comes from a military family, so when he'd completed his own
national service in the U.S. Navy, he started in radio, in a small
AM daytimer in Vancouver, Washington. From there he went through
several small markets such as Great Falls, MT and Fargo, ND until he
joined King Broadcasting Company's Portland radio station, KGW, in
1970. Two years later he became Program Director. In his 18 years
with King Broadcasting Company he was a Program Director in
Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and San Francisco, CA, as well as being
the groups Director of Research and Programming, and a Vice
President and General Manager.
In 1988 Alan began consulting radio stations in a wide variety of
formats, and was influential in establishing Smooth Jazz as a viable
format. In the early 90's he joined Paxson Communications as
Executive VIce President of Programming, while maintaining his
outside consulting business, and two years later asked John Frost
to join him at corporate, as Paxson expanded into 46 radio
When Bud Paxson sold his radio stations to Clear Channel
Communications Alan focused on consulting full time, and was joined
again by John Frost, where they began focusing on emerging Christian
music radio stations through Goodratings Strategic Services. As
well as being a partner in Goodratings, he's also Director Of
Research for EMF Broadcasting.
Alan's been married to his wife Becki for 39 years, and they
currently live in Lincoln, California. His other interests include
genealogy and political strategy. He was the recipient of the 2007
Rob Campbell Award, and the Radio & Retail Echo Award for industry
Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”?
We are doing
extensive coaching with talent to help them understand how to share
their faith in a natural way, in complete English. We realize the
traditional methods of ministry don't reach these people, so we make
our "radio station for Christians" strategy one the listeners can
learn from and grow with.
John Frost and I are teaming up with the Ron Hutchcraft ministries
to explore how talent can learn to speak their faith in a positive
way. No one involved will benefit financially - it's a ministry
effort to us, because it will result in a training exercise for
clients and non-clients alike.
Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?
There were very
few consistently successful Christian radio stations five years
ago. Only a few were able to draw a large audience and keep it.
The focus was almost entirely on the music, with a "music is the
message" strategy. Today the most successful Christian AC stations
realize the music is only the start, or basis of their success.
Talent, imaging, branding and marketing are just as important. Just
today, two of the stations we work with, KCMS in Seattle and WPOZ in
Orlando ranked third place 12+ in their respective Spring 2007
The format is
much stronger, but it's still at the beginning of its growth curve
and there's lots of headroom for growth in most markets. Five years
ago John Frost actually had new jokes, and Tate Luck was a radio
3. What do
you think are the main characteristics of today's Christian radio
Overall, the are
able to balance art and science. Radio isn't all numbers, but it
isn't all doing what feels right either. Today's PD had better
understand the value of strategy, know how to motivate and
accelerate their airstaff, and know how to collaborate with the
other department heads.
criteria do you require for a song to be played on your station?
We leave that
entirely to the station. We don't have lists of songs you should
add, and we don't make recommendations. New music is a strategic
decision for each individual market, and the local people know best.
Oh yes, it must also be musical.
kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?
The kind people
talk about. The ones that engage the listeners, further involving
them with the station. The ones that use creativity and not just
the 9th caller.
I am especially
fond of the "Make a donation to Alan Mason" promotion, where every
radio station in America asks each listener to send Alan $5.00.
6. How do
you think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?
Our format has
some of the best label people I've worked with in my over 40 years.
Rarely have ideas and suggestions been rejected, and some have even
taken the time to learn more about out business, so they can help.
7. In your
opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?
At the top is
not understanding that being the tallest midget is not a win.
I see far too
many instances of radio stations who set the bar so low that when
the get over it, they haven't won anything. We also continue to have
a challenge with getting listeners to take us to work with them, and
we're continually mistaking loyalty to the format with loyalty to
continues to have a problem with the water hazard on any golf course
he plays, but that will never change.
8. What do
you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air
To engage the
listener in a way that moves them from being a passive listener to
an active participant in the radio station. Either that or say the
slogan first thing when coming out of a song, then do the horoscope
for secular artists, tell a joke from the same "prep sheet" half the
country uses, and take 45 seconds to say 15 seconds worth of
(if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators
What's very cool
is that there are now so many of them. KSBJ continues to grow and
try new things to keep itself strong, and relative newcomers like
WPOZ keep moving the bar higher. One of my personal favorites,
through, because he is fearless about trying new things that are
strategically viable, is Scott Valentine at KCMS. But there are so
many more that it's constantly exciting.
do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
There should be
a 25-54 adult top five ranking in every major market, and the format
will be fully established as a "player" in many markets. That means
it will move from the "What else can we do" level to as valid as
country to AC
Then we can take
on the challenge of fewer of the 25-34's listening to radio, and
what Internet radio means through the eyes of the listener.