Here Are Three Things Radio Needs To Do Better


And they come from the EVP of Corporate Marketing for Cumulus and Westwood One President Suzanne Grimes, who is one of Radio Ink‘s 2017 Most Influential Women in Radio. Grimes was recently singled out by Cumulus CEO Mary Berner in Cumulus’ latest earnings call after Berner reported Westwood One had a “significantly positive performance in the quarter.”

Berner said, “It’s not a coincidence that the business had its best quarter in years just about a year after we brought in a single leader at the top who has a comprehensive view of and accountability for the entire network business.”

Grimes was brought into her new position back in December of 2015. She’s the former President and Chief Operating Officer of Clear Channel Outdoor North America. Grimes is responsible for developing corporate marketing, and sales execution strategies that support revenue across Cumulus. As President of Westwood One, she’s the general operator, overseeing the strategic direction and execution of the network’s operations, programming, and advertising partnerships.

Grimes will appear in Radio Ink’s Most Influential Women in Radio issue set to be released on June 19. In our interview we asked her what she’d like to see the radio industry do better. And her answer was very detailed.

“#1 – Call on brands and planners and tell the story of audio. Prove how AM/FM radio is the centerpiece of American audio. #2 – Market to advertisers on our air. We have a 93% reach, let’s use it! Your clients and prospects are listening. Prove impact. #3 – We need to conduct more ROI and sales lift studies. We have to prove results.

In sum, I want radio to take its “story” back! Radio gave birth to many of the audio innovation trends we are talking about today. It has incredible ROI and reach — but radio also has a human thread that connects us through trust, connection, and community. It’s really a great story.”

Here is more from our interview with Suzanne Grimes

Radio Ink: What are you doing to make the radio industry stronger?
Grimes: I’ve been focused on telling our incredibly powerful narrative to a broader audience to bring new revenue to the radio industry. Advertisers want proof of impact. In response, Westwood One has conducted dozens of sales and brand lift studies. We then share the findings with the entire industry. You can access these studies and sales insights on the Westwood One blog (

For example, we worked with Nielsen on behalf of an auto aftermarket retailer to measure the sales lift of their entire radio campaign. Nielsen matched PPM commercial audiences with spending from their credit card database from 70 million homes. The result? Radio delivered a stunning $21 ROI. For every dollar of radio advertising, twenty-one dollars of incremental sales were generated. If you average all the retail ROI studies Nielsen has conducted, radio generates 10 dollars of sales for every dollar of radio advertising… that’s undeniable proof of results and impact.

Radio Ink: What advice can you offer readers on how to be successful?
Grimes: Building a successful career in radio is not fundamentally different from building a successful career most anywhere. First off, it helps to love what you do because you can’t fake passion, and passion and commitment overcome a lot of obstacles. Beyond that, put in the time, be intellectually curious, take risks, emulate those you admire, and work your tail off.

Specific to radio, it’s paramount that you constantly think about your audience and remain laser focused on the listener and their experience with your station and your content. Build that unique relationship rooted in community and companionship and trust. On the sales side, you need to trumpet the power of audio relentlessly to ensure that radio gets its fair share of media investments today.

Radio Ink: What steps should they take to achieve their goals?
Grimes: From the beginning, you need to define what success looks like for you. That can be a very personal perspective. With that, establish clear and achievable milestones for yourself and hold yourself accountable to them. Furthermore, share your goals and aspirations with your supervisor and your mentors. They can be incredibly helpful in charting the course with you. Oh, and one more thing… be adaptable enough to revise your goals when the unexpected happens, which it inevitably will.

Radio Ink: What is it about you that makes you successful and influential?
Grimes: If you know me, you know I listen more than I speak. I believe our partners, advertisers, audience, and employees hold the key insights into how we can make Cumulus and Westwood One the best company it can be. It’s my responsibility to listen and to then make decisions that lead us to success, but the path to get there belongs to all of us… and I’m there to help remove the obstacles that sometimes get in our way.

Subscribe to Radio Ink in time to receive the 2017 Most Influential Women in Radio issue HERE


  1. We are missing the big picture here! For too long we have kowtowed to the clients when it comes to ad copy. There is a BIG difference between what the client wants to say and what the listener wants to hear. We are so fixated on making the sale that we create copy that caters to the client’s ego, but is full of industry nonsense and useless certifications that gives the listener nothing to respond to. If I hear another radio ad that says ” come to ***** insurance for all your life, health and auto insurance needs” I will vomit. If you don’t think the listener already knows what rooms the furniture goes in then why create copy saying “we have furniture for every room of your home. Your living room, dining room, bedroom, etc”. This is where the creativity makes the ROI happen if we don’t settle for copy that pleases the client and bores the listener. Eventually, they give up when the copy doesn’t draw attention. We have a great medium to reach people repetitively. It’s powerful! However we don’t practice best utilization of our skills, or don’t teach them adequately. We are kicking ass in our group because of this very fact. Big box stores with countless inserts need to wake up and use our service!!

  2. Lifting radio’s revenue is simple and quick: give advertisers what they tell us they want, but as an industry, we’re still refusing to give them.

    Gord Borrell’s studies consistently show that advertisers are calling for media reps to provide over-arching, marketing-focused (instead of radio/media-focused) strategies, with ongoing sales results, directly attributable to their media spend.

    There are a number of time-honored approaches that generate a 10:1 to 100:1 sales lift, with which any broadcaster can generate 52 weeks of advertiser sales results that clients can directly attribute to radio. Having been a part of this – inside, and now outside, of radio ownership – it’s a joy to hear advertisers extol the virtues of actually getting what they need. This in turn, further justifies our existence as not just a medium of choice, but a medium of preference and priority.

    We have a beautiful medium that enjoys the advantageous position to catalyze pre-need, pre-search, pre-purchase behavior; and follow it through the transaction and keep the consumer engaged, post-purchase.
    Let’s give our advertisers our all by giving them the strategies and 52 weeks of documented sales results they need, as they commit more dollars to us as a result. Radio’s challenge is that too few prove themselves as willing to walk that talk.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree. The beginning of the end of live talent was when they began to see themselves as exclusively “programming.”

  4. I couldn’t agree more with Ms Grimmes’ ‘Three Things Radio Needs to Do”
    1.) we can’t leave selling ‘radio’ to our sales people….our top level executives and market managers need to go face to face with top level decision makers and key influencers to tell radio’s story, and every sales presentation needs to have a ‘Why Radio’ segment.
    2.) It never ceases to amaze me that we don’t promote radio on radio! Every time one of our clients runs pro-radio or testimonial spots, the phone rings and new clients come on board.
    3.) I can’t understand why more stations don’t conduct case studies and TOMA surveys to validate radio’s results.
    Common, folks, it’s not rocket science. Like the article says, “it’s no coincidence the business had it’s best quarter in years” by just getting back to basics.


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