Frost, partner in Goodratings Strategic Services, 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 35 year broadcast career.
Prior to joining partner Alan Mason in 1999, John serviced as Vice
President of Programming for Paxson Communications’ 47-station group
in Florida, and then with the PAX TV network. He was on the cutting
edge of the Smooth Jazz format (The Oasis in Dallas) and Young
Country, before moving to Orlando to oversee the programming on
Paxson’s five stations, including the launch of all sports station
540 The Team.
2004, John was recognized by CRW, a Christian radio and retail trade
magazine, as one of the 50 most influential people in Christian
music. The Gospel Music Association honored John in 2004 with the
Scott Campbell industry achievement award, which his partner Alan
Mason also received in 2007.
Ever comfortable behind the microphone and an avid baseball fan,
John is also the semi-professional public address announcer in
spring training for the St. Louis Cardinals, as well as the
Cardinals and Florida Marlins minor league teams.
Personally how do you keep the ministry in the “business”?
They are not mutually exclusive. “Ministry” is
ultimately reaching people for Christ which correlates to audience
growth which is “good business”. A former boss of mine used to say,
“We can do more good if we are good.” Healthy, growing radio
stations are often better at ministering to people because they
understand the strategies and processes you have to go through to
get effective performance from your team.
2. Overall, how is Christian radio different today,
from 5 years ago?
Arbitron data says that Christian music radio has
grown by 189% in the last ten years, by far the fastest growing
format. That growth is fueled by strategic thinking by more and
more organizations, adopting training principles for air talent and
programmers, and utilizing outside resources to augment internal
efforts. This growth has also magnified the need for talent and
programmers that are trained and developed. Lack of talent in both
areas is by far the biggest obstacle the format now faces.
3. What do you think are the main characteristics of
today’s Christian radio PD?
A successful PD needs to understand how his/her job
fits into the bigger picture of the purpose and mission of the
organization, have the people skills to build and lead a team, and
have the technical skills of designing a radio station’s structure
to audience growth. Most PD’s in the format have very little
training, which often results in their just winging it and basing
their programming decisions on a subjective evaluation of what they
think sounds good.
4. What criteria are required for a song to be played
on Christian Radio?
Everyone’s favorite radio station is the station that
plays their favorite music. A successful station is one that
implements systems to efficiently expose the favorite songs to the
station fans, while also allowing new listeners to become familiar
with the music so they, too, can become fans.
5. What kind of promotions work best for Christian
Promotions need to accomplish one of three goals: to
increase the station’s audience, to reinforce the brand, identity or
purpose of the station, or to help people listen more frequently.
6. How do you think Christian Record labels can
better serve Christian radio?
Offer stations songs with powerful messages that
listeners will love, and creatively work with station to connect
listeners to the music and the music makers for a remarkable
experience. Many labels are very helpful to stations.
7. In your opinion what are the biggest obstacles
facing Christian radio today?
The lack of training of programmers and talent, and
lack of a desire for excellence.
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 do I hear “ministry” as a serious charge for
the station’s highest and best use to reach people for Christ and
impact a community for good. I think the reason for that is
simple. Creating great radio is hard work. It requires learning how
the medium of radio works; understanding the tastes, interests, and
values of your listeners; and having the discipline to focus only
on what your station does best. Creating great Christian radio
involves a revolutionary paradigm shift--from that of serving those
inside the radio station, to serving your listeners and your
8. What do you believe is the primary role of the
Christian radio air personality?
To help make the station more than just a utility
that plays a bunch of songs. Their performance and content needs to
help create a friendship with station fans by reflecting their
tastes, interests, and values, and build a bridge to new listeners
by creating a welcoming, familiar listening environment.
9. What (if any) Christian radio stations do you
consider as innovators today?
I have worked with the WAY-FM group for almost ten
years and they are constantly evaluating how to do things better and
to become more effective. They have strong leadership that believes
in vision, strategic thinking, and giving their people the tools
they need. Certainly, I would have to celebrate the accomplishments
of my friends Jim Hoge and Dean O’Neal and their team at Z88.3 in
Orlando, and Scott Valentine and his team at Spirit 105.3 in
Seattle. I mention those two stations specifically because of
Z88.3’s growth and audience size in a medium size market (compare
their cume to stations in significantly larger markets) and KCMS for
impacting a city that is heavily unchurched. I also need to include
John Konrad of WGTS in Washington, D.C., for its impact and growth
in our nation’s capitol, and his leadership during a very
challenging time of the threat of the station being sold. Each of
these stations also invests in the development of their people!
10. Where do you see Christian radio in 5 years?
The future is bright if we face the changing world of
terrestrial radio and understand how to reach a new generation of
people who grew up without radio being a significant part of their
lives. Faith will always be relevant. We must be willing to
communicate faith in new, creative, and relevant ways to those we’re
trying to reach.