Show Sponsors: A Checklist


(By Jeff McHugh) U.S. radio ad revenue is flat at best, some companies are losing money, and 2018 could be another tough year. Today’s successful on-air talent is stepping up the initiative in assisting the sales team in securing advertising sponsorships.

Imagine your show as a NASCAR racing car covered in sponsor logos; done correctly, sponsorships fuel your victories without slowing you down at all. They make that salary increase you hope for more possible. Sponsorships may also prevent your show from being cost-cut and replaced by syndication.

Here is a checklist of recommended sponsorship ideas to consider with station management.

First, remember that an important distinction in sponsorships is determining if it is sponsor name only or sponsor name and tag. The tag should be about 10-12 words maximum.

On the show

  • Traffic reports: name and tag
  • Weather reports: name and tag
  • News: name and tag
  • Sports: name and tag
  • Benchmark features (weird news, War Of The Roses, etc.) name only
  • Hourly sponsors (this hour of the show brought to you by..) name only
  • Games: name only in the intro, sponsor prize mention at the end.

Out of stop-sets

A pre-recorded unit that airs just before returning to music can take care of sponsor needs without causing tune-out.

  • Show sponsors: (the show is sponsored by ____…) name only
  • Website giveaways: (enter at to win…) name and prize mention
  • Text/phone line reminders: (text us on the Toyota text line at ___) name only
  • Remote reminders: (meet Mancow at Water Tower Place tomorrow…) name and event address

 After the show

Most stations could better promote their morning shows outside morning drive. Build units into the clock every hour and a place for a sponsorship. Read copy in the host’s voice, if possible.

  • Morning show clip promo: name and tag
  • Station promos: we advocate that morning hosts replace the station voice-over in promos when possible to create more awareness. Name and tag.
  • Listen-tomorrow teasers: (listen tomorrow when we talk about ____) tag only.
  • Giveaway tomorrow teasers: (tune in tomorrow to win ____) tag only
    • Note: “tomorrow teasers” do not drive much tune-in, but they create sponsor space and some name awareness for the show.


  • Sponsor at the beginning: name and tag
  • Sponsor in the middle: full commercial
  • Sponsor at the end: name and tag
    • Note: To increase potential revenue, look into active insertion software that will update ad copy when old podcasts are downloaded months or years from now.

Charities and good causes

Create sponsor space any time that your show serves the community.

  • Promo: tag only
  • Product donations: invite sponsor to donate goods or services to help the cause, thank them and describe their product for a moment on the air
  • Live on-air mention: name only
  • Phone line sponsor: (call the Suburban Chevy donation line now…) name only

Remember: entertainment first, sponsorship second. Listener attention spans are shorter than ever, so save advertiser copy for the end of segments, the end of promos, and for the last position in stop-sets.

Jeff McHugh is known for developing remarkable talent for both morning and afternoon drive. He brings an uncommon mix of positivity, creativity, and strategy to the shows that he coaches. He is a member of the team at the Randy Lane Company.


  1. Hi Jeff, I work for a Country Radio Network in Nashville, TN. Our host is very prestigious in country radio. We have over 130 affiliates that carry our show, and a flagship station in Nashville is about to become one too. I am in the process of hunting down a sponsor. We have never actively searched like this. Our last sponsor kind of fell into our laps. Now, it is slow going. I said all of this to ask what would be that one thing that would pique interest. I think my pitch is good because I have lined up demos with potential sponsors but the perception from them is more or less curiosity than real interest. Also, they have a habit of ending communication altogether after they have heard from the CEO’s pitch regarding our reach and what we can do for them. Does the number of affiliates need to increase? Or is it our asking price? If you still monitor this website and forum, please let me know. Have a great one!

  2. Jock: “My trip to the bathroom to change the toilet paper rolls is a presentation of Big Clyde Muldoon’s Cherry Used Vee-hicles. Remember: Buy your ride from Big Clyde.”

    Sure. Listeners just can wait for more innocuous interruptions in what would, otherwise, be a perfectly flat listening experience.


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