10 Questions with ... Johnny & Stacey Stone
June 17, 2013
1. Brief career highlight history
Johnny: I knew at the age of 8 that I wanted to be in radio. While in the Air Force, stationed in Orlando, Florida, I got my very first job at WDIZ, working overnights while during the day I was a photographer for the Air Force. After college, I spent quite a few years in secular radio, working in San Diego, Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas/Fort Worth. For the last13 years, in Christian radio at stations like the Fish in Chicago, STAR 99.1 in the New York Metro and now the Family Life Radio network.
Stacey: And I shared those same Christian stations with him but came from an education background never intending to be on the radio. Until I took an internship during my Master's program at a radio station in Dallas/Fort Worth and decided to never leave!
2. Where did you grow up, go to school, first job, etc?
Stacey: I was born in Fort Worth, Texas in the same hospital as generations of my family before me. I have a Bachelor's degree in Psychology (that I use every day) and a Master's degree in Communication. My first job was writing service at the car dealership my father worked for and that is what caused me to stay in school as long as I possibly could!
Johnny: I am a St Paul/Minneapolis boy, coming from a family of 8 kids, I am the second oldest. My family would spend summer vacations visiting National Parks like Yellowstone. In the camper at nights, I would tell stories I made up to my brothers and sisters. I guess I was honing my story telling skills!
I remember during one over night shift at WDIZ, since I was working two jobs, the other at the Air Force base, I was so tired that I ate a spoonful of Folgers crystals in an effort to stay awake. I would not advise anyone doing that.
3. When did you know you had caught the bug for radio?
Johnny: Lying in my bunk bed (bottom because my older brother Bob wanted the top) listening to John Records Landecker on WLS out of Chicago, I wanted to be part of something that big. His "Boogie Check" is the original shout out. I also have wonderful memories of traveling around the country in the way back seat of my parent's station wagon tuning my transistor radio to various radio stations along the way.
Stacey: The moment I knew I could combine my love for community service with what I did for a living I was hooked. The first station I ever worked for had a program called Charity of the Month and it instilled in me a desire to create programs to help others.
4. What's the most impactful moment on air you've ever experienced?
Stacey: During a Sharathon while we were at a station in the Northeast, a father called and told us about his son who wanted to take his own life. He went out into the woods, put the hose in the window of his car and tried to put his Metallica CD into the player. It spit it right back out. He tried again and the player did it again. So he turned on the radio and the only station that would come through was the station we were working at. Third Day's song Cry Out To Jesus was on the radio and the son changed his mind, went home to his family and gave his life to Christ. Sometime later, I had the chance to sit down with lead singer and songwriter for Third day, Mac Powell, for a brief moment and ask him about this (They wrote I Need A Miracle about the story) He said the most amazing part was that he wrote Cry Out To Jesus when a grandmother accidentally backed over her 4-year-old grandson in his neighborhood. So God took a song written about the death of one son and saved another's son with it! More proof that we will never wrap our brains around everything that God is doing on this earth until we get to heaven.
5. How do you compete in this age of "instant everything"?
Johnny: As far as show prep, it has changed everything. The newspapers I actually get to hold and smell are few and far between now. The "instant" part has improved the quality and quickness of our show. We never could do a topic like "What used to be a luxury but is now a necessity" without all of the improvements for sure! Using Facebook and Twitter are important parts of audience participation. However, they should be used to push Facebook and Twitter users to the radio station to listen, and not using the radio station to push them to the social media sites.
Stacey: I'll get a text from a girlfriend in crisis and the next break will change to "if you are going through (insert what my girlfriend is going through) God cares and He loves you no matter what. Here is the verse that I just texted to my friend." We are not quite as cut off from the world in the studio any longer and that can be a double edged sword: one side is we are really informed and much more relevant or we are really distracted. Johnny and I tend to lean toward the first.
6. What's the greatest personal challenge that you face?
Johnny: Not having ADD would be a major challenge - fortunately I don't have that problem. Squirrel!
Stacey: I just reminded him three times about something we have to do in our next break so I concur. Personal challenges are as vast as the people you are asking this question of. Obviously, after everything that we have been through in the past year, I have trust issues with opening my heart to people who have no concern for my feelings. But I trust God and hope that there are those who will hear our story/program and gain hope from it.
7. Who are three people you look up to & admire?
Stacey: I have the most wonderful husband in the world and our really weird relationship (together 24/7) also means that he is my greatest mentor.
Another would have to be Valerie Geller. Each and every time I say the name of the station or call letters I smile because I know how blessed I am to be in this position and how many other people would love to be.
I find myself quoting Tommy Kramer a great deal about camera angles and believing in myself enough to walk into that studio in the first place.
Johnny: My dad is my biggest mentor. While he was in the Army, he built a radio station that covered the base and broadcast music at night for the soldiers to listen to. After he left the service, he became a doctor, but there is a picture of him while he was in the Army, sitting in front of a microphone and a record player. I have a copy of that picture on my desk.
Chuck Knapp took me under his wing when I was a little baby DJ in the secular world. He, along with Michael J. Douglas, while at KSTP FM in the Twin Cities, taught me tons of ways of connecting with listeners.
Bob Neil brought me to Atlanta and taught me key ways of being myself on the air. He eventually went on to be President of Cox Communications Radio Division.
8. What steps do you take to connect with your listener?
Johnny: Be engaging and relevant while being yourself. You really have to take your show to the next level. What are you adding to their lives each and every day? It is pretty easy for Christian radio people because we have Jesus and that is the ultimate common touchstone any broadcaster can have. But you need to make sure you have a relationship with your listener where they are treated with respect and kindness so they will listen to what you are saying. The only way to do that is to hire and keep personalities that value the people listening to your radio station enough to prepare for that day's show.
Stacey: Social media is so important but not just for social media's sake. Yes, you have tons of followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook but they have to be influenced to listen to your show. Don't send them to Facebook - have Facebook send them to your show. Faceless social media won't work either so make your personalities' voices (attitude, drama, family, etc.) your voice on social media. Also, you have to ask yourself what you are doing for the person looking at your social media.
9. What's the most effective station promotion you've ever been a part of?
Stacey: I'll take this one. We won the NAB Crystal Radio award for the 9/11 Empty Shoe Memorial that my team put together. No one imagines, creates and fulfills a great promotion alone. But I have serious issues with Easter Egg Hunts! My first one was in DFW and it was in the 90's in April. All the chocolate melted and I was wearing an Armadillo full body costume so it was not pleasant. Then, when we moved to NYC, I planned another one by mistake. Everyone said we would not have more than 500 people there total but something told me to plan for more. More than 1500 showed up that morning. The last one was a rainy mess so I give up!
10. You're teaching an entry level course called "Radio 101"........go!
Johnny: Always be curious and ask questions. Who do you like to listen to on the air? They may be at your station or a different station. Maybe not even in Christian radio, but you like their style and delivery. Call them and tell them you respect their work and ask if they would give you some advice on how they do what they do. Same for programmers. If you like the sound of a station, study how it is put together. Then call the PD and ask if you can pick their brain about programming. If you are at a station that works with John Frost, Tommy Kramer or Alan Mason, use the opportunity to discuss radio with them as often as you can.
1. Most embarrassing moment on air?
Johnny: I seem to create them for myself. Most of the time, when I am giving Stacey a gift on-air, my face is the one that turns red in embarrassment. I really thought the Clapper I gave her for Christmas was a great idea! And the nose hair trimmers were a great gift!
Stacey: For some strange reason I thought it would be a good idea to quote Welcome Back, Kotter one morning. I got half way through "Up your nose with a rubber hose" and my brain kicked in. It was one of those moments you will never forget.
2. You've got one final break, and then the radio will go silent forever. What do you say?
Johnny: Coming up next, the secret to life....
Stacey: I would spend every last second telling them what God has done for me. No one can dispute what He has done for your life. And I would tell them to watch for angels, pick up a Bible and stop running from Jesus who loves them so much.