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
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
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.
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
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