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Radio Interview

 

 

 

Dean O'Neal

VP/GM/PD
Afternoon co-host

WPOZ

Orlando

 

 

     

To contact Dean click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dean's Career Capsule
I landed my first paid radio job at age 15 in Kansas City at Oldies 1140-KLDY.  I have spent the last 29 years on the radio in Nashville, Daytona Beach and Orlando.  I was present at the birth of Z88.3 in August of 1995 and almost 15 years later, stand in awe of what God has done at the Z.

 I am Z88.3's Vice President/General Manager/Program Director and co-host of the afternoon show with Tracy Leek.  

 

1. Congratulations on the #1 ARB ranking in the Winter 2010 Orlando survey… What was your initial reaction when first getting the BIG news?

To be quite honest, I was in shock and amazement at what God has done with and through Z88.3.  He took a little FM signal in the non-com part of the dial playing music that is unfamiliar to most people and faithfully used it (and us) for His glory.  I was in a daze for the first day or two just getting my arms around it.

 

2. Overall what does this achievement mean to WPOZ?

At the end of the day, it means that we answered His call and did our job.  God entrusted us with a radio facility and some of radio's best air personalities, technical people and office staff.  The fruit of our labor is measured in several ways, ratings being one of them.  Making it to #1 reaffirms things that we already knew.  That relevant, transparent personalities living their lives out on the radio is important.  That being live and local with our full-timers on the weekends when the rest of the market is voice tracked is important.  That our commitment to severe weather coverage any time of the day or night is important.  That our obsession with choosing the music right for Orlando, Florida is important.  To quote my friend John Frost, who says he borrowed the phrase from someone else, "It isn't any one thing, but the sum of all the parts that makes a station win or lose."               

 

3. As far as we now this is the 1st time a Contemporary Christian formatted station has achieved a number one ranking overall in a top 50 market. What does this achievement mean to Christian radio in general?

It is proof that when CCM radio is done strategically and consistently, it can become every bit as mainstream in a market as Country, CHR or AC.  But the music can only get you some of the way.  I believe the tipping point is when a CCM station embraces a culture of serving the community in ways that radio does better than any other medium.  Severe weather, traffic and being the mouthpiece for other community-minded organizations are just a few of the ways that unleash the power of radio to serve your community.  In the process of serving the community you build up trust equity.  Then when they hear your personalities being transparent about their lives, warts and all...and letting their faith shine as they share about the real mountains and valleys of life, it is not just a radio station preaching at them.  It is their trusted friend on the radio, sharing real life with them...and in the process, having the opportunity to point them to Christ.  Serving others and pointing people to Christ are two things that a CCM station can do better than any other format.  

 

4. How do ratings affect a non-comm … such as WPOZ?

For Z88.3, the ratings are one of many forms of research.  They give us a glimpse of how effectively the station is reaching into the market we serve.  I take to heart that "To whom much is given, much is required."  The opportunity of radio is to be able to reach out to hundreds of thousands or even millions of people with the Good News of Jesus.  Ratings are just but one tool to evaluate how effectively you are doing that.  They can serve as verification that the mission and strategy of the station is on-track or a wake up call that the tactics being used are not accomplishing the strategy of the station (or the strategy as it exists is unattainable). 

 

5. Are there some factors that you think directly affected WPOZ’s ratings success?

First and foremost, I think our team of personalities works very hard to connect with “Kate” in very personal and tangible ways.  They are not just faceless voices on the radio.  They are real people with real families and real struggles like everyone else.  That kind of transparency is found on no other station in our market and makes Z88.3 stand out on the radio dial.  We have a connection with 'Kate' that goes beyond the music.

I believe that our commitment to severe weather coverage directly impacts our success.  While most other music stations are voice tracked and disconnected from what is going on, severe weather becomes our number 1 priority.  Not only are we the station that is Safe For The Little Ears, we work hard to provide the information that 'Kate' needs to help her to keep her family safe.  I believe that Z's ratings success is in large part about serving our community which is a seemingly lost art in the radio world.

 

6. What will WPOZ need to do to stay number one?

I don't know that the goal is to be fixated on being number one.  For us the goal has always been to do the best radio we possibly can by serving others and pointing them to Christ.  When you serve others, people get to see your heart and become attracted to you.  Once you establish trust you have a level of credibility when you point them to Christ.  When we stay faithful to that call, God has been faithful to bring many listeners to 88.3 on the dial...for His purposes.   

 

7. How do you think Christian Record labels can better serve Christian radio?

The attempt to change the law and force performance royalties on terrestrial radio and the Internet fees to Sound Exchange, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are potentially poised to slow down or extinguish Christian radio's ability to move and grow into the digital arena.  If that should happen it is lose/lose for all parties.  Our friends in the radio promotions departments are usually as far as I can get up the food chain at a record label.  They need to try and get our message up that food chain.  I understand that puts them in an uncomfortable spot, but their job is to be the liaison between the label and radio.  We need that to be a two-way street since they are our only touch point with the labels.  For many stations there is a lot at stake.

We also need to address the "wall of sound" that seems to have taken over as the new production/mastering standard of the industry.  Songs with little or no dynamic range left because they have been pushed to digital zero are slowly killing all of us.  The fatiguing "wall of sound" costs radio through listener tune-out and could ultimately have a negative impact on music sales.  If her favorite song also makes her ears bleed every time she hears it on the air, her passion level to buy it has got to be reduced.  Kudos to the labels who have already acknowledged this issue. Many have tried to come up with less smashed or unmastered versions of certain songs.  But for this battle to be won, the issue needs to be addressed in the recording studio sessions before mixing and mastering ever begins.  An unmastered version of a song whose tracks were all recorded pushed to digital zero is just a quieter version of the same fatiguing "wall of sound."  The distortion, if it appears on the original recorded track, is irreversible after the fact at any level.               

 

8. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing Christian radio today?

Royalties, remaining live and local in the face of shrinking revenue/donations and increasing consumer media choices 

 

9. What do you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air personality?

To live out our life and faith transparently on the air in ways that are relevant to 'Kate.'  Christian music radio can seize this moment in radio history with genuine live, local personalities up against the generic, voice tracked landscape that radio has become in most markets. 

 

10. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?

There are innovators (creating something new, untried) and strategists (experts in growing and guiding something into the future).  At most successful stations you see a combination of the two...  a strategist who is smart enough to surround him or herself with some innovators.  Some people/stations who fit that description in my mind include Jon Hull/KSBJ, Tom Greene/WMIT, Ty McFarland/KLove, Tate Luck, John Frost and Alan Mason. 

Want to put your big toe into the waters of innovation?  Invest in your air talent by hiring a talent coach like Tommy Kramer.  For many stations that would be something new and untried which could pay huge returns for your station (and the Kingdom).         

 

11. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?

Stations of any format that are live, local and relevant to their market will gain ground.  Those that follow in the footsteps of corporate, consolidated radio will lose ground and disappear into irrelevancy.  

 

 

 

 

 

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