Why Radio Doesn’t Drink Its Own Kool-Aid

Sometimes a blog post slaps in the head, and makes you think, “well duh, why didn’t I think of that.” This one is courtesy of Larry Rosin of Edison Research who wrote the following:

I get frustrated with this argument that the only issue with radio is that it ‘doesn’t tell its story.’  The issue for radio is not that it doesn’t have a clever catchphrase, and it’s not that its CEOs don’t represent radio well.

To me, the way radio needs to tell its story is by buying into its own B.S. and that means advertising the stations.  I believe the reason advertisers nail radio with comments like ‘no one is listens to the radio anymore’ is in large part because they don’t see radio stations anymore.  They don’t see stations on billboards and they don’t see stations on TV and they don’t get things in the mail and they don’t hardly ever see radio station personalities at events around town.

If radio went back to marketing the stations and the personalities, the whole ‘perception’ issue would quickly take care of itself.

Now that I’ve read it, I feel like a complete meatball for not having thought of it. Additionally, one knows a blog post is solid when others are compelled to share their perspective in the comments section.

There was an ad agency in Miami, The Ad Team, years ago that used to say “advertising, it worked so well for our clients, we thought we would try it ourselves” in an ad campaign for their services that ran on local radio stations.

 – Michael Dalfonzo

I think it’s even more than advertising themselves – radio stations need to understand what their unique selling proposition is.

It was interesting wandering round Toronto recently, where radio stations are marketing themselves all over the place (hardly surprisingly, since the radio corps also own the billboards up there). Half marketed themselves on music. Half on the personalities on the station. The reason to listen to them, not to Pandora, Spotify, or Google Play Music.

Merely marketing yourself as the “number one hit music station” or “Nowhereville’s best music variety” is hardly showing your unique selling proposition – which, if radio needs reminding, is a human connection with their audience.

Market the talent, the local connection, the people. And give the “better music mix” a rest. That’s not a unique selling point for radio any more.

– James Cridland, radio futurologist

So I took to Twitter and asked my sports radio friends to weigh in.

Smart and talented OKC radio host Zach McCrite, who also has a great podcast called About Sports Radio adds “the goal of advertising is to get your money back tenfold, right?”

free-brady-billboardClearly he has a point but doesn’t it seem like something’s missing from the conversation? It’s easy to point fingers when it’s not your ass on the line, but one still has to wonder why radio groups don’t use TV and outdoor advertising more often? Here’s what I’ve heard and seen.

  1. Billboards are #$%^&@! expensive. It’s true, they are, thus it can be stressful to spend that cash without a guaranteed return on investment.
  2. TV is even more expensive, and, I’ve heard, the audience you gain from it disappears after a few months.

Right? Wrong? I honestly don’t know but clearly doing nothing is a disaster.

With all this said, I do believe that via great execution of content, TV partnerships (get your show on local sports outlet), social-media and simply being where the people are (remotes, internet), a station can make an impact. But if push comes to shove, I’ll take baseball play-by-play partnerships (162 dates of cume!) over outdoor advertising all day, every day.

About Owen 181 Articles
Current sports radio talent coach, former PD at The Beast 980 (L.A.) and 710 ESPN Seattle who was also lucky enough to produce ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick Show. Fixing sports radio one neglected host at a time. Follow me on Twitter @SportRadioCoach.