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John Frost

The top 10 reasons stations aren’t successful




I’m told that these weekly Frost Advisories are the most widely read programming thing around in the format these days.  My guess is that this one will top them all as people see their own situation and secretly pass along to their teammates with a “See, I told you so!”  

Buckle your seat belt!   

#10-  Success is never defined.  It’s easy to think yourself successful as long as that remains vague and without form. 

"One reason we’re able to believe that we’re better-than-average leaders and drivers and spouses and team players (and radio stations) is that we’re defining those terms in ways that flatter us.  The ambiguity in terms like “leader” or “team player” enables our illusion.  That’s why it’s so much harder for us to fancy ourselves better-than-average pole vaulters.”   Chip and Dan Heath, “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.”  

#9-  Lack of vision. This year is the same as last year is the same as next year.  If you don’t know where you’re going any road will lead you there. 

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” Jack Welch  

#8-  Fear of change.  We crave familiarity.  We’ll even borrow someone else’s if necessary.  “What do you like here?” we ask at a new restaurant.  The most familiar is always the status quo, which is deadly for change.   

“The unsuccessful person is burdened by learning, and prefers to walk down familiar paths. Their distaste for learning stunts their growth and limits their influence.” - John Maxwell



#7  Lack of encouragement.  Too often people are thrown into jobs, left alone, and spoken to only when they need correction.  How much more rewarding our work would be if we were encouraged in the things that help the station fulfill its purpose and achieve its goals.  We know this as human beings and as parents but we often fail to encourage at work.  


    "Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in      themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish." —Sam Walton


             “The more I’m exposed to the inner workings of other high capacity teams, the more I see the consequences of encouragement given…and  encouragement withheld.  Support matters.”  Mark Beeson 



#6  Lack of training.  For the last several years at CMB’s Momentum I have participated in coaching a handful of talent that desire to grow in their craft.  Without exception each one begins by sharing they get little help at their local station.  They are hungry to learn and grow.  My friend Nelson at The Fish in Portland, a 20 plus year veteran of Portland morning radio, told me he had learned more in his first years at The Fish than all his many years in mainstream radio.  


    “In life we must be willing to coach and be coached, either one alone will leave us empty.”  David L. Cook       “Golf’s Sacred Journey”  


                  “It is impossible to learn what is outside ourselves from inside ourselves.”  Joseph P. Battaglia 



#5.  Silos.  The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.  I’ve heard of one station where programming decisions are regularly made without the program director even present.   


    "Functionally, silos form and operate when the people in one area simply want to do what they do, the way     they want to do it without thinking about whether what they’re doing is going to effect anyone else. Or how.     They just act, irrespective of what the impact may be outside their own workspace. And it’s happening at     every level”.  F. John Rey


I know of one organization that would be transformed if only one simple thing changed—that the people most qualified to make a decision in a certain area actually made that decision.   


Here’s #3 on the countdown:  


Many general managers, program directors and board of directors simply don’t understand what makes the format successful in the first place.  


Consider this:  

Of the 1,075 Christian radio stations in the USA, only half a dozen have as many as 400,000 listeners.  Less than twice that rank in the top five in their market.  


While there are certainly many ways to define success if one views the format as just a bunch of Christian songs by a bunch of Christian singers with a bunch of Christian disc jockeys saying a bunch of Christian stuff they won’t have many listeners.    




To be really successful a station must understand a bigger idea that transcends the nuts and bolts of most programming conversations.  


People don’t listen primarily because of who you are; they listen because of who they are!  


When you understand that, the rest is just details.*  


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 joined Goodratings’ partner Alan Mason in 1999.


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