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John Frost “The most valuable (and least understood) programming idea”

Now I have to admit it….

“Americans vote Taco Bell as…”

….when I saw this headline I felt something in my tummy.

Now, I don’t want to offend anyone but as a fella who grew up in Texas, I found this announcement as nutty as John Frost taking the award for the best looking guy in high school. (That actually happened, by the way, but not because I was voted in but because I literally “took” the award).

So, what’s up here?

One can’t prefer something one isn’t familiar with

Where I grew up really good Mexican food restaurants were on almost every corner. I’m talking about the kind where you actually have to get out of your car. Even today when I find a displaced Texan the question often comes up, “Where do you find the good Mexican food here?”

“Familiarity is preference.” Mark Ramsey

Everyone’s favorite radio station is the station that plays their favorite music. That is the most valuable and least understand programming idea. However, dozens and dozens of CCM stations have as much as half of a typical hour comprised of music that even station fans aren’t yet familiar with. (I have fancy charts and graphs on this).

So, what do we do about this?

Kansas City radio legend Dan Hurst shares this story…..

“When I was in Paphos Cyprus, I hired a taxicab driver to take me around the city and show me the sites. It was the best investment in that trip I ever made. He was so in love with the city, and talked about it so passionately, and gave me such incredible insights to the sites that he took me to see, that I absolutely fell in love with the city. What I hadn’t known before, and what appeared to me as irrelevant and uninteresting, suddenly became fascinating and endearing!

Radio is very much the same way. When radio personalities are so in love with what they do and the music, and the stories and history behind the music that they share that incredible joy with the listener, the listener will fall in love with the music in spite of the fact that it originally seemed unfamiliar, irrelevant, and perhaps even boring.”

Unlike country, pop, rock, and AC, in the CCM format we can’t do anything about the fact that most people didn’t grow up listening to the music, but to be successful we must deliberately set out to create familiarity in ways that matter to our listeners.

If your station isn’t inherently familiar it has to be designed in. Familiarity is the fruit of common ground.


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 joined Goodratings’ partner Alan Mason in 1999. Contact John at john@goodratings.com