is terrible. I can’t imagine it being like this in every area. Of course, the people in this area are strange anyway… they would rather here the quartet that doesn’t even try to sing harmony over the professional sounding recordings.

    I think it’s a bad idea to have the local hour… if they are really good, play them a few times during the day. If they are not, don’t play them at all.

  5. Well, I for one do not want to hear local acts on the radio, because most of them local for a reason–they’re just not that polished. I know there are some reasonably good artists out there, but they are few and far between. I honestly have yet to hear “amateur hour” on any major country or pop station in my area, and I don’t think southern gospel should succumb to the notion either. For us to offer the masses anything less than the best southern gospel music has to offer is not being a good steward of our resources and says very little about our concern in attracting new listeners.

    It’s a pitiful thing–this dead horse we keep beating that is southern gospel radio. But since you brought it up, if southern gospel music ever wants to be taken seriously in radio-land, it needs a complete overhaul. If we could get two things in place, we’d stand a chance though–quality music and quality DJs.

    I think we could take a lesson from the major markets in other genres and play only the best A-and-B groups in the market. Sorry if anyone is offended by this, but not being played on the radio takes nothing away from a group’s ministry or sincerity or necessity in the grand scheme of things. Local artists are important, and I’m not taking anything away from that. However, if an artist thinks they need radio airplay in order to be validated, they need to find another line of work. In baseball, the best players on the team are the ones in the starting line-up. It should be the same concept with radio.

    Likewise, a DJ’s main job is to introduce the songs, either before or after they’re played. It’s not to make a commentary about each one or tell his/her life story in between. I realize many stations operate on budgets and cannot afford professional announcers, but at least the people who are there to do the job could and should be trained on how to properly and professionally do it and not be left with an open mic and the gift of gab. And any person unwilling to adhere to standards of minimal talking and proper grammer would eventually be finding another job if I were the station manager.

    When we get down to the reason to have radio in the first place–to provide good Christian entertainment, promote the genre of southern gospel music, and uplift the message of Jesus Christ–there’s no room for anything less than the best we have to offer.

  6. Brady, you described the local DJ in my area. He spends more time telling jokes and attempting to be funny than he does introducing songs. His song selection is awful. The local artists that he plays over and over again have no business even trying to sing. Most of them are singing to soundtracks and breaking copywrite laws (I am aware that you can do that if you pay to use the track… however, most of them don’t do that). The quality of the recording is usually not very good (vocals too hot… not loud enough). Once again, this is why I have stopped listening to it. And FYI, this guy (the DJ) was actually a “charting DJ” a few years ago.

  7. I like the idea of ‘amateur hour’…
    Mostly, just because there are lots of groups who otherwise would never be heard.
    If they are in the Southern Gospel ministry I think they deserve some air-time.
    I do believe they should be limited to that amount of time though, and nothing more.

  8. #7… You sing in a local group? lol

  9. I don’t have SG radio here, but I can see that the idea of a “local hour,” if amateurish music was confined to that time period, would relieve some people’s headaches – at least you would know when not to listen. 🙂 Or you could schedule at 2-3 am.

    I’m not able to listen to AQR much now, but they do play a lot of amateur music, and it never really bothered me – they stayed on key, and I just turned it down when I wasn’t interested.

  10. yes, #8, I do!
    Besides, how in the world do you guys think that these big name groups got their start?
    They didn’t just walk into a studio and say ‘record us’…they started somewhere…they were amateurs once too..wishing someone would play their songs…
    I see absolutely nothing wrong with an amateur hour. If you aren’t interested in listening…don’t.

  11. Maybe we should start looking from the bottom up instead of from the top down, in the the southern gospel industry.
    What level of SG, sacred or inspirational music are we discussing regarding amateur hour thing?
    The so called “amateurs” are the farm system of gospel music.
    As an amateur. I would be going to all the talent competitions I could find and singing anywhere I could to get exposure.
    The last place I would go is to a local radio station for an hour set up by some afternoon DJ to subject me to be a laughing stock like you and me.
    The talent hunting competition at the well set up multiple nights southern gospel events offer me a opportunity to network with the people that really counts in the gospel music industry plus I will receive encouragements from the knowable fans in the industry.
    Mixing amateurs with the quality at a radio station is not a good idea. It diminishes the quality of programming.
    Finally, we all have a different perception of quality depending on our little corner in this world.

    The current state of economic affairs of the country is giving some of the higher level artists some silents nights while giving a boost for many regional groups in the industry.
    Some of these lesser known groups are schedules are booked well into the middle of 2009 thanks to the regional talent agencies, showcases and legiminate talent competition in the industry.

  12. If these “amateurs” were putting out QUALITY material, I would have no objection, but playing local groups for the sake of playing local groups is preposterous. As brady said, you don’t hear country or pop stations playing “local” or “amateur” music during their peak hours. They want the best-quality music available to attract the most listeners.

    The problem lies not in the local/regional/national debate; it lies solely in what we accept as a “quality recording.” Artists at all levels are so worried about pinching pennies that they cut corners at every turn, resulting in a sub par recording. This isn’t just the smaller acts, but BIG NAME artists are doing this.

    I read a review for a CD by a “national group,” saying that it was one of the better projects they’d put out in recent history. I listened to some of that CD, and let me tell you, if that’s the best they have done in the last few years….WHY ARE THEY CONSIDERED A “NATIONAL” GROUP?!

  13. One of the stations out here used to play local amateur groups on one night a week (8 to 10pm), but there seemed to be some complaint among the many groups out here that their songs were not being played as often as the better local groups’. As a result (as well as other format changes), the station removed that block of special programming.

    Another station tends to mix the amateur with the professional (and has recently added a third genre: patriotic). I find myself changing stations frequently depending on what’s playing.

    A third station (a country station which plays gospel on Sunday mornings before church) mixes professional with a small mix of the good, local amateur groups. I believe any group can submit their CDs for air, but I think the station is a little more stringent on the quality they will allow.

  14. #7, your statement “if they are in the southern gospel industry, they deserve air time,” seems flawed to me. How did you arrive at this conclusion?

    I’ve heard plenty of groups with more dollars than sense or talent who had no business on a stage–let alone radio. Could they be effective on stage? Sure. I’m sure every single group has people who love their music. And this is taking nothing away from the group’s sincerity. But just because they purchased their way onto a label or could afford a project or were cousins of the producer does not make them WORTHY of anything. It means they have money or knew the right person. Period. It had no correlation to their worthiness to be on radio.

    No hard feelings intended, but this is the type of fallacy that has gotten southern gospel radio in this mess to begin with. Too many subpar groups sending songs to radio and radio buying into the notion that they need to play every song on every comp disc sent to them. (And this is probably all being done by a DJ whose discernment of which groups to play or not to play depends on who gave him a free CD or t-shirt at the product table.) And while I do admit that sincerity goes along way with me being able to listen to a group and respect them for who they are, you simply cannot judge sincerity by a song on the radio. You can’t listen to Gold City or the Inspirations or Gaither Vocal Band or McKameys or Booth Brothers or whomever they are and detect whether or not they are sincere or genuine.

    And that’s one of the many reasons radio is so off track today, in my opinion. There aren’t enough hours in the day to discuss the subject of southern gospel radio, though! LOL!

    By the way, my first introduction to a lot of groups comes via The Gospel Greats and the musical discernment of one of southern gospel radio’s best friends, Paul Heil. I’ve also been introduced to groups by attending their concerts in the area.

    It just never occurred to me to listen to amateur hour for finding the next big thing in gospel music, because if they’re playing all local talent, I’ve probably heard them around my area and most likely know the groups and their ministries already. So for me, amateur hour is like a time designated so grandma or cousin Eddie can call in and request their relative singing and then get a big kick out of calling all the neighbors to tune in to hear the “celebrity” in their family over the local airwaves.

    And (shock) I sing in a group. I just don’t buy into the misguided notions or get into the ego thing like a lot of others do.

  15. AMEN JANNA……

  16. One of our local stations used to program locals exclusively on Saturday mornings. It was a popular show. They had a list of sponsors a mile long for that two hour segment.

    Problem was…when they were programming regular “good” music, they’d stop and run down that long list of sponsors for the local show after every two songs or so.

    The ad was nearly five minutes long!!!

    Fortunately, they finally cut that out.

  17. The name of the game is money! Yes, most groups who are considered amature just do not have money for marketing much less a top quality project. Professional groups usually have a studio they can work in and they will work on a project for months fine tuning it osting them little. Amature groups get to rent studios and push a project in 3 to 5 days and costs them everything. Then they nearly bankrupt themselves trying to sell their product and still they sing dates weekly. Those amatures who have a good CD usually run out of money to market it to the mass market.

    I operate Heir Wave internet radio to give semi-professional and independents a place to be heard on the internet. I understand that this is not for all and I would not expect everyone to listen. Some people just prefer professional groups and that is their right. My actual goal is to give these artists a place to market their music. My hope is that perhaps someone will hear their songs and be blessed. The big time radio industry doesnt understand the ministry side of these artists nor do they care.

  18. I agree with the comments saying that it should be a quality group before they get air-play. Nobody should get a free pass, even for a limited amounted of air-time. Having said that, I feel that a local hour could be a very nice touch and an excellent way to find some genuine talent.

  19. It’d be great for groups like the Birdsongs and the Cunnignhams to get airtime. They do some really great music.

    • Well…we were talking about SG radio specifically. The Birdsongs wouldn’t really count in that category I’m afraid. 😉

      • Birdsong is the name of the family. They’re gospel all the way. Trust me, listening to a bunch of birds tweeting for 30-45 minutes would make me need a straight jacket and a padded room.

  20. These “amateur” groups are for the most part just that amateur… They need to be given certain restrictions for being allowed on radio special program or not… There is nothing worse than trying to introduce someone to SG just by having them listen to a SG station… They will turn it off quicker than a cat runs from water…


  1. The Thousand Comment Contest | - [...] Amateurs Hour (December 2008) [...]