I’m old enough to remember when COVID-19 was the headline of the day.

Then, two weeks to flatten the curve.

Then the vaccines. Then the vaccine mandates.

Then the Canadian truckers.

Now Russia invades the Ukraine.

So, in a format that promises to be positive, encouraging, uplifting, and lots of fun at parties… how do we talk about this noise without breaking our promise?

Anyone who has hung around me long enough knows that I believe the CCM format done best is based upon shared values. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs established that once you’ve accounted for the basic needs of food, water, sleep, and safety, the human differentiates from our four-legged friends with higher concepts such as “Love and belonging needs” and “self-actualization.” After all, a horse doesn’t stand around wondering what it means to be a horse.

When you base your strategy on shared values, you’re making a promise. Even if implied. You’re saying, “We see the world the way you do.” Your listeners will let you know when they don’t.

Most complaints you receive are from those that believe your worldview is different from theirs.

In these days of hyper-polarization where even the mention of Daffy Duck can result in a backlash of “Why isn’t he wearing pants?,” it’s a challenge to find the common ground where our values overlap.

Here is a suggestion…

As your station faces the challenge of being relevant in the world of Russia and the Ukraine, Canadian truckers and Justin Trudeau, vaccine mandates and masks, dig deep to find the values that unite your listeners. Even if it’s only one or two.

Often the common ground is prayer. Whether your listeners are left-handed or right-handed, they likely agree that prayer is a good thing.

Some stations are very open about prayer on the air and some less so. Here is a way we handled it at one station:

Years ago in Columbus, Ohio, a sniper had terrorized the city by shooting at cars from freeway overpasses. People were scared to go to work. Parents were reluctant to send their kids to school. It was THE BIG DEAL on everyone’s mind.

My station, 104.9 The River, was not a station that was known for praying on the air but we felt the need to do something to reflect common values of what was on everyone’s mind.

We created a One Minute Prayer at 1, where numerous pastors and community leaders prayed for the safety of the citizens and the apprehension of the sniper. It was specific – one minute at one – and it was viral with community leaders sharing their concerns with our audience and their tribe.

The situation in the Ukraine isn’t going away anytime soon. My suggestion is that you consider how your station can embrace specific common values to reflect your brand’s perspective on what is happening in the headlines.

*Inspired by a conversation with Brad Linnard at UCB-Canada