What do we do?
Whistling Frog Productions is a ministry of HCJB Global in Bradford, West Yorkshire. Rather than focus on the traditional world of Christian radio, we aim to reach those outside the church who listen to mainstream commercial radio stations.
The ethos of Whistling Frog Productions is simple: to produce creative, non-cheesy radio for an un-churched audience on Christian themes, making sure the final product is entertaining, thought-provoking and definitely not preachy. To do this we look for real stories of how God has changed lives and brought hope into dark places, and we produce short creative thoughts to help people think about what really matters in life. Because the majority of our programmes are made for music-based commercial radio stations they tend to be short, punchy and hard-hitting.
Whistling Frog have produced content on stations across the UK such as LBC, The Pulse, Gold, Heart, Stray FM and Pennine FM. Many of these commissions have been funded by the Sainsbury's charitable trust Jerusalem Productions. We have over 30 awards for our local radio content including trophies from the Sandford St Martin Awards, The Jerusalem Radio Awards, the Andrew Cross Awards and the CBC Awards.
Whistling Frog Productions also aims to be a resource to Christians working in the radio industry. We have a passion to pass on our radio skills to others, so that even more people will hear the good news on their local radio station. We run professional training courses for Christians in the UK and overseas, teaching them to produce programmes that communicate the love of God without resorting to religious jargon or mentioning John 3:16 every few minutes! To us, the philosophy of how we use radio is more important than teaching someone how to hold a microphone or how to interview.
Our producers have trained a variety of staff, volunteers and students at the BBC, Trans World Radio in the UK, Radio Worldwide, UCB and at many media conferences. We have also planned and taught radio courses in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Romania, Kosovo, Spain, North and West Africa. Many of these courses have been part of HCJB Global's Radio Planting ministries, helping local Christians around the world to set up community-based radio stations to reach their neighbours with culturally-relevant programming.
The Whistling Frog Productions team also run a radio volunteers group in Bradford every Tuesday evening.
Many of our productions can be heard on the Audiopot website at www.audiopot.org
A bit of history
Our parent mission organisation HCJB Global launched the world's first missionary radio station in Ecuador in 1931. Right from the beginning the desire was to make radio programmes that didn't just talk about Jesus but also included reliable news, quality music shows and educational programmes. This then mushroomed into a global mission which works in the areas of media and healthcare in the five major regions of the world . HCJB Global Voice is now the umbrella name for our media projects, while HCJB Global Hands covers our healthcare ministries. In many cases the media and healthcare projects work closely together. For more information on HCJB Global see our website at www.hcjb.org.uk
In 1990 Colin Lowther joined the UK office of HCJB Global in Bradford with the task to develop a new way of reaching local radio stations with creative Christian programmes. It was around this time that the requirement for commercial radio stations to include religious programming was dropped, meaning that many local stations finally said goodbye to their religious programming teams. In 1997 Whistling Frog Productions was born to help fill this gap by producing material that fitted the local radio format but still communicated the core issues of the Christian faith through one-off features and commercials. This was also the year that Whistling Frog began to make a weekly Sunday breakfast show on the West Yorkshire station Pulse 2. 'The Full Breakfast' is still going strong after 12 years.
What have we learnt?
The main thing we have learnt is that the audience always comes first. No matter what profound message you want to communicate you've got to find a 'way in' with the listeners first. That usually means you've got to entertain them in some way. Not surprising really, since radio is an entertainment medium!
So relationship with the audience is key, but so is relationship with the station management. Often the only way to get Christian material on the air is to build a friendship with a PC or Station Manager. This can take time. As long as they can see that you are there to serve them and their listeners with quality material, then you're in with a chance.
Unlike the early days of ILR, enthusiasm and passion are no longer enough to get your God bits back on air. The only way onto commercial radio today is through well-made programmes that fit the audience and entertain them at the same time. Oh yes... and money helps as well!
Who works here?
Whistling Frog Productions is based at the Media Centre in Bradford; this is the UK base of HCJB Global. Colin Lowther is the Director of Whistling Frog (and also CEO of HCJB Global), Nick Mangeolles is Programme Manager, and Bruce Gulland is our scriptwriter/producer. We also have a number of volunteers who come in to help with features, interviews and the production of our weekly local radio competition The Big Question. The Media Centre is also the home of the Audiopot website (www.audiopot.org), the Bradford Media Hub (www.mediahub.org.uk) and the International Communications Training Institute (www.icti.org.uk).
How can I get involved?
We are always on the lookout for people to join our award-winning team in Bradford. If you have some media experience and a head full of creative ideas then we'd like to talk to you. If you think you'd get a buzz from knowing that thousands of non-believing listeners were hearing your piece about Jesus then it's well worth contacting us. On the other hand, if your passion is recording sermons and producing radio Bible studies then best to try elsewhere... Contact Colin Lowther or Nick Mangeolles for more information.
Whistling Frog Productions The Media Centre 131 Grattan Road Bradford West Yorkshire BD1 2HS