Contemporary Christian KLTY rockets to #2
By Mike Kinosian
Managing Editor/West Coast Bureau Chief
DALLAS — When he assumed the general manager’s chair of KLTY some 13 years ago, John Peroyea immediately met with the Dallas station’s programming staff. In that confab, he boldly predicted there would be a day when he would announce that the facility had reached a five-share.
By way of historical perspective, KLTY’s 12+ figures from the approximate time period Peroyea joined the station were: 2.8 (spring 1998); 3.2 (summer 1998); 3.1 (fall 1998); 3.8 (winter 1999); and 3.5 (spring 1999).
Therefore it was understandable that there was snickering around the room when he made that ratings forecast; mid-day talent Bonnie Curry was especially skeptical. “After the meeting I told her that if people don’t believe it, we will never get there,” recounts Peroyea, Salem’s regional vice president of operations. “It wasn’t that she didn’t believe it, no one had ever said it before.”
This past March – and again in July – Salem-owned KLTY registered a 5.1 (6+, Arbitron PPM).
Data released earlier this week from the August monthly however shows that the contemporary Christian outlet has exploded even further to a 6.3 (#2) and trails market frontrunner “Kiss” (Clear Channel CHR KHKS) by one share (7.3 – 6.3). The distance between the two stations in July was three shares (8.1 – 5.1).
As soon as he learned that KLTY attained its 5.1 in March, Peroyea walked into Curry’s office and simply said, “We did it.” The two laughed and Peroyea remarks, “She remembered our conversation from 13 years ago and knew exactly where I was going with that statement. It was a milestone for us and the station had a big celebration. We will not rest on our laurels though and we will continue to try to build audience. We are a good radio station that delivers to our listeners as well as to our advertisers.”
Not only did Peroyea (correctly) envision that KLTY could perform better ratings wise, he maintained the station was capable of making considerable improvement on its approximately $375,000 of monthly billing. “I told the sales staff we deserved to be doing over one million dollars a month,” he recounts. “Their eyes got big, wide, and bright. Part of the way we needed to get there was to take away the toys we had made available. They were ‘no-charging’ some clients and giving away the store with a promotion for every buy. In a world where you are trying to win, it requires you to be disciplined. Long-term success comes from building audience and getting better results for advertisers.”
Million-dollar months became reality in Peroyea’s second month at KLTY and he proclaims, “We haven’t looked back. In terms of billing in the market, we are in a very respectable position. I have never seen such tangible results from a radio station in any other format I have operated. Our listeners literally tell clients that they are going to their businesses because they are good enough to advertise on their favorite radio station.”
Typical KLTY listeners perceive the station’s ad clients will take good care of them. “When someone advertises on our station, it breaks down to being an implied endorsement,” Peroyea opines. “That is how passionate our listeners are about KLTY. Even with some of the outstanding stations I was affiliated with in secular radio, I cannot remember seeing anything like this.”
The registered trademark born at KLTY and adopted across Salem’s entire group of contemporary Christian music stations is “Safe for the Whole Family” and Peroyea stresses, “We have to live up to that promise every day – and we do. We take that very seriously. Our station appeals to the whole family so we giveaway ‘family, four-packs.’ There is no blue humor on the station – we keep things clean. There are no ads sold to gambling entities or any establishments that serve alcohol.”
Welcome to the Hotel California
Consistency has been a major key to the 25-54 female-targeted facility and Peroyea underscores the importance of “keeping our fingers on the pulse of the community.”
Noting that Salem believes in conducting audience research, Peroyea points out that KLTY does not always have to utilize an intuitive approach. “We understand what our listeners want and what they like,” he states. “We also know what they dislike. They know what to expect when they punch the dial to us.”
There is, in Peroyea’s words, “absolutely zero” teaching or preaching on the station. “Our research shows that many people who are not of strong faith listen to KLTY. Plain and simple: People go to KLTY for our music. For many years, we had the highest level of P1 listening. I don’t know if that still stands true but I know it is high. We get many second preference listeners from across the board.”
For the past two decades, Frank Reed has anchored morning drive duties at Dallas’ KLTY. The genial Reed, years ago, was WNBC’s mid-day talent, thus the buffer separating that New York City station’s then wakeup talent Don Imus from afternoon driver Howard Stern. “Frank is as strong as ever and resonates with our listeners,” Peroyea declares. “They relate to him because he is so down-to-earth. There are no airs about him.”
Author/actress Starlene Stringer is Reed’s sidekick, as well as the station’s news director and is a 16-year KLTY veteran. It has been roughly that long that aforementioned mid-day talent Bonnie Curry has been with the station. Afternoon drive personality Tony Lopez is like a newcomer, with Peroyea joking, “He has ‘only’ been here nine years. Andrea is our nighttime talent and has been here going on 16 years. She does a Delilah-type show and we just syndicated her across the Salem Music Network.”
In light of each on-air talent’s extensive history with the contemporary Christian property, Peroyea reasonably comments, “You can check in here – but you can’t leave. Longevity in our team makes all the difference in the world. There is no stopping a radio station with a true team spirit. There is a great working environment here so we have very little turnover. It is not a sweatshop, but rather a fun environment. We roll up our sleeves though when we need to.”
There are several times in the course of a day when Peroyea walks around the building to visit with his staff. From those conversations, he is able to learn what is transpiring in an employee’s personal life. “Letting them know you care about them is an important aspect of managing stations,” he maintains. “I make a point to visit with every smiling face I can find.”
For all practical purposes, KLTY is an adult contemporary station that plays contemporary Christian music, which Peroyea describes as being mass appeal. “People feel comfortable with it and find it is inspiring, positive, and uplifting.”
Record label representatives understand how the station operates and are generally respectful of its position. “We are very strict and particular on the music we play,” Peroyea points out. “We will research a record to be sure our audience won’t be driven away if we play it. It has to be solid for us to let it on the air. Artists in this format are good people. It is a pleasure to be around them – some are real superstars.”
This was the 22nd year that KLTY presented “Celebrate Freedom,” a free, all-day, concert at (THE) Southfork Ranch of “Dallas” fame. Usually scheduled on or close to July 4, this year’s event took place June 30. “We bring in top-notch artists from around the world,” explains Peroyea. “There are generally 16 – 18 groups or artists.”
Well over 100,000 people attend each year and Peroyea notes, “We got on the cover of Newsweek once because the conditions were so muddy. Amy Grant – who has been successful in contemporary Christian, adult contemporary, and country – has played this event many times for us, and she was at this year’s show. Our listeners love her. We love her too because she is a lot of fun to be around.”
In addition to managing KLTY, Peroyea oversees Christian talk KWRD; business talk KVCE; Spanish Christian KTNO; and talk KSKY. Certainly aware of in-market competition, he nonetheless tends to focus on his own stations. “I don’t keep a periscope out and watch what other stations do,” he remarks. “We won’t let it bother us if a station messes up a contest we have been doing for years. It is flattering if someone copies what you do, but it is also silly and there is a lot of that in this market. The secret sauce is we just do fun radio. I just wish someone else would come up with some good ideas that we might be able to copy.”
Sample KLTY Music Mix
In an early-evening segment last night (Thursday, 9-6), listeners to Dallas Contemporary Christian KLTY heard the following 20 songs.
Tree 63 “Blessed Be Your Name”
Rich Mullins “Sometimes By Step”
David Crowder Band “Wholly Yours”
For King & Country “For Proof of Your Love”
Toby Mac “Hold On”
Josh Wilson “Fall Apart”
Rhett Walker Band “When Mercy Found Me”
Aaron Shust “My Savior My God”
Chris Tomlin “I Will Follow”
Jason Gray “Good To Be Alive”
Natalie Grant “Live For Today”
Sidewalk Prophets “You Love Me Anyway”
Kutless “All Who Are Thirsty”
Laura Story “Mighty To Save”
Russ Lee “I Smile”
Matthew West “Forgiveness”
Forever Jones “Hold Me Still”
Andy Chrisman “Believe”
Jeremy Camp “Overcome”
Mike Kinosian is the managing editor and West Coast bureau chief of RadioInfo. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com or phoned at 818-985-0244.