So while I was away, enLighten, the XM/Sirius sat-rad station for southern gospel, was slated to be kicked off the satellite feed and relegated to the online-only roster, became the cause celebre of a chorus of professionals and fans protesting the plan, and has now been given a reprieve and will remain on the sat-rad feed as XM 18, at least, perhaps, for now.

I can’t imagine any fan of southern gospel music (including me) who isn’t pleased with this turn of events. Still, I confess, when I first saw the emails start circulating to Save enLigthen!, my initial response was mostly: meh.

Regular readers who recall my ongoing dissatisfaction with the station’s song selection will probably not be surprised by this. But it’s been gratifying to see that I’m not the only one who feels this way, even if up until now I’ve been in the minority of people willing to say so publicly, Here’s Mark Trammell in a timely open letter to enLighten management after XM/Sirius spared the station:

In light of this, we (as artists) should all take stock of what we are making available to you for airplay, to make sure it is at a standard and quality that well represents the best of what our industry has to offer to the world. I for one, do not wish any ill will toward anyone who sings a gospel song. However. These same folks who helped save Enlighten have come to my table night after night asking me what they can do to encourage Enlighten to play MORE of the “good stuff” as one lady called it.

Just so (the full letter is here).

My hunch is that the groundswell of support for keeping enLigthen on the satellite feed had more to do with a)artists/writers effectively mobilizing to save a reliable income stream and b)the fact that everybody likes to have a cause to rally ’round.

What this outpouring of support probably wasn’t about primarily was the quality of enLighten’s song mix, which is reliably mediocre, not infrequently execrable, and often downright unlistenable. Here’s hoping enLighten sees the light and turns things around, so that if this kinda situation recurs, southern gospel will have a satellite radio station more worth fighting for.

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  1. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    A southern gospel radio station relegated only to the internet? Now, that’s funny!

  2. MSP wrote:

    I’ve had XM Radio for 3 years now and was thrilled to be able to listen to SG on the radio in Canada when I got it. In the past year or more I’ve plugged in the ipod or listened to a cd, and only occasionally tuned in to Enlighten. This is due largely to the fact that I feel they do a sub-par job of representing the genre.

    That being said, I thought it was unfortunate they were being taken off the air because that’s all there was. Was I surprised they were being taken off the air? No not really. I was more surprised that they were spared.

    I hope they DO take this as an opportunity to examine the quality of the music they are broadcasting to represent the genre.

  3. Leta Wilson wrote:

    I agree with some of the things I have read. Some of the songs that are played are Enlighten are old, others are by groups who should not have recorded a CD in the 1st place. I do not know why some groups are even played. I certainly hope that Marvin or whomever is responsible for getting the music together, will discard some of these cd’s he’s playing. Who cares to listen to JD Sumner and the stamps quartet from 50 years ago? I mean really! There are too many GOOD song and good groups to be playing junk like that.
    I am thrilled that there is a Southern Gospel radio station, I truly am. However, there needs to be a change in management at the station and let someone else do the lineup of songs.

  4. quartet-man wrote:

    Leta, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps didn’t exist 50 years ago, 46 maybe. :D

  5. Kelli wrote:

    I have XM Radio, and when I got it, I was excited to listen to Enlighten..but I have to admit, I turned it off after the first day. The song selection was terrible. For everyone 1 good song (production value, vocal ability and message), I had to listen to 30 terrible songs with sub-par singers who sang lyrically inferior songs. Just because you’re a “sanger”, dosen’t mean you’re a song writer too. Sometimes, the songs that were played, I felt like my 7 year old nephew could have composed better lyrics. I love SG - I grew up on it. But, I like GOOD SG..good lyrics, good singers, good production. So, I now listen to The Message…CONSTANTLY!! The songs are great, the lyrics are encouraging, and sometimes, a take a little thought (but, I like that in a song)…production of songs are excellent. Why can’t southern gospel do that?

  6. yeah... wrote:

    Well, Mark Trammell is one of the best of the good guys, and has the credibility to write what he did. But. I’d dare say that anyone had the same opportunity as Marlin did to start a sgm channel when the news of satellite radio was first talked about. Marlin did, and he’s a big boy. He can thus program any way he wants to.

    And, while I understand Mark and other full-timers wanting Enlighten to be all-pro all the time, I’m one who’s pretty glad that there’s the mix that there is. Even as I was listening yesterday, there was a big name group song on that was nothing but up-tempo drivel, followed by a soloist I’d never heard of, who sang a powerful song that was light-years better in its message and theology than the “name” group had sung. That happens fairly often in my Enlighten experience. Some of the worst schlock comes from the more famous groups. Thank goodness not always or not even often, but enough to make me think. Even $15,000 Lari Goss orchestrations aren’t a big enough Band-Aid to hide a song that’s lame. And then there’s this: at one point, every big-name artist/group was unknown, and fighting for radio play. Even when they first started, there were likely people who didn’t like them, and thought they’d never make it. Some do, most do not. But I kinda like hearing the new artists that Marlin and Company think might make it. Some of my favorite Enlighten moments have been spent listening to new songs (to me) by new artists. So many on here yak away about no new blood, no newer songs, no new vision, etc., and then turn around and pan Enlighten for trying to play just that? Just sayin…

  7. Extra Ink wrote:

    #6, I couldn’t agree more. I appreciate Enlighten & Marlin playing new up-and-coming groups. Any time a “name” group whines about lesser-known groups getting airplay, it certainly smells fishy….like the big-name group is afraid of the playing field becoming less tilted in their direction.

  8. Wade wrote:

    Enlighten got what it deserved & THAT was a QUICK DEATH!!! Their fate is a result of POOR programming!!! Either the programmers where paid to play such bad music or they programmed what THEY LIKE Either way… it sucked & deserved what they got!!! The mere lack of real outrage on this thread is proof nobody really cared!!!

  9. yeah... wrote:

    Um, Wade, the reality of real outrage, expressed in what were evidently fairly unprecedented numbers of calls, e-mails, etc., to the execs at XM/Sirious, resulted in Enlighten still being there. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s still on satellite radio.

  10. Wade wrote:

    I bet it will still suck I hope they maybe learn something by the close call!! Bet it was a good way to raise money too!!!

  11. yeah... wrote:

    Wade, I might be in the minority, but much of the programming doesn’t bother me. Sure, there are occasional songs that make me turn elsewhere for a while, but many of them are from the bigger-named artists. As for some not well known, some of it’s quite good, at least to me. And, when you live in an area without much of a sgm radio station, or travel a lot, which I do, having Enlighten is a nice blessing.

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