[INTERVIEW] Chris Elliott, 'It's actually seeds for a better life'

Chris Elliott has worked in the radio industry for more than 35 years, but his role as producer and host on Salvos Radio is the most rewarding work of his life.

How did Salvos Radio begin?

In 2005, Captain Peter Hobbs and radio presenter Major Chris Witts decided to start a lifestyle program called Salvos Radio where they would talk about people’s issues and how to help us grow through them. 

Today it has four different segments: an anecdotal spot, an interview, a psychologist and we feature a Salvo who looks at an issue in life and gives tips on how to navigate it. 

I started on the team in 2011. Today the program is on about 80% of Christian stations around the country and some commercial stations.

What drew you to Salvos Radio?

My history is with commercial radio since 1982 and I’ve always believed radio is life changing. I went to Sydney to work at a Christian radio station, and we started going to a Salvos church there. A person mentioned Salvos Radio to me, and I thought, “That’s a really great place to work because of what the Salvos do.”

Later a colleague said, “Oh, I was doing Salvos Radio before,” and I said,  “That’s it. That’s what I want to do.” 

I’ve worked as a copywriter with agencies in Melbourne and Albany. I’ve worked at 3MP Southern Cross copywriting, as well as been on air at Triple M and other stations across Australia. And I thought, “This incorporates everything I’ve done. I’m writing segments. I’m editing using audio equipment, I’m producing, I’m interviewing, I’m putting the music research in.” It was everything in a 15 or 30-minute block. I applied and a few months later I got the gig.

What makes Salvos Radio different from the other places you’ve worked?

It’s not only just music and entertainment; it’s actually seeds for a better life. Every element is focused on overcoming issues and growing and succeeding in whatever area, whether it is spiritual, physical or mental.

What’s the mission of the show? 

It’s all about finding freedom—freedom from addiction, freedom from other issues, in Jesus. 
I don’t preach to people, I just try to be an anchor and raise questions that get people thinking. 

Who is your primary audience?

Salvos Radio plays on so many stations, and the demographics are so different, but I think it would have to be 25 to 54 year olds. There’s an umbrella effect so we reach younger and older people as well.

What’s your greatest challenge?

My challenge is: how much of people’s stories do I let go to air, at the risk that there’s going to be kids listening? I’m really aware of what I keep in and what I keep out because there’s some really heavy stuff there. It’s a tough gig. If I were to make it a lot easier to listen to more stations would play it, but what would be the point? 

I see these people who are so broken, and my heart really wants to know their story—how they found freedom. I want to get that out there, so that other people who are struggling can hear it as well. 

Listen to Salvos Radio online or find out when it plays locally atsalvos.org.au/radio.