The Christian Radio Homepage

column archive





Share |

John Frost

My New Year’s resolutions for the
Contemporary Christian format




Resolution #1:  Embrace learning

Make growth a part of your station culture.  If all we know is what we have known we can never achieve greater impact.   I’ve heard so many people say, “no one has ever taught me this before.”  In a format where creating a connection to new listeners is achieved primarily through the air talent it is a shame that training isn’t a higher priority.   

“You can’t make someone grow.  You can only provide the right climate for growth and hope it sticks.   My experience is that it always starts with the general manager.  To allow for station and individual growth one has to step outside their own preferences and comfort zone.”  Joe Battaglia


Resolution #2:  Understand that relevance is the path to connecting; connecting is the path to growth

“Relevancy Drives Connection.  Us and me is everything; attachment and self-esteem are the motivations that work best. Differentiation from rivals doesn't by itself deliver anything on behalf of your target market.”

People will not listen to you talk about things that aren’t relevant to them.   In a world of choice people choose, and they’ll choose to go away.  Want fans?  Know your listeners and be relevant to their lives.   


Resolution #3:  Understand how the medium of radio works

“He didn't give us Church talent, not 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 stations to ‘get’.”  Dean O’Neal  

Many decision makers in Christian radio have a background in something other than the medium of radio, whether that be in sales or fundraising, the non-profit world, or church or academia.  Each of these areas has best business practices that may be different from the way radio works.  Become students of the medium of radio.  


Resolution #4:  Strive for excellence.  Keep your standards high.  

“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 I hear the word ‘ministry’ as a serious charge for the station’s highest and best use to reach people for Christ and impact the community for good.  I think the reason for that is simple.  Creating great radio is hard work, and many people gravitate to what is comfortable.  It requires that every staff member be engaged with the product, which means actually listening to it.  (I’ve found this lack of interest in actually listening to the station in no other format).  It requires sometimes staying after five, and investing in the things that will grow the station.   Christian radio can do better than hiring people for $7 an hour and telling them to be religious on the air.”  


Resolution #5:  Understand that you are a leader of tribe; a group of people connected by distinct values and perspective.   

A vital brand has a "relationship" with loyal users not unlike a healthy relationship between two people.

“If a radio station can connect to an audience in as personal and intimate level...then mountains can be moved. I would venture to say also that the connection....would be the station building the bridge, and encouraging the listener over that bridge toward a closer relationship with Christ. Any radio station that boasts that 'they' change lives is pridefully fooling themselves. Only God changes lives, and sometimes it's through meager human vessels like us. A mindset of humility and grace has always ministered to me much more than a mindset of 'look how much I can help you'.  Daniel Heidt, my guitar teacher and friend


Resolution #6:  Growth is not an option.  Invest in it.

“It’s not in the budget.”  Too often we hear of the budget being used as an excuse not to invest.  However, I know of one company where any expense that is tied to growth is evaluated separately than those that simply maintain the status quo.  

“Good to Great” author Jim Collins says, “In a good-to-great transformation, budgeting is a discipline to decide which arenas should be fully funded and which should not be funded at all.  In other words, the budgeting process is not about figuring out how much each activity gets, but about determining which activities best support the Hedgehog Concept and should be fully strengthened and which should be eliminated entirely.”  


Resolution #7:  Encourage your teammates

I’ve had some people say to me that they never receive a word of encouragement from their coworkers or supervisors, even in ministry organizations.  My daughter is a teacher of special needs children.  She regularly shares stories about how affirming the children’s positive actions is the most effective teaching technique.  

“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


Resolution #8:   Beware the silo  

People who resist change and growth often build silos to avoid accountability.   

"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

Invest in resources and systems that help give your team a broader perspective.  Learn from the successes and failures of others.  It is impossible to learn what is outside ourselves from inside ourselves.


Resolution #9:  If you’re standing still the world is passing you by  

Our stations don’t operate in a vacuum.   Your listeners have more media options than ever before and it is easier than ever for you to be crowded out of the marketplace.   

“What broadcasters never seem to get is that folks think radio is less important nowadays because so much other stuff is more important.  And “importance” is an outcome of consumer passion, not a byproduct of radio industry marketing and PR.

Do things that make consumers love you, stay ever so slightly ahead of their desires, put your consumer strategy before your corporate one
.” Mark Ramsey


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.