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Radio Interview


Tom Fridley

Program Director





Tom's Career Capsule
Formerly: WZFS / Chicago - PD / MD / Afternoons, WCOL / Columbus - OM / Middays, WBBS / Syracuse - PD / Afternoons, WBOB / Minneapolis - APD / Middays

Other Stations: KHYI / Dallas, WBZZ / Pittsburgh, WVTY / Pittsburgh, WRRK / Pittsburgh, WSNY / Columbus, WMJQ / Buffalo, WJET / Erie, WHTO / Williamsport, WKYN / St. Marys, WKBI / St. Marys

Television: Total Living Network / Chicago, WCCO / Minneapolis, WBNS / Columbus, WVTH / Syracuse, Aurora Cable Vision, East Aurora, NY

Film: Lonely Hearts (John Travolta / Salma Hayek - due out in February) - part: detective; Traffic (Michael Douglas / Katherine Zeta Jones) - part: businessman

1. Tell us about your market and how it is unique?

Located in the northeast corner of Florida, Jacksonville is more like southern Georgia than what most people typically think of a city in Florida. It's very conservative, with a mixture of southern locals and transplants, with a high African American population. It's also a military town with Naval bases. A sprawling city, Jacksonville is the largest city, in terms of square miles, in America. Musically, it is more of a rock and roll town than many markets I've lived in.


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

That there are now more options in most markets for listeners to choose from. As a personality I love that I can be who I really am on and off the air. In secular radio I tried hard to find ways to be a bright light and positive influence without stepping over the line with what was expected and accepted. I have always tried to weave family, fun and faith into my presentation and image. The Promise is a Salem 'Fish' format station, which allows me to be myself without preaching. It welcomes believers and seekers alike, and that's right where I want to be.


3. How do you personally keep the ministry in the business?

I grew up in a strong Christian family and my parents taught us that example, the way you live your life, has more impact on people than talk. Therefore, I live and work with the philosophy of 'show, don't tell.' I never preach. As a personality I try to tell stories and say things that show, rather than tell people the message I am trying to share. As a station we put tremendous effort into lifting people up and making them feel good about themselves and hopeful about the day, the future, the city they live in and mankind in general. At our station we are entertainers and companions, and we try our best to be friends and look for ways to do a little extra to help the community and listeners on a personal basis. The thing I love most about my staff is that they chose this format and station because it is more than a job to them, and every day brings chances to make a difference. Some days are more challenging than others. We learn from the challenges and are often surprised by the blessings. 


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

Our listeners tell us they like to hear their favorites and aren't interested in too much new music because they don't have time to learn a bunch of new songs. That's why we test most of our music before we add it to the playlist. We let them tell us what they want to hear. To fit the format of our station, a song should have a positive or uplifting message and be performed by an artist who exhibits Christian values.  


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

Things that impact our listeners lives. The two most successful promotions all year were nothing mind blowing, but they were what our listeners were interested at the time. When gas was selling for $3 a gallon we did "The Promise $5,000 Great Gas Giveaway." It was simply $100 in free gas and it was huge. We rented a movie theater and showed "The Chronicles of Narnia" the night before it opened nationwide and gave away family 4-paks of tickets every hour from 6a-6p for a week. You'd have thought we were giving away $1000 bills. 


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

I think they try hard to serve radio well. The one sense I still get from some labels is that they approach radio from the label's point of view. They tell us what they need from us or how we can help them. All we want from them are songs that will become our listener's favorites. Whether an artist makes it to #1 means nothing to the listener, which is who we're both trying to serve. 


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

I can only speak for commercial stations, since I have not worked for a non-com. Sales. The Fish went belly-up in Chicago because it couldn't sell. That is our biggest challenge here in Jacksonville, as well. It impacts the size of the staff and the ability to afford top talent and resources. Stations are understaffed and overworked, which hinders creativity, marketing and ministry aspects. 


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

Each station most likely has a unique mission. At The Promise in Jacksonville, the role of our air talent is to reflect the lifestyle and values of the listener here. Beyond that, we must pour a great deal of energy and focus into adding hope, joy and a positive spin on life. That's the gas in the tank, and you can take it a thousand different directions from there. 


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

I know there are many great stations across the nation. KLTY in Dallas was the first CCM station I heard in 1990 while doing CHR at Y95 in that market, and it continues to be a great model in our format. Just down the road from here in Orlando, WPOZ. There's a great station in Boise, KTSY, that does a lot with a little. I honestly am so busy listening to my station that I don't spend enough time listening to others. It's an honor to be in a format with so many talented, skilled and driven performers who have chosen to make a difference in people's lives with their careers. The CCM format is becoming a player.


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

On a car preset button of every Christian family within listening distance of a great Christian station. 


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