Cross Rhythms is a Christian media organisation based in Stoke-on-Trent, England. It operates an FM and online radio station, produces radio shows sent internationally, and its website has resources on contemporary Christian music.
The roots of what was to become Cross Rhythms go back to two separate sources which merged in 1991. In 1983, broadcaster Chris Cole started a 30-minute weekly Christian music radio show on Plymouth Sound FM, an Independent Local Radio station in Plymouth. Originally titled The Solid Rock of Jesus Christ, the programme aired on Sunday evenings. It grew into a one-hour programme, and became one of the most listened to programmaes in its time slot in South Devon. The show continued until 1996.
Meanwhile, in May 1990, music journalist Tony Cummings founded the magazine Cross Rhythms Magazine, the first use of the name Cross Rhythms. In 1991, publication of the magazine was taken over by Cole's publishing company, Cornerstone House. The radio show was renamed the Cross Rhythms Experience in 1992 and became a syndicated show in 1993.
Also in 1991, Cross Rhythms took over the organisation and management of what had previously been the Umberleigh Rock Gospel Festival. The event was renamed to the Cross Rhythms Festival, and continued to be held annually until 2003. By 1995 the magazine had a readership of about 15,000.
A major change in emphasis occurred in 1998 when Cross Rhythms, in partnership with United Christian Broadcasters, launched a satellite radio channel broadcasting to the UK and Europe via the Sky Television network. At the same time, Cross Rhythms moved base from Plymouth to Stoke-on-Trent to share facilities with UCB. The partnership continued until 2002, when Cross Rhythms was granted a pilot licence for a new form of local radio, then called Access Radio but now known as Community Radio. Cross Rhythms City Radio went on air in February 2002.
With the focus of the organisation changing to a greater emphasis on radio, the last Cross Rhythms Festival to bear the name was held in 2003 and Cross Rhythms Magazine ceased publication in 2005. The festival was subsequently re-launched as a partnership with Gilead Foundations under the new name of the Arrow Festival. The editorial content of the magazine is now carried by the Cross Rhythms Website, one of the largest Christian media websites in the UK – Google analytics advise that almost 1 million individuals visited the site in 2008. In order to help finance the expansion of the radio aspect of the organisation, Cross Rhythms Direct was launched in 2003 as an online Christian music shop and is now one of the UK's leading Christian music retailers. It has a chart system and the highest selling artists include Chris Tomlin, Lou Fellingham, Soul Survivor[disambiguation needed] and Hillsong.
As well as operating Cross Rhythms City Radio and the Cross Rhythms website, which has an extensive review section of Christian music releases, and a wide range of life articles by a selection of writers including Mal Fletcher and Paul Poulton, Cross Rhythms also provides syndicated radio programming for a number of other radio stations, mostly community based, and music review content for several publications including the UK Christian retail trade magazine Christian Marketplace.
The Cross Rhythms Brand
The name "Cross Rhythms" is also used by two other UK community radio stations, Cross Rhythms Plymouth - officially launched on 29 March 2007 and Cross Rhythms Teesside, officially launched on 27 April 2008. Although using the name, these stations are under separate ownership as required by Ofcom regulations. The use of the Cross Rhythms brand is part of a franchise agreement whereby the new stations will take syndicated programming from Cross Rhythms outside their own core broadcasting hours while retaining full editorial independence.