John Frost “If Our Format Can Be Life Changing Why Are Our Stations So Ordinary?

Every Christian music radio station starts with the same set of tools.   There is a stack of tunes, access to a varied list of air talent, some highly trained and some just sticking their heads out of the egg, a laundry list of promotions, and marketing resources ranging from billboards and bumper stickers all over town to your city’s best kept secret.  

So if we all start with the same set of tools what makes some stations ordinary while others are transformational?  

In my almost 50 years of broadcasting (hey, I started when I was a wee little child) one of the things that has made our format my all-time favorite to program is that every day it has the potential to be transformational.  We certainly know that is true from a spiritual perspective in the remarkable music we play and the messages that are crafted to touch the soul, but there is another way our format can be transformational.  

A few years ago my friend Joe Battaglia and I had the privilege of spending several days in San Diego to help Ken Blanchard, author of the “One Minute Manager” series that has sold 13 million copies in 37 languages, develop the radio campaign for “Lead Like Jesus”.   As we brainstormed ideas Ken shared his experience of training the staff of the newly opened Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball club.   They began with the end in mind.   

What do we want fans to say when they are leaving the ballpark? 

Now, keep in mind that the stadium staff had no control over whether the Padres won or lost, and no influence on how interesting the game was.  The only thing the stadium staff could influence was the experience fans had at the ballpark, win or lose, rain or shine.  

Ken walked them through an exercise that posed the question, “What do we want them to say when they are leaving the ballpark?”  After several hours of discussion, they came up with this idea…..

“I want to come back and I want to bring a friend.”  

That one sentence crystalized their definition of success.  The staff then went to work on creating a ballpark experience that could influence that response.  

On next week’s show I’ll share how this simple idea can help your radio station go from ordinary to transformational.   (That’s a tease, don’t cha know).  


If our format can be life changing why are our stations so ordinary? Part two

On last week’s show I asked…..so why if radio stations in our format all begin with the same general stack of tools (music, deejays, etc.) why are most stations ordinary while only a few are transformational?  

Last week I shared how my friend Joe Battaglia and I partnered with Ken Blanchard, author of the best selling “One Minute Manager” series, to develop the national radio campaign for “Lead Like Jesus”.  As we brainstormed ideas Ken shared his experience of training the ballpark staff of the Padres’ Petco Park in San Diego. 

They began with the end in mind.   

What do we want fans to say when they are leaving the ballpark? 

After several hours of discussion, it was transformed to this specific idea…..

“I want to come back and I want to bring a friend.”  

That one sentence crystalized their definition of success.  The staff then went to work on creating a ballpark experience that could influence the conversation toward that response. 

We radio folks are somewhat good at thinking about WHAT we do but far less good in thinking WHY we do it.   Perhaps we should ask….

‘What do we want our listeners to say when they listen?’

 

Hopefully, we create programming elements for a reason, even if that reason is a lousy one, like this is the music the boss wants to hear.

 What if we design those elements with intentionality, understanding that our stations have the potential to be transformational?

Our stations have the potential to transform someone’s mood.   Or their attitude.   Or perspective.  

We have the potential to transform someone’s commute, so they won’t be late for work or get into an accident because of a traffic problems.   

We have the potential to transform someone’s mindset into being a better husband, a wife, or a mom or dad when they get home after a hard day at work and an exhausting drive home in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  

So…..

…..when your listeners hear something on your radio station….

what do you want them to say?

Answer that question and you’ll embrace the power…..

….that can make your station transformational.   


If our format can be life changing why are our stations so ordinary? Part three

If you’ve been following this storyline the last couple of weeks you know I’ve brought up an idea that I believe is transformative for our format.  

Let me review for those just tuning in.

If all stations begin with the same general stack of tools (music, deejays, etc.) why are most stations in our format ordinary while only a few are transformational?  

We radio folks are somewhat good at thinking about WHAT we do but far less good in thinking WHY we do it.   Perhaps we should ask….

‘What do we want our listeners to say when they listen?’

 What if we design those elements with intentionality, understanding that our stations have the potential to be transformational?

Last Friday my friends at KLTY in Dallas-Ft. Worth did something transformational.   On the hottest day of the summer in North Texas they transformed their radio station into Christmas in July!  

Nutty?  Check

Surprise and delight?   Check

Instantly familiar music to new folks tuning in?   Check

Seizing the moment to capturing the universal feeling of coming out of the pandemic during another blistering Texas summer?   Check

KLTY’s transformational programming wasn’t merely about changing the playlist to Christmas music (and viewing as such would have been a serious mistake).  Instead, it was about using a tool that is familiar (Christmas music) as the soundtrack to tell the story of a community coming together and celebrating the journey of what we’ve been through.      

 

#kltychristmasinjuly  

 

Social media was littered with stories of the surprise of hearing Christmas music in July.   In essence, it helped make them feel better.   It began the conversation of the tribe.  

 

“The greatest opportunity – indeed, the greatest need – is to help your listeners feel better. To calm them down. To help them relax. To bring them comfort.

That means tending to their bodies, their minds, AND their spirit.”  Mark Ramsey 

 

All stations have the same basic tools but your station has the potential to be transformational.    It starts with asking the question “what do we want them to say when they listen?”  

 

Perhaps they’ll say Merry Christmas….in July!


John Frost 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 joined Goodratings’ partner Alan Mason in 1999. Contact John at [email protected]

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