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 was recognized by
Radio and Records’ magazine as one of the top air talent in
America while at KHTR in St. Louis in the early 80’s.
Prior to joining Goodratings’ partner Alan Mason in 1999, John
serviced as Vice President for Paxson Communications’ 47-station
group in West Palm Beach. He stayed with Paxson through the
transition of the company to launch the PAX TV network, where
his primary job was watching Love Boat reruns.
Before being promoted to VP of programming in 1996, John was
Operations Manager for Paxson’s five station cluster in Orlando,
Florida. It was at AC Magic 107.7 that John and consultant Alan
Mason launched the first family values, “safe for the family”
strategy, resulting in Paxson Communications’ first 12+ and #1
25-54 station. Bud Paxson, Chairman of Paxson Communications
and very tall fellow, cites the success of family values radio
as a catalyst for his dream of a family friendly television
network. “If not for John Frost….” Mr. Paxson would oft be
heard to mutter as he wandered the hallways in his bath
In the last decade, Mr. Frost has been involved in the dramatic
growth of Contemporary Christian radio, bringing mainstream
programming strategies and research principles to help create
and develop numerous market leading stations. Each of the four
stations that won the GMA station of the year award in 2009 are
stations with whom John and Alan work.
John was recognized in 2008 by Radio and Records and in 2006 by
Christian Radio Weekly as one of the most influential people in
the Christian music industry. The Gospel Music Association
honored John in 2004 with the Scott Campbell industry
achievement award, which partner Alan Mason also received in
John has teamed up with long time Christian broadcasting
visionary Joe Battaglia to form Battaglia-Frost Creative
Productions, Inc., a company designed to bring high quality,
high ministry impact programming to radio stations free of cost
to the station. The internationally heard three hour weekend
worship music show “Don Moen and Friends”, Steve Brown’s “You
Think About That”, and leadership guru Ken Blanchard’s “Lead
Like Jesus” are among their initial projects.
Never one to shy away from a microphone and an avid baseball fan
fluent in several languages, John has served for the past eleven
seasons as the semi-professional public address announcer for
the St. Louis Cardinals at Spring Training at Roger Dean Stadium
in Jupiter, Florida, as well as the Cardinals’ and Florida
Marlins’ minor league teams.
How has Christian Radio evolved over the last few years?
Ten years ago there were few Christian radio stations that had
comparable audiences to mainstream rock, pop, or country
stations. Christian radio was generally perceived to be subpar.
Now there are Christian radio stations all over the country
that lead their markets and target demographics. This has
happened foundationally by stations understanding what is
meaningful to their listeners and potential listeners and
focusing on those things. Many stations diffuse their good
efforts with dozens of projects that take time and energy away
from the main things. The station becomes too busy being busy
and never reaches excellence in any area that would impact their
listeners and community. The discipline of focusing on the most
important things isn’t fun but it is vital in creating a
meaningful radio station. There is no format that is worse when
done poorly, nor is there one that is as compelling when done
2. In what
major ways has Christian Radio been affected due to the economic
In some ways Christian radio has weathered the economic downturn
better because mainstream stations are commonly owned by
publicly traded companies which are more directly affected by
the panic on Wall Street. Many Christian radio companies or
ministries have been able to look past the short term “make the
quarter” mindset of the public companies and focus on sound
business principles and building relationships. In times of
need people often turn to God which has created a ministry
opportunity that many stations have responded to. Certainly
donor driven stations are impacted by the financial struggles of
individuals but many stations have affectively communicated
their vision and purpose in helping people through tough times.
No one ever gets tired of being encouraged and this format has
been an important source of encouragement at a time where bad
news is easily found on other formats.
does a consultant best benefit a station?
Every organization experiences “The Curse of Knowledge” where it
is impossible for those with knowledge to imagine what it’s like
to lack that knowledge. All inside the station know too much
about the station to even be able to understand what a brand new
listener perceives. Every air talent has heard every hour of
every show they’ve ever done. A new listener only hears that
first break which may determine whether they ever listen again.
Many programmers or managers have been at the station since the
day it signed on the air and perceive their station with its
entire history as framework. I recall being given a tour of a
station I was beginning to work with and hearing wonderful
stories about how the people of the town lobbied for a Christian
station and how organizations and churches pulled together to
give them a facility and supplies to get on the air. When I
asked them why this amazing story was never on the air they
were stunned. For the first time they realized that the
remarkable birth story of their station was so familiar to them
they just assumed everyone knew it and had never considered
sharing it with new listeners. People often remark how much my
younger daughter and I look alike. She and I can look in the
mirror or at family pictures and entirely miss the resemblance.
And yet a perfect stranger sees it so strongly that it is one
of the first things they comment on. A program director or
manager cannot lead a station where it has never been unless
they understand the reality of its current strengths and
weaknesses and have dependable counsel that can share the
successes and mistakes of others who have traveled the same
road. Expertise and experience have value in every business,
ministry, or organization. Resisting having that expertise on
your team simply results in the likelihood that you’ll make more
mistakes, have more frequent nose bleeds, and slow down the
process in ways that simply are not necessary. Every time I
write a check to my CPA I’m reminded how grateful I am that I’m
using his expertise and not wasting my Saturday morning reading
the latest Tax Code revisions.
kind of promotions work best for Christian radio?
Our listeners want to belong to something of significance and
make a difference in their community and around the world. Our
stations can be “leaders of a tribe”, communicating with that
tribe and connecting the tribe to each other. We should quit
thinking of ourselves as radio stations with a tower and 75 mile
radius and begin to think of ourselves as the largest church in
town. Our stations can mobilize a force for good in our
community, thereby enriching lives, and sharing the Gospel
message with our actions.
6. Do you
think there will be more syndication in Christian radio or less
in the near future?
Syndication is most useful if it provides relevant and
compelling content that the radio station could not create on
its own. Syndication is not helpful if you’re choosing from a
list of shows or features that are not in keeping your station’s
mission, values, or listener expectations. The days of a
program producer viewing the radio station strictly as a
distribution outlet for their own ministry needs are over.
Today’s market leading Christian music stations need strategic
partners that provide resources to help meet the station’s own
strategic objectives not detract from them. Where the
syndicator and the station’s strategy come together the
relationship can be productive for both.
7. In your
opinion what are the biggest obstacles facing a local Christian
radio station that’s up against a network?
Networks are neither good nor bad. The main thing the listener
cares about is “how does this affect my life?” Any station,
local or network, can choose to be irrelevant and uninteresting.
In a competitive situation simply ask what your station can do
that is meaningful to your listener in a way that is distinct
from their other choices. Then devote yourself to doing that to
the best of your ability. The more similar the products the
more important the differences.
8. What do
you believe is the primary role of the Christian radio air
The air talent on Christian radio has a critically important
role because the first time listener knows very little about the
music we play, unlike country, rock, or pop. The talent, then,
becomes the “tour guide” to welcome someone into a new
environment (think of the “You are Here” map at the mall), treat
you like a friend (most people attend a new church for the first
time because of a friend), and to speak into your life in ways
that are meaningful and interesting. Our format is about the
most important things of a listener’s life—their faith, family,
and community. All we have to do is tell their story in a way
that is compelling radio.
9. What (if
any) Christian radio stations do you consider as innovators today?
Stations that are market leaders have several things in common.
1) The ability to focus their resources on the things that make
the biggest difference. 2) The ability to share the vision so
that the entire team is engaged and motivated. 3) Create a
culture of creativity and a willingness to take risks so that
the station remains interesting and engaging.
For creating an inviting and interesting listening environment I
appreciate what Spirit 105-3 in Seattle and New Life 91.9 in
For the ability to articulate a vision and engage the team, I’m
amazed at the leadership at Z88.3 in Orlando and The Fish in
For serving the community and uniting its listeners for a cause,
KTIS in Minneapolis-St. Paul, 88.3 The Wind in Springfield, KSBJ
in Houston, and KTSY in Boise.
For the leadership in engaging new tools of research and
marketing, I appreciate what WGTS in Washington, D.C., and the Z
in Orlando are doing.
For the willingness to forge a new path and create personalities
that transcend the appeal of the music, I salute WAY-FM, Scott
and Sam, and the CIU group WRCM/WMHK in the Carolinas.
For becoming legendary to multiple generations of listeners I
highly value the work of KLTY in Dallas, KSBJ in Houston, and
KTIS in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Creating great radio is hard work. It requires learning how the
medium of radio works, understanding the tastes and values of
your listeners, and adopting the discipline necessary to make
things happen. Creating great Christian radio involves a
revolutionary paradigm shift---from that of serving those inside
to serving your listeners and community.
I’ll quote my friend Dean O’Neal who shared with me, “He didn’t
give us church talent, nor preaching talent, or crusade talent.
He gave us radio talent to be used to maximize the reach and
impact of a very special tool called a radio station. Love
Christ, serve others, point them back to Christ doing
compelling, relevant radio. So simple at its core and yet the
hardest thing for most to do.”