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Johnny Stone
Air Personality/Host "Looking Up To #1"

Win Morning Drive, Win The Day!




What do the highest rated Contemporary Christian Music radio stations have in common? A well put together and winning morning show! The saying in secular radio applies to CCM radio: “As the morning show goes, so goes the radio station.” If you win in mornings, the whole station wins. What that means to CCM radio is that winning in ratings means reaching more people for Christ.

The more compelling a Contemporary Christian Music radio station morning show is; the more effective the mission of the radio station will be. The effects of a good morning show will impact every other radio station day-part.


If you do mornings, you are a different creature, so to speak. You must work harder, you must do more research, you must reach out to the community more, you must be more plugged-in. You must be real, compassionate, focused, intelligent, alert, playful and above all else, a believer.

So, if you do a morning show on a CCM radio station, how do you win?

Show prep is vital. Read every newspaper in your market every day, 7 days a week. Read the stuff you aren’t even interested in, so you can speak and have an opinion on it when it comes up. Magazines? Yes, as many as you can afford. There are tons of websites that have great info for your show as well.


However, the best show prep is 24/7 real life and I’m sure you’ve heard that before, at least a million times. Here’s the rub: remembering what happened in your everyday life! Use your smart phone to take notes, or carry a small note pad. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is “Oh, I’ll remember that!”

I remember when we were at CMB in Orlando and Jeff Cruz, PD at WHMK FM was checking in at the hotel and he had a box fan with him! I asked him about it, and he said his dad always brought a box fan when they went out of town, and now he does it as well. I figured that it helps with cooling off and with the white noise of the fan, easier to drift off to sleep.

I pulled out my smart phone, typed in “When you go on vacation, what do you absolutely have to bring with you? My friend Jeff Cruz has to bring a box fan! His dad did it and now he does it!”

I would have totally forgotten that moment if I had not written it down. I used exactly what I typed into my phone to set up the topic, and BAM! What a great show that was! People calling in with the ONE thing that was a must have when they went on vacation.


Another example of real life show prep is something that happened when my beautiful wife, Stacey, who does the show with me and has for 15 years, said something to me. We were watching television and she said these four words:  “I’ve got some tweezers”. I’m thinking, what? What does THAT mean? She left the room, got the tweezers and proceeded to pull a hair that was growing out of my earlobe! When she was done, I wrote down what happened, and voila! Another great topic! What she said led to a fabulous topic of “Four words that always mean trouble”.

Always have a road map of the show, every day. The day before the show, I put together a two-page run sheet that has the times of the breaks and what we’ll talk about in those breaks on the first page. The second page has all the topics, any contest elements and other things for that days’ show on it. Give a copy to every member of the show. That way, everybody knows in advance what to expect and how to prepare for the break.

Phones are a must. If you are doing your morning show right, you’re using  phone calls. I believe that radio done right is the original Facebook; people connecting on commonalities. As my friends Tommy Kramer and John Frost say, “…FIND THE FIRST EXIT…” of the phone call and make the person calling the one with the out if possible. The “out” can be a funny comment, or something very profound. Forward momentum is what is important. One very important thing that Chuck Finney taught me is to save every phone call. It can be used again on air as well as in station promos.


Remember that you are talking to one person at a time. If you find yourself using the word “folk” or “folks” as in “…we have folks listening who are…” or “…we want to thank the folks that listen…”, stop it! When I hear that on a CCM radio station or any station for that matter, I’m usually in my car or at home listening, and as I look around, I don’t see any “folk” in there with me. Makes me think you’re not talking to ME, but to someone else…a “folk”. I can easily disregard what you are saying, because you are not saying it to me. Talk one on one. An easy way to remind yourself that you are speaking to one person is to put a picture of your target demo in front of you and while you’re on the air, talk to the picture, looking into the eyes. That should solve the “Hi folks” problem.

The discussion on PPM vs. Diary method when it comes to Arbitron ratings really boils down to this: GOOD RADIO IS GOOD RADIO. Touch an emotion. To be compelling, make your listener laugh, make them angry, tell them something they can take to work or school and tell somebody else. Be emotional, interesting, and informing. Say it because you mean it and say it with passion. You don’t have to have a “radio voice” in fact; it could work against you if you’re too smooth.  I could write a whole article on the differences between PPM and Diary and how to maximize reach but really, it boils down to being compelling and relevant. Entertain NOW!


Hire a talent coach. If you can’t afford one, listen to someone you like to listen to on the radio and invest the time to figure out what it is you like about them and make it yours. Notice the small nuances of that person and then be who you are while implementing it into your style. If you are real, honest, and get to the point quickly, you will connect with your listener.

Character building is important. Start with a strong center figure and add on to it. Budget has a lot to do with this. Perhaps you already have a team. If not, even a regular caller can become a member of the cast. Think of the TV show Parks And Recreation. You could identify with one of the characters on the show. As different as they are, we could all say- “Hey, that’s just like me!” That’s the goal-get your listener to identify with you or someone else on the show.


Most importantly, love what you do, do what you love!

When asked about “setting the bar” in broadcasting, the name Johnny Stone comes up in numerous conversations and articles. After many years of broadcasting in markets like New York City Metro, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, San Diego among others, Johnny is now putting his skills to use as a syndicated show host with Envision Radio Networks. With the Contemporary Christian Music show Looking Up To #1 and the country based Looking Up Country, Johnny is heard across the nation in markets big and small. “The shows reach people on a level I never thought possible,” states Johnny Stone. “The shows are designed to build listener loyalty to your radio station.”

Under his leadership at STAR 99.1, the station achieved its highest ever ratings and revenue stream as well as industry recognition with the NRB Radio Station of the Year award for 2007 & 2008, NAB Crystal Radio award and the CMB Echo Award for 2010. Johnny gives all the credit to great talents he has worked with at STAR 99.1, like David A Dein, Dawn Wheeler, Keith Stevens, Beth Bacall, Dave Moore and Bob Taylor.

In addition, Johnny has been nominated for Radio and Records Air Personality of the Year 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007-ECHO Awards nominated for Air Personality of the Year 2005, 2006, 2007-and for Program Director of the Year, Personality of the Year and Industry Impact of the Year for 2010. Nominated for AIR AWARD best syndicated weekend show from New York City for “LOOKING UP TO NUMBER ONE WITH JOHNNY STONE” 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010.

After serving for almost 9 years at STAR 99.1 as morning show host and Program Director, Johnny is looking for the next adventure God puts him on. Contact Johnny at