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Radio Interview

                                     

John Frost

Consultant

Goodratings Strategic Services

 

 

John's Career Capsule
John Frost, partner in Goodratings Strategic Services, has been a successful major market disc jockey and program director for such companies as CBS, Cap Cities, Westinghouse, Sandusky, Gannett, and Alliance during his 35 year broadcast career.
 
Prior to joining partner Alan Mason in 1999, John serviced as Vice President of Programming for Paxson Communications’ 47-station group in Florida, and then with the PAX TV network.  He was on the cutting edge of the Smooth Jazz format (The Oasis in Dallas) and Young Country, before moving to Orlando to oversee the programming on Paxson’s five stations, including the launch of all sports station 540 The Team. 

In 2004, John was recognized by CRW, a Christian radio and retail trade magazine, as one of the 50 most influential people in Christian music.  The Gospel Music Association honored John in 2004 with the Scott Campbell industry achievement award, which his partner Alan Mason also received in 2007.   

Ever comfortable behind the microphone and an avid baseball fan, John is also the semi-professional public address announcer in spring training for the St. Louis Cardinals, as well as the Cardinals and Florida Marlins minor league teams.  

 

1. Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”? 

They are not mutually exclusive.  “Ministry” is ultimately reaching people for Christ which correlates to audience growth which is “good business”.  A former boss of mine used to say, “We can do more good if we are good.”   Healthy, growing radio stations are often better at ministering to people because they understand the strategies and processes you have to go through to get effective performance from your team. 

 

2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today, from 5 years ago?

Arbitron data says that Christian music radio has grown by 189% in the last ten years, by far the fastest growing format.  That growth is fueled by strategic thinking by more and more organizations, adopting training principles for air talent and programmers, and utilizing outside resources to augment internal efforts.  This growth has also magnified the need for talent and programmers that are trained and developed.  Lack of talent in both areas is by far the biggest obstacle the format now faces. 

 

3. What do you think are the main characteristics of today’s Christian radio PD?

A successful PD needs to understand how his/her job fits into the bigger picture of the purpose and mission of the organization, have the people skills to build and lead a team, and have the technical skills of designing a radio station’s structure to audience growth.  Most PD’s in the format have very little training, which often results in their just winging it and basing their programming decisions on a subjective evaluation of what they think sounds good.

 

4. What criteria are required for a song to be played on Christian Radio?

Everyone’s favorite radio station is the station that plays their favorite music.  A successful station is one that implements systems to efficiently expose the favorite songs to the station fans, while also allowing new listeners to become familiar with the music so they, too, can become fans.  

 

5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?

Promotions need to accomplish one of three goals: to increase the station’s audience, to reinforce the brand, identity or purpose of the station, or to help people listen more frequently.  

 

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

Offer stations songs with powerful messages that listeners will love, and creatively work with station to connect listeners to the music and the music makers for a remarkable experience.  Many labels are very helpful to stations.  

 

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

The lack of training of programmers and talent, and lack of a desire for excellence. 

I often hear “ministry” used as an excuse to put something on the air that is poorly produced or isn’t relevant or interesting, but seldom do I hear “ministry” as a serious charge for the  station’s highest and best use to reach people for Christ and impact a  community for good.  I think the reason for that is simple. Creating great radio is hard work.  It requires learning how the medium of radio works; understanding the tastes, interests, and values of your  listeners; and having the discipline to focus only on what your station does  best. Creating great Christian radio involves a revolutionary paradigm shift--from that of serving those inside the radio station,  to serving your listeners and  your community.

 

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

To help make the station more than just a utility that plays a bunch of songs. Their performance and content needs to help create a friendship with station fans by reflecting their tastes, interests, and values, and build a bridge to new listeners by creating a welcoming, familiar listening environment.   

 

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

I have worked with the WAY-FM group for almost ten years and they are constantly evaluating how to do things better and to become more effective.  They have strong leadership that believes in vision, strategic thinking, and giving their people the tools they need.  Certainly, I would have to celebrate the accomplishments of my friends Jim Hoge and Dean O’Neal and their team at Z88.3 in Orlando, and Scott Valentine and his team at Spirit 105.3 in Seattle.  I mention those two stations specifically because of Z88.3’s growth and audience size in a medium size market (compare their cume to stations in significantly larger markets) and KCMS for impacting a city that is heavily unchurched.  I also need to include John Konrad of WGTS in Washington, D.C., for its impact and growth in our nation’s capitol, and his leadership during a very challenging time of the threat of the station being sold.  Each of these stations also invests in the development of their people! 

 

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

The future is bright if we face the changing world of terrestrial radio and understand how to reach a new generation of people who grew up without radio being a significant part of their lives.  Faith will always be relevant.  We must be willing to communicate faith in new, creative, and relevant ways to those we’re trying to reach. 

 

 

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