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Enough "We Need A New Story" Talk

Your piece on 12/4 about the radio industry needing someone to tell its story compelled me to chime in. Every time I hear some radio executive say “Radio needs to reinvent itself,” I just want to hurl. Radio needs to sell what it is proudly, and keep the emphasis on our audience and what they can buy.

Let’s get over being a hat-in-hand backup media and sell radio as a primary media. Since 1978, I’ve sold radio on that basis with one little phrase – “Dollar for dollar and time for time – if those two are equal, radio gets results equal to – OR BETTER THAN – any other media.”

To solve a problem, you must first identify what’s causing it. In radio’s case, we’re famous for these five things:
1)      Stations battling each other for a “share” of every ad buy.
2)      Telling clients competing station’s audiences are “bad” – but theirs are “good.”
3)      Selling radio to “back up” TV and print campaigns to help them work better.
4)      Owners and managers near total failure to understand the importance of pricing integrity.
5)      Buying into the “Zero Sum Game” – if the client buys my station, I win and my competitor loses.

Social media is the new darling of the ad world and a new Pew Research study says 50 percent of U.S. adults are on Facebook, MySpace or Linkedin, while Arbitron research tells us that 92 percent of U.S. adults use radio every week – and something like 87 percent use radio every day! 

For an advertiser, the real difference between social media and radio, besides radio’s huge audience advantage, is people HATE ads on social media, while they welcome ads on the radio! The problem we have is agencies and clients are drinking the Kool-Aid of “proven delivery” and “intangible results” being pandered to them with online, as opposed to mass reach and frequency that’s available every day using radio.

Somebody call the RAB. If they’re the ones charged with telling radio’s story, they need to replace “the Optimum Effective Schedule” with “dollar for dollar” before it’s too late!

Charlie Ferguson is the General Manager of Northern Broadcast and can be reached at

(12/10/2012 3:32:59 PM)
I think Charlie has unearthed onlines dirty little secret here, one that will be difficult for medium to overcome in the near term:

"For an advertiser, the real difference between social media and radio, besides radio’s huge audience advantage, is people HATE ads on social media"

Listeners have been programmed to tolerate (or maybe even 'like') advertising messages on radio for nearly a century. Who do you know that has any reaction besides loathing when confronted by pop ups?

- Brew
(12/9/2012 3:22:43 PM)
In addition to "Social Media", Radio is also
"Mobile Media"!


- DAVE "Giff" Gifford
(12/8/2012 2:56:01 PM)
My writing partner was just one of those guys, mike.
Today he is delivering morning newspapers in the dead of winter from an old beater jalopy.

The guy was a huge talent and a sweet fella, but the day came when the station (part of a conglomerate) decided he was making too much dough and replaced him with a junior hack who would fall back on "...for all your _____needs...".

There lies more evidence of the thugs and scoundrels railroading this business right over a cliff.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(12/7/2012 3:47:07 PM)
I saw a station in Nebraska advertising for a Continuity Director today. I didn't know radio stations still had those but the truly good ones are indispensible.

While I agree with Ronald that listeners "tolerate" spots more than look forward to them, the "just tolerating this" to "I actually enjoyed that - oh and who was that store again?" scale moves more toward the enjoyment side when spots are entertaining and memorable.

I have worked for a lot of radio stations in over 40 years. In all that time I worked with ONE genuinely talented copywriter, whose material was a joy to produce, was fun to listen to, and still actually sold the product.

Trouble is radio can't or won't pay these people enough. But this guy's work increased the "fun factor" of the station and that is golden.

- radiomike
(12/6/2012 6:34:20 PM)
I don't know if "Upers" are allowed to haul on the holy weed, but yes, "tolerate" is the case. We could add: "or not" to the possibilities, as well.

But, that is the goal - to create spots that are not only influential but become a treasured part of Programming. ("That station plays some great freakin' spots, man. Doob?")

- Ronald T. Robinson

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