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Devaluing Radio

Research results distributed by marketing entities tout the strength of radio as a strong tool to be used for advertising services, products, experiences, and improvement products, be that for health or the betterment of life. There is no doubt that radio has great distribution. Radio’s reach is one that DSP’s wish they had. What isn’t addressed is the erosion of time spent listening or occasions of listening. The degradation of the listening experience is a problem. It’s one that the DSP’s have solved for and as such presents radio its biggest challenge.

It should be no surprise that radio listening is eroding. The audience listens when they have time and a desire to listen. Digital entities talk about creating sticky content. Be it for a website, a blog, social media, the desire is to create a stickiness that drives clicks. Shouldn’t radio work diligently to create content that’s sticky? Strong programming at night gives you an advantage when it comes to the morning show.

One can drive across America and hear no air talent 7:00pm-6:00am. No talent of any kind. Not a local personality, not a voice-tracked talent, no syndication, and not even a personality created by Artificial Intelligence. There’s no connectivity to a market let alone to a listener. A lot of commercials, some music, a jingle and/or an imaging voice announcing a station positioning statement, produced promotional messages, and more commercials.

It is universally acknowledged that radio airs too many commercials. The 12 minute limit was very much the standard until a few years ago. Things changed dramatically when the unit count maximum was eliminated. Suddenly 12 minutes could be 24 or more commercial messages in an hour. Radio devalues itself and its selling effectiveness when an advertiser’s message is somewhere in the middle of a 10 unit spot cluster.

Radio devalues itself when it bonuses commercials to air 7:00pm-5:00am in order to hit a Cost Per Point for 6:00am-7:00pm. Radio misses a revenue opportunity by not selling sponsorships for the features it airs. Radio leaves money on the table by not selling peak audience hours at a higher rate. Radio sets itself up for failure by not selling the benefit of the demographic and psychographic strength of your audience. Eliminating remote broadcasts takes away a sales tool and an opportunity for an upsell. Remote appearances also act as a marketing tactic to introduce or reinforce your station to the audience.

Where does radio have value? The biggest of the bigs and the most local of the smalls. If you’re at the top of the heap in one of the biggest markets, it is highly likely that you have strong on-air personalities who create daily tune-in, 24/7 entertainment and a maximization of the available weekend audience, a large listenership, in a location that is attractive to national advertisers. You’re promotionally active, create events for your audience, and provide experiences that your advertisers want to be a part of.

If you’re on the top of the heap in a smaller market, you’re one of the most locally focused stations in your community. Many of the same things that matter in the biggest markets matter here, but on a smaller more appropriate scale. Small markets are selling products, services, and the benefit of a community. It’s not so much about the ratings. It’s about the message the audience intakes that leads to supporting advertisers they hear on the station. Marketing becomes being everywhere and being seen everywhere.

Radio has the value that we in radio place on our content, our message, and our approach to delivering on the expectations of the advertiser and the audience. It’s on us to provide that value.

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