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Radio Interview



Dean O'Neal

OM/PD/Air Talent



First paycheck in 1980 at age 15 at Oldies 1140-KLDY/AOR 106.5-KKCI in Kansas City. Spent almost 7 years at Southern Gospel 1090-KEXS, Kansas City. Got tired of snow and -30 degree winters in 1987 and relocated to Central Florida and AC Christian 1450-WMFJ, Daytona Beach. The next 9 years took me to Southern Gospel 1310-WYND, Soft AC Magic 107.7, Oldies Cool 105.9, Inspo/teaching Joyful 95.3-WTLN, the cockpit of a Cessna 172 airplane doing traffic reports and the start up of Z88.3. In 1996 joined the Reach Satellite Network in Nashville as GM and oversaw the launch of flagship FM stations Solid Gospel 105 WBOZ/WVRY.  Returned to Z88.3 in October of 1997 as PD/OM/Afternoons

1. How did God put you in His service at Z88.3?

In 1988 God brought me to 1310-WYND and GM Jim Hoge.  We sat in a Taco Bell one night and drew up plans for a CCM station on a napkin.  At the time we had no idea what God had planned but the seed was certainly planted that night.  After 7 years of blood, sweat, tears and every dime to his name, Jim Hoge (Z88.3 Founder/President/GM) hit the on switch to the Z88.3 transmitter in August of 1995.  He made me Z88.3's PD.  God brought us together 7 years before the fact knowing what a team we would make.  Over those 7 years God grew both Jim and me professionally, personally and spiritually.  We also became best of friends.  

2. What is the most fulfilling aspect to you personally about Christian radio?

My job and my ministry are one.  My staff and I get to do killer radio in one of the most livable cities in America and God gets all the glory!  How fulfilling is that!

3.What do you think is the "reason" for the tremendous success of Z88.3?

God has assembled a team of incredibly talented people who are sold out on doing great radio for HIM.  Jim Hoge's inspired leadership, John Frost's consulting, coaching and research, the on-air talents of Scott W. Smith, Lisa Williams, Melony McKaye, Tim Wolf, Theresa Ross, Jim Davis and Doug Hughs, station voice Craig Williams, plus the behind the scenes support of Judy, Debbie, Cathy, Carrie, Alana, Ovie, Randy and Mark.  I guess that was a long winded way of saying that God is the reason behind the success of Z88.3.  He assembled the troops that make it happen.     

4. Tell us about the WPOZ morning show?

Scott and Lisa are two of the most talented air personalities I have ever had the privilege to work with.  Their show is designed to be positive, entertaining and encouraging while meeting the informational needs of our target in the morning.  No Christianese, just two real people living out their lives (and their faith) on the radio.   

5. How is the Orlando Christian market unique?

We are a melting pot of cultures.  A large Hispanic/Catholic influence, a large Southern Baptist contingent and many large non-denominational churches make up the Central Florida landscape.  Z88.3 works to be a unifying force in the community. We also have almost 1 million people a week stepping out of planes, cars and buses on vacation...many from foreign countries where Christianity is illegal. It is so exciting to know that for some of them, the first time they will hear of the Good News of Jesus will be in a song that was playing on the Z in their rental car or hotel room! 

6. When searching for new CCM radio on air talent what do you look for?

I am looking for air personalities who want to be in Christian radio and understand the station's mission and goals. There are many believers working in mainstream radio. We need to get the word out to them that CCM radio has stepped out of the dark ages and needs their talents to help build top notch radio stations that play Christian music.

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

Those stations that refuse to embrace the tools at their disposal (music testing, focus groups, etc.) will get their clocks cleaned by stations, both secular and Christian, that do.  Many Christian stations have agendas that do not match up with what the users of the end product want.  Stations that insist on airing programming that their target audience doesn't want will underperform their potential.  I have never seen a research study or focus group where target listeners to a CCM format indicated that they wanted a "religious" sounding station with preachy, over-spiritual DJs.  In our research believers usually want a station that represents their lifestyle.  In the case of our target they are Christians, but they are also wives, mothers, sisters, neighbors, PTA members, homeowners/makers, etc..  Stations that find out what their target listeners really care about (and it usually isn't radio) and reflect those things back to them on the air are the ones who will touch the most ears in their markets.        

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

To entertain and inform...and to sound like real people when doing so.  When one of my air personalities steps into my office for their air check meeting they usually don't greet me with, "hello brother Dean, blessings on this glorious day the Lord has made.  In God's plan for my life he chose to minister to me in my car while sitting on State Road 436."  They say, "hi Dean, sorry I'm running a little late but traffic is really bad on State Road 436."  At Z88.3 each air personality is expected to be a real person living out real life on the radio.          

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

100.9-KXOJ, 89.3 FM-KSBJ and 94.9-KLTY have be paving the way for a long time.  89.5-KTSY in Boise has a small staff and yet sounds larger than life.  95.5-The Fish in Cleveland has nailed the "lifestyle" sound and 88.7 WAY-FM Nashville has never been more focused.

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

Hopefully owning the women 25-44 demo in every market where a CCM station exists.  If we become her favorite station, we become an influence in her husband and children's lives as well. 


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