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John Frost

Relevant, then Interesting





One of the quickest ways to focus your radio station and give your air talent an objective way of discerning what to talk about on the air is the simple rule of

By choosing only content that is relevant to your listener forces the talent to put the listener ahead of themselves.   This profound realignment of priorities changes the paradigm from what is interesting to the talent to what is relevant to the listener.   In other words, this puts you in the position of serving your listener’s interests and expectations, quite an appropriate mindset, I’d say, for a Christian radio station.  

Hearing irrelevant content on the air is the result of air talent first looking for things that are “interesting” and then trying to make them relevant (if at all).  That is how one ends up hearing things like Shirley Temple’s birthday, National Pickle Week, and what I did on my summer vacation.   Without an objective filter of relevance to the listener, the talent resorts to becoming sort of a content assembly line, paying little attention to whether what they say enhances the listener’s experience or fulfills their expectations of the station.  Ego rears its ugly head when we assume that the listener will care about anything we decide to talk about.  It’s not true in life and it’s certainly not true in radio listening with a push button an arm’s length away.  Ask anyone who has watched kids squirm during a children’s sermon, or adults squirm as it gets dangerously close to lunch and kick off time.  Or consider how quickly you change the TV channels with remote in hand as you scan pass programs that aren’t relevant to your specific interests.   

As a budding 23 year old disc jockey I was hired at my first “big” station where everyone on the air was better than me.   Frankly, they were all so much better that my insecurities, all air talent have them, had me convinced that when I showed up in my U-Haul trailer with my bean bag chair and albums I would be greeted at the station door with the news that they had me confused with someone else and had actually hired me by mistake.  I’m not making this up, as Dave Barry would say.  After the ink on my deal was securely dried, I got up the courage to ask my new PD, “Why in the world did you hire me?”  He smiled and responded, “It was one break you did on your audition tape.”  He had heard me give a phone number on a throwaway PSA followed by, “you might want to write that down on the dust on your dashboard.”   That one unassuming break told my soon to be first programming mentor what he needed to know about this young air talent: that anyone who thinks about what his listener is doing while on the air is someone who was ready to learn all the other stuff he was ready to teach me.   I heard that refrain repeated decades later in Chris Rice’s “Other Side of the Radio.”   


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.