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At NRB Show, Social Takes Spotlight

Convention delves into building presence as well as questions of censorship

When: Feb. 22–25

Where: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Nashville

Who: “Christian communicators, from program producers to authors, pastors to engineers, directors to vendors”


How much: Members $675, others $775 (full registration)

The NRB International Christian Media Convention this month in Nashville will be the first with Jerry Johnson as NRB president and CEO.

Networking, discovery and advancement are themes of the convention. NRB is an association that represents Christian broadcasters and communicators.

Johnson was named unanimously by the NRB board after a search process last fall. He succeeded Frank Wright, who led the organization for a decade.

NRB Board Chairman Rich Bott touched on the role of technology when he hailed the hiring of Johnson: “With today’s technologies, there are amazing opportunities to advance God’s Word worldwide,” he stated in the announcement. “We have chosen an outstanding leader who is rooted in Scripture and motivated by the Great Commission, using the tools of today.” The Great Commission refers to Jesus’ instruction to his disciples that they spread his teachings.

Johnson is former president of Criswell College in Dallas, where he oversaw major-market Christian station KCBI(FM). He also has played a leadership role in the Southern Baptist Convention. One supporter described him as a leading institution-builder in American Christianity.

In the announcement, Johnson was quoted speaking about NRB’s three-fold mission: “advancing biblical truth, promoting media excellence and defending free speech. … If Christians want to be heard by the current generation, they will have to communicate the gospel in their ‘media language’ with excellence.”


Show conversation is likely to include policy themes in which NRB has been active.

For one, the association has expressed concern over what it calls “performance tax” legislation. It says royalties — still being pushed by musicians and the music label industry — would be a “crushing blow to many Christian radio stations.” The issue continues to be fought over on Capitol Hill.

NRB also has backed an FCC rule change that would allow noncom broadcasters to hold on-air fundraising for the benefit of third-party non-profits. Association Senior Vice President and General Counsel Craig Parshall has stated, “The result would be compelling: the non-profit resources in America will be more directly and comprehensively applied to the myriad problems facing today’s communities, while noncommercial broadcasters will be encouraged to perform the highest form of public service.” The FCC had not taken final action on this as of late January.

The association also has opposed approval of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would spell out employment rights for individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity, unless Congress resolves what NRB views as First Amendment problems. Religious broadcasters feel the bill would place a chill on employers that are “committed to honoring the tenets of their faith in the workplace.”

Political figures often are prominent at the convention. Former Arkansas Governor and erstwhile radio host Mike Huckabee received the NRB Board of Directors Award last year.
Photos courtesy NRB Also likely to be discussed are questions about free speech, press and religion on Web platforms like Facebook, Google and other new media systems. The NRB’s John Milton Project for Free Speech draws attention to this question, monitoring what NRB sees as threats of viewpoint censorship on the Internet.

“New media tech companies like Facebook, Google and Apple have enjoyed a Goliath-like dominance over the digital information world. Yet we have documented how they continue to censor viewpoints on their sites that promote traditional values, conservative ideas or Christian orthodoxy,” Parshall stated in the fall.


Social media takes a high profile at this convention.

The NRB Digital Media Summit on Feb. 21 is an educational event covering best practices for an effective social media presence. Speakers will be on hand from Facebook, Twitter, Google, CircleBuilder, WISE Group, Akamai, Christmas Toy Drive, Moody Radio and Jesus Daily.

Separately, Saturday’s keynote will feature Chris Larson, COO of Ligonier Ministries; Claire Diaz-Ortiz, who works in social innovation at Twitter; and Katie Harbath, manager for policy at Facebook.

Another show highlight is the International Keynote Session. Speakers include Lauren Libby, president and CEO of TWR International; Wayne Pederson, president of HCJB Global; and Wayne Shepherd, owner and president of Wayne Shepherd Communications.

Sample Exhibitors

This is a list of selected equipment suppliers. For full exhibit list visit

Armstrong Transmitter/Sine Systems
Broadcast Electronics/Commotion
Broadcast Software International
Broadcast Supply Worldwide
Broadcasters General Store
Clear Channel Satellite
Comark Communications
Comrex Corp.
Dalet Digital Media Systems
Electronics Research Inc. (ERI)
Harris Broadcast
Ka You Communications
Netia/Globecast Group
Propagation Systems Inc. (PSI)
RF Specialties Group
Rohde & Schwarz USA
RRset Global Communications Network
Shively Labs
Superior Broadcast
WorldCast Systems

The 2014 NRB Media Awards will honor outstanding ministries, facilities and programs/producers. Among radio awards are “Parenting Today’s Teens With Mark Gregston” from the Heartlight Foundation, honored as Radio Program of the Year; KSBJ(FM) in Houston, the Radio Station of the Year; and Ambassador Advertising Agency with the Impact Award. Top International Radio Ministry is Radio 7 in Albania and Kosovo.

The award for Best Website goes to run by Focus on the Family, and the Best Multichannel Initiative is the Salem Web Network of Salem Communications Corp.

The NRB Hall of Fame Award will be given to Dr. Jack W. Hayford of The King’s University/Jack Hayford Ministries; and the Billy Graham Award for Excellence in Christian Communications goes to In Touch Ministries. The late Frank Pastore of KKLA(FM) in Los Angeles will be honored posthumously with the William Ward Ayer Award for Distinguished Service.