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Radio Interview

 

 

 

John Frost

 

Consultant

 

Goodratings Strategic Services

 

     

To contact John click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

John's Career Capsule
John is a partner in Goodratings Strategic Services, and 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 38 year broadcast career.  John was recognized by Radio and Records’ magazine as one of the top air talent in America while at KHTR in St. Louis in the early 80’s.  
 
Prior to joining Goodratings’ partner Alan Mason in 1999, John serviced as Vice President for Paxson Communications’ 47-station group in West Palm Beach.  He stayed with Paxson through the transition of the company to launch the PAX TV network, where his primary job was watching Love Boat reruns.  
 
Before being promoted to VP of programming in 1996, John was Operations Manager for Paxson’s five station cluster in Orlando, Florida.  It was at AC Magic 107.7 that John and consultant Alan Mason launched the first family values, “safe for the family” strategy, resulting in Paxson Communications’ first 12+ and #1 25-54 station.  Bud Paxson, Chairman of Paxson Communications and very tall fellow, cites the success of family values radio as a catalyst for his dream of a family friendly television network.  “If not for John Frost….” Mr. Paxson would oft be heard to mutter as he wandered the hallways in his bath slippers.  
 
In the last decade, Mr. Frost has been involved in the dramatic growth of Contemporary Christian radio, bringing mainstream programming strategies and research principles to help create and develop numerous market leading stations. Each of the four stations that won the GMA station of the year award in 2009 are stations with whom John and Alan work.  

John was recognized in 2008 by Radio and Records and in 2006 by Christian Radio Weekly as one of the most influential people in the Christian music industry.  The Gospel Music Association honored John in 2004 with the Scott Campbell industry achievement award, which partner Alan Mason also received in 2007.  
 
John has teamed up with long time Christian broadcasting visionary Joe Battaglia to form Battaglia-Frost Creative Productions, Inc., a company designed to bring high quality, high ministry impact programming to radio stations free of cost to the station.  The internationally heard three hour weekend worship music show “Don Moen and Friends”, Steve Brown’s “You Think About That”, and leadership guru Ken Blanchard’s “Lead Like Jesus” are among their initial projects.   
 
Never one to shy away from a microphone and an avid baseball fan fluent in several languages, John has served for the past eleven seasons as the semi-professional public address announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals at Spring Training at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, as well as the Cardinals’ and Florida Marlins’ minor league teams.   
 


 

1. How has Christian Radio evolved over the last few years?

Ten years ago there were few Christian radio stations that had comparable audiences to mainstream rock, pop, or country stations.  Christian radio was generally perceived to be subpar.  Now there are Christian radio stations all over the country that lead their markets and target demographics.  This has happened foundationally by stations understanding what is meaningful to their listeners and potential listeners and focusing on those things.  Many stations diffuse their good efforts with dozens of projects that take time and energy away from the main things.   The station becomes too busy being busy and never reaches excellence in any area that would impact their listeners and community.  The discipline of focusing on the most important things isn’t fun but it is vital in creating a meaningful radio station.  There is no format that is worse when done poorly, nor is there one that is as compelling when done well.   

 

2. In what major ways has Christian Radio been affected due to the economic situation?

In some ways Christian radio has weathered the economic downturn better because mainstream stations are commonly owned by publicly traded companies which are more directly affected by the panic on Wall Street.   Many Christian radio companies or ministries have been able to look past the short term “make the quarter” mindset of the public companies and focus on sound business principles and building relationships.  In times of need people often turn to God which has created a ministry opportunity that many stations have responded to.   Certainly donor driven stations are impacted by the financial struggles of individuals but many stations have affectively communicated their vision and purpose in helping people through tough times.   No one ever gets tired of being encouraged and this format has been an important source of encouragement at a time where bad news is easily found on other formats.   

 

3. How does a consultant best benefit a station?

Every organization experiences “The Curse of Knowledge” where it is impossible for those with knowledge to imagine what it’s like to lack that knowledge.  All inside the station know too much about the station to even be able to understand what a brand new listener perceives.   Every air talent has heard every hour of every show they’ve ever done.   A new listener only hears that first break which may determine whether they ever listen again.  Many programmers or managers have been at the station since the day it signed on the air and perceive their station with its entire history as framework.   I recall being given a tour of a station I was beginning to work with and hearing wonderful stories about how the people of the town lobbied for a Christian station and how organizations and churches pulled together to give them a facility and supplies to get on the air.  When I asked them why this amazing story was never on the air  they were stunned.  For the first time they realized that the remarkable birth story of their station was so familiar to them they just assumed everyone knew it and had never considered sharing it with new listeners.   People often remark how much my younger daughter and I look alike.  She and I can look in the mirror or at family pictures and entirely miss the resemblance.   And yet a perfect stranger sees it so strongly that it is one of the first things they comment on.   A program director or manager cannot lead a station where it has never been unless they understand the reality of its current strengths and weaknesses and have dependable counsel that can share the successes and mistakes of others who have traveled the same road.   Expertise and experience have value in every business, ministry, or organization.   Resisting having that expertise on your team simply results in the likelihood that you’ll make more mistakes, have more frequent nose bleeds, and slow down the process in ways that simply are not necessary.   Every time I write a check to my CPA I’m reminded how grateful I am that I’m using his expertise and not wasting my Saturday morning reading the latest Tax Code revisions.    

 

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

Our listeners want to belong to something of significance and make a difference in their community and around the world.   Our stations can be “leaders of a tribe”, communicating with that tribe and connecting the tribe to each other.  We should quit thinking of ourselves as radio stations with a tower and 75 mile radius and begin to think of ourselves as the largest church in town.  Our stations can mobilize a force for good in our community, thereby enriching lives, and sharing the Gospel message with our actions.   

 

6. Do you think there will be more syndication in Christian radio or less in the near future?

Syndication is most useful if it provides relevant and compelling content that the radio station could not create on its own.  Syndication is not helpful if you’re choosing from a list of shows or features that are not in keeping your station’s mission, values, or listener expectations.  The days of a program producer viewing the radio station strictly as a distribution outlet for their own ministry needs are over.  Today’s market leading Christian music stations need strategic partners that provide resources to help meet the station’s own strategic objectives not detract from them.   Where the syndicator and the station’s strategy come together the relationship can be productive for both.       

 

7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing a local Christian radio station that’s up against a network?

Networks are neither good nor bad. The main thing the listener cares about is “how does this affect my life?”  Any station, local or network, can choose to be irrelevant and uninteresting.   In a competitive situation simply ask what your station can do that is meaningful to your listener in a way that is distinct from their other choices. Then devote yourself to doing that to the best of your ability.  The more similar the products the more important the differences.   

 

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

The air talent on Christian radio has a critically important role because the first time listener knows very little about the music we play, unlike country, rock, or pop. The talent, then, becomes the “tour guide” to welcome someone into a new environment (think of the “You are Here” map at the mall), treat you like a friend (most people attend a new church for the first time because of a friend), and to speak into your life in ways that are meaningful and interesting.   Our format is about the most important things of a listener’s life—their faith, family, and community.  All we have to do is tell their story in a way that is compelling radio.   

 

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

Stations that are market leaders have several things in common.  1) The ability to focus their resources on the things that make the biggest difference.   2) The ability to share the vision so that the entire team is engaged and motivated.   3) Create a culture of creativity and a willingness to take risks so that the station remains interesting and engaging.  

For creating an inviting and interesting listening environment I appreciate what Spirit 105-3 in Seattle and New Life 91.9 in Charlotte.   
For the ability to articulate a vision and engage the team, I’m amazed at the leadership at Z88.3 in Orlando and The Fish in Atlanta.  
For serving the community and uniting its listeners for a cause, KTIS in Minneapolis-St. Paul, 88.3 The Wind in Springfield, KSBJ in Houston, and KTSY in Boise.   
For the leadership in engaging new tools of research and marketing, I appreciate what WGTS in Washington, D.C., and the Z in Orlando are doing.
For the willingness to forge a new path and create personalities that transcend the appeal of the music, I salute WAY-FM, Scott and Sam, and the CIU group WRCM/WMHK in the Carolinas.     
For becoming legendary to multiple generations of listeners I highly value the work of KLTY in Dallas, KSBJ in Houston, and KTIS in Minneapolis-St. Paul.   

Creating great radio is hard work.  It requires learning how the medium of radio works, understanding the tastes and values of your listeners, and adopting the discipline necessary to make things happen.  Creating great Christian radio involves a revolutionary paradigm shift---from that of serving those inside to serving your listeners and community.  

I’ll quote my friend Dean O’Neal who shared with me, “He didn’t give us church talent, nor preaching talent, or crusade talent.  He gave us radio talent to be used to maximize the reach and impact of a very special tool called a radio station.  Love Christ, serve others, point them back to Christ doing compelling, relevant radio.  So simple at its core and yet the hardest thing for most to do.”  


 

 

 

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