A Programming Lesson From Saturday Morning Cartoons

So, who’s your favorite player on the Washington Generals?

That, my friends, is a question that has never been asked.

The Washington Generals were created so that the Harlem Globetrotters would have someone to play. And beat. In fact, as of this morning’s sports page the Generals have lost more than 16,000 games to the Globetrotters. So much for the half-time pep talk.

What does this have to do with your radio station?

The Generals were designed to lose. To have no recognizable stars. To be generic. The Generals are known for nothing other than what is inherent in simply taking to the court; that they play basketball. The Globetrotters, on the other hand, have performed with amazing tricks and antics from stars and zany personalities like Curly Neal and Meadowlark Lemon, “the clown prince of basketball”. And they have even had their own Saturday morning cartoon show!

I’ve been inside a few radio stations recently that are known for nothing other than what is inherent in the format—that they play Christian music.  No distinctions. No unique personalities. No meaningful connection to their community. No shared sense of ‘today’.

Things bounced along okay for a while. And then a competitor came to town. That’s when they reach out for help.

So, why would your listeners prefer to spend time with your station over another? “The value of choice depends upon our ability to perceive differences in the options.”  – Mark Ramsey

I can promise you a couple of things.   If your station is known only for the music that is inherit to any station in the format, you’ll soon have fewer listeners than your competition.  And you’ll never have your own Saturday morning cartoon show.


John Frost, consultant and partner in Goodratings Strategic Services, has been an integral influence in the dramatic growth of Contemporary Christian radio, bringing mainstream programming strategies and research principles to help create and develop some of America’s most successful Christian music stations.

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