Faith & Service

Radio listeners invited to share in The Journey

By Drew Menard, February 20, 2015
Barry Armstrong

Barry Armstrong

No one has to walk alone. Whether experiencing life’s greatest joys or stumbling through its most treacherous valleys, people find encouragement by sharing one another’s laughter, tears, and everything in between.

Fostering this type of community is the idea behind the new Lynchburg, Va.-based radio network — The Journey FM — that launched on Dec. 26, 2014, and is heard on 25 signals across Virginia and North Carolina.

Radio today is about more than the music or programs, especially since recent advancements in digital technology have made it possible for people to choose from many different sources. What sets The Journey apart is the personal connection that happens as listeners are invited to be part of a Christian community that shares life together.

The Journey is a ministry. By providing listeners with the most popular Christian music and real-life conversation, the station has the ability to connect deeply with people wherever they are, at whatever stage of life they are in.

Though The Journey itself may be new, it is the continuation of a rich legacy. Liberty University’s founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, was a visionary who used multiple media formats to engage in ministry. He started the first radio station on Liberty’s campus in 1981, which rapidly became a staple of the community. For 31 years, the station — most recently called The Victory Network — was helmed by Jerry Edwards, who retired in early 2014. Now, led by General Manager Barry Armstrong, The Journey advances the vision of ministering to people through radio by utilizing the strengths of the medium to reach a wider audience with the hope of the Gospel.

Armstrong said he is humbled to carry on the vision and legacy of those like Dr. Falwell and Edwards. Armstrong’s own radio legacy makes him a strong candidate to lead The Journey into the future. Armstrong, along with his wife, Linda, co-founded and expanded a regional Christian radio network, where they served for over 20 years.

Armstrong said that the radio industry has changed significantly now that virtually all audio content is available on demand.

 “The music we broadcast is available many other places, so our content needs to be compelling,” he said. “We need to give people reasons beyond the music to listen to us.”

This is accomplished, he said, through the way the content is presented. The Journey invites people to become involved by telling authentically human stories with good humor.

The Journey features a daily, live morning show with local hosts. Afternoon and evening shows include nationally recognized radio personalities who offer unique perspectives on Christian living. Amanda Carroll, a single mother who shares her joys and struggles and offers spiritual insights, greets listeners in the afternoons. In the evenings, award-winning host Brant Hansen, known for his quirky good humor, often tackles controversial issues from a Christian perspective.

Whatever time of day a listener tunes in, they will find a come-as-you-are mentality, Armstrong said.

“No matter where you are in your walk with God, you are welcome on The Journey,” Armstrong said. “We want to interact with real people. For too long in evangelical Christianity, we have set personalities up as superstars who have achieved an unattainable level of spirituality. We want to represent an authentic Christianity where people admit their struggles and work together to encourage one another to live a more Christ-honoring life.”

Armstrong added that Christians sometimes have the misconception that God’s love is based on performance (or the lack thereof).

“We can’t work harder to draw closer to God,” he said. “That is our mistake. God is always there. The separation comes from us. Because of our own guilt and shame we withdraw from God and people. We cut off relationships. I say, ‘Let’s talk about it.’”

By engaging listeners with authentic, relevant conversation — and weaving in inspirational music — The Journey seeks to redirect this mindset. The Journey is ultimately a community for believers and seekers to do life together and to grow closer to Christ and each other.

“Many popular speakers and pastors have responded to an ever-shifting culture by putting their programs online and making content available through podcasts, and their ministries have continued to thrive,” added Ron Kennedy, Liberty’s senior vice president for Marketing. “In the same manner, we believe that if we are going to be effective in reaching the people around us for Christ, we must retain our message but adjust our strategy. Updating the branding will not only better reflect the current image of Liberty University, but will also, more importantly, make the station more attractive to a greater number of people who can benefit from the ministry.”

Throughout the day, listeners hear first-person stories about encountering God and overcoming struggles. Interviews with artists and other special guests go deep below the surface, using their lives to connect with the audience. “The Karen Kingsbury Show,” launched by the best-selling author last year, is also featured on the station. Kingsbury, who is a visiting professor and curriculum creator for Liberty through an exclusive partnership, interviews Liberty students on the weekday program. Listeners are invited to share their stories as they interact with both on-air hosts and other listeners by connecting through social media.

Armstrong understands the power of technology in connecting people across multiple platforms.

A station van allows The Journey team opportunities to engage the community from a number of locations. While a host can present a show from the studio at The Journey’s office in Candlers Station Shopping Center in Lynchburg, other team members can interact with listeners on the road.

Through social media and the station’s website (www.MyJourneyFM.com), listeners have access to interactive features and additional unique content, including extended interviews and videos.

The Journey FM‘s new mobile app does more than just stream programming; it offers ways for users to communicate with the station, such as texting or voice messaging. It even includes an alarm function so that listeners can wake up to the friendly voices of The Journey hosts.

In addition to encouraging and facilitating spiritual growth and Christian community, The Journey FM also provides Liberty students with unique learning opportunities.

Liberty trains Champions for Christ so that the good news of the Gospel can be shared through every possible avenue,” Kennedy said. “The Journey FM is a unique opportunity for us because it will not only provide our students with practical business training in a radio studio, but will directly communicate the hope of Christ to the community around us. Students will be changing lives through their education, and that’s something we get excited about.”

Listen to The Journey FM

Lynchburg/Roanoke/Danville, Va. – 88.3
Charlottesville, Va. – 96.7
Waynesboro, Va. – 100.3
Richmond, Va. – 94.9
Tidewater Area/Elizabeth City, N.C. – 88.3/98.3/107.3
Roanoke Rapids, N.C. – 91.1
Rocky Mount, N.C. – 107.3

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