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"JCTV" Rocks On!

Christian music network paves the way for faith-based programming to a new generation of viewers

By Dave Bohon. WDC Media News

(Los Angeles) -- Brandon Crouch is a little too young to remember the beginnings of the music video craze on cable television back in the early 1980s. But at 22, the grandson of TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch has witnessed the evolution of music-video networks from little more than rock radio with pictures to the edgy and extreme venues offered today. He explained that the vision for TBN’s youth-based network JCTV is to bring the same intensity and edginess that viewers see on secular music networks into a faith-based setting.

“Our goal has always been to place JCTV right on the cutting edge of cable programming geared for youth,” said Crouch, who works with the network’s vice president for programming, Mark McCallie, to create faith-based programming that will grab 13-29 year-old viewers and to promote JCTV to digital cable providers nationwide. “In fact we’re convinced that JCTV is one of the most exciting and innovative youth-based networks on the air right now. Our 24-hour mix of high-energy Christian music videos, extreme sports shows, and faith-based comedy and entertainment programs has pulled in viewers from all over the world.”

Crouch explained that the concept was something his grandfather had been pushing for years as a way to reach younger viewers with a strong faith-based message using the music and culture they’re keyed into. “Many young people, Christian or not, may not tune into some of the other Christian programming offered on cable,” Crouch explained. “But if they’re channel surfing and they stop at JCTV, I can almost guarantee they’ll get hooked.”

Launched in 2002, JCTV features 24 hours of faith-based programming that includes reality shows, music videos, game shows, talk shows relevant to youth, comedy, extreme sports, and more. McCallie notes that because the network is breaking new ground in faith-based programming, they had to create many of the new shows. “Because there was very little on television targeting this age group in the faith-based program category, we had to be real creative,” he said. “We had to go out and create shows that are edgy and relevant to youth, while at the same time being clean and family-friendly, and communicating the faith message that TBN is all about.”

That programming includes “Xtreme Life,” an extreme sports show that rivals anything on television. “I’ve been on location for some of these video shoots,” said Crouch, “and let me tell you they’re the real deal.” The difference is that the athletes are committed Christians “who offer an uplifting and encouraging message to viewers,” he added.

There are also talk shows covering topics Gen-Xers can relate to, and, of course, music videos with “enough drive to fuel a 747,” said McCallie.

Brandon Crouch is host of one of JCTV’s most popular offerings, “Top 3,” a talk and music show which he described as a youth version of TBN’s “Praise the Lord” program. “This high-intensity stuff,” explained Crouch, “with great rock and hip-hop music, well-known guests from a wide variety of venues, and talk that won’t bore kids and young adults.”

Another hugely popular program is “The Logan Show,” hosted by funny-man Logan Sekulow. Yes, he’s the son of noted public policy attorney Jay Sekulow, but the on-camera resemblance stops there. If you think Leno and Letterman are the only late-night gigs going, think again. “The ‘Logan Show’ is a late-night thrill ride,” explained McCallie, “a one-hour, fast-paced show, featuring hilarious comedy sketches, dynamic music, live performances, and exclusive interviews with today’s hottest Christian artists.”

Paul Crouch Jr., Vice President of Administration at TBN notes, “There’s a massive youth audience out there that readily aligns itself with innovative faith-based programming. They applaud it. They return to it. They tell their friends about it. JCTV is armed with the ability, talent, and technology to do just that -- create it, and then deliver it to viewers in mass.”

Brandon Crouch said he has received a lot of encouraging feedback about JCTV from parents of kids who’ve been tuning in. “With so much objectionable programming on TV right now, there are a lot of moms and dads who are grateful for the faith-based alternative we’re offering,” he said. “And they’re very vocal about the great programs we’ve been providing. That’s the kind of feedback we want to hear. That means we’re doing our job, getting relevant, cutting-edge shows out there for teens and young adults to watch – and to be influenced by.”

Bob Higley Vice President of Cable and Satellite Relations at TBN, noted that cable surveys show JCTV is broadcasting what today’s youth want to see. “We found that JCTV has a high interest rating among teens age 12 to 17,” said Higley. “In fact, 27 percent of the teens in one report indicated significant interest in watching JCTV – higher even than some of the most-watched youth based networks on cable.”

Higley explained that JCTV is part of TBN’s broader vision of providing a wide range of faith-based programming networks for different audiences. “The success of the cable industry was simply the idea of offering a variety of niche channels to a diverse audience. There is a need today to duplicate that idea by offering niche channels for the enormous faith community in America,” he said. “TBN has the resources and financing to make this idea a reality.”

To learn more, visit www.jctv.org


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