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Radio Interview


Johnny Stone

Program Director/Morning Personality WAWZ New York

Host Of The Syndicated Show "Looking Up To #1"





Johnnys' Career Capsule
I've been in secular radio for most of my career, doing mornings. I was at the first Young Country station in Dallas/Fort Worth. Also, KSON in San Diego and WYAY in Atlanta. All Country stations. People say that CCM music is Country without the twang. I kind of agree with that. I joined 106.7 The Fish in Chicago at the launch of the station in 2000. Now I do mornings and am the program director at STAR 99.1 in New York. (In August 2003 Johnny became host of the new Christian show called "Looking up to #1" syndicated by Superadio. Click here for more info.) 
1. How did you wind up at WAWZ?

I was in Chicago at The Fish and very comfortable. John Frost, with Audience Development told me about STAR 99.1 in New York and that he was working with it. I thought it was really cool that a CCM station was launching in NY. However, they already had a morning show, so I prayed for the success of the station that it would touch lives of people in the New York area. Several months later, the morning slot was open and I was approached. I prayed about it and felt a strong calling to be here. Well, here I am! God's Hand.

2. What are the challenges that you face in your current programming position?

The challenge is to bring a mainstream thought process to the station while at the same time honoring God and having fun. Everything from promotions to music to sales to contesting needs to be built so that it is listener friendly. There has never been a station like this in New York, so the music to lots of people is unfamiliar. We have a need to train our listeners about this music. Once they listen to it, they love it.


3.How do you make your station competitive in America's largest radio market?

Our presentation on air must be as good, if not better, than anything else on the dial in New York. Every time the mic is cracked open, the on-air personalities on STAR 99.1 entertain. We are all about pop culture, using the filter of being safe for the whole family. I'd like to use this forum to say that I have some of the best talent in CCM radio working for me. Scott Taylor, Beth Bacall and Keith Stevens are real pros!!

4. What is the criteria that determines if a song receives airplay on your station?

Any song that makes it on the playlist forces it's way on it. That's something that Chuck Knapp at KTIS in the Twin Cities taught me. The song must be so big that it can't be ignored! He taught me that when we worked at KS95 in the Twin Cities, a secular AC station.

5. What kind of promotions work best for your station?

Promotions that work great are the ones that put us in front of our listeners. Every time that we shake a hand or kiss a baby is a vote for us. Concerts are always winners, like Autumn Blaze with Third Day. We sold out Continental Airlines Arena in the Meadowlands. We were in front of 15,000 people. Of course, bumper stickers and t-shirts and stuff like that is wonderful. We haven't done billboards and TV yet, so stay tuned for that!!

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

When working with promoters, strive to get venues other than churches. Churches are great, but if record companies want to grow this music, more mainstream thinking has to be used. Curb records is doing a great job of it, as others are. MARKET, MARKET, MARKET! Record companies have a huge stake in the success of this music, so there must be more management of where the concerts are held.

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

Don't be afraid of success. Too many Christian radio stations think that if you win, you're not doing God's work, that if you win you're being too materialistic. I beg to differ. We live IN this world, not OF it. I believe that if you win, you are spreading the word of our Savior to more people. Get out there and promote and act like you MUST win! Get some ratings while honoring God.

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

Be real. Have fun. Draw an emotion from your listener.

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

I think all the Salem Fish stations are doing an absolutely fantastic job. Chuck Finney is their national PD and deserves all the credit in the world for what he's doing, not just for the Fish stations, but for his local one in Dallas/Fort Worth, KLTY as well. KTIS in the Twin Cities, KSBJ in Houston, the WAY FM group, KTSY in Boise, there are so many, and I know that I'll be reading this a week from now saying to myself that I forgot to mention about a dozen more.

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

Right now I can see the mountain top. The format will do well. However, CCM programmers, myself included, must keep working to make this format widely accepted. I know it can and will happen. When you look at television these days all you see is sex and violence and who can ridicule and embarrass someone else the most. The pendulum will swing and when it does, we will be there. We'll be entertaining, relevant to the desired lifestyle and we'll have really cool music too! The values that this country is based on will become the norm instead of the ostracized. With God's hand guiding us, we will not be held at arms' length. How do we get there? See above.



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