Why Radio Ink Readers Blew Up My E-mail


(By Brian Brian Winnekins ) To say I was overwhelmed by the reaction to my recent article in Radio Ink about my frustrations about working with advertising agencies would be an understatement. My email started going crazy at 4:30 a.m. when I came into work on Monday. I received emails from salespeople, managers, owners, print people, and even agency people with horror stories about either working with radio sales or working with agencies.

I reached out to Ed at Radio Ink and told him how my article struck a nerve and maybe we could do something to try and “fix” this issue or at least start addressing it. He replied, what would you suggest? So, based on Ed’s reply, I’m writing again.

Some themes in the emails that I received were..

  1. “this has been going on for years Brian and no one wants to talk about it”
  2. “agencies have always been like that”
  3. “thank you for saying what needed to be said for years”
  4. “great article but the agencies don’t care”
  5. “great article Brian, but if you had to deal with the radio salespeople I’ve dealt with you would understand why agencies do what they do”
  6. “wow I thought I was the only one that had those issues with agencies”
  7. “great article, I became so frustrated with how I was treated doing sales I finally just gave up and left the business.” In another case the salesperson said they were actively looking to change careers.
  8. “I can’t count how many times I receive terrible copy from an agency and they refuse to let me change it or get mad if I suggest changes”
  9. A production director sent me this: “I’ve seen bathroom wall writing better than the stuff I’ve received from an agency.”

My father taught me that it’s rude to complain and then not try to offer at least a solution, and that I should always be willing to listen and work with someone I disagree with or is on the opposite side of the fence. I may learn something, and even better I may make a new friend. So let’s talk about what is going on in our beloved industry and try and find a way to address some of these problems, both on the sales side and on the agency side.

Now how can we talk about this? One idea I have kicked around is having some type of seminar or “town hall” type of meeting. Maybe have it at the Radio Show, or at NAB Convention. Maybe we can ask Ed and Deborah at Radio Ink real nice to host some type of webinar or broadcast something via the Web from the NAB Convention.

How about getting RAB on the case and maybe they could host some type of regional “town hall” meetings with agencies and radio sales, managers and owners? Design some type of training not only for salespeople but also for the agency buyers? Set up a festivus for the rest of us event at NAB in downtown Las Vegas and we can all meet for an airing of the grievances?

Of course, no one wants to attend something where it devolves into finger pointing and arguing. That solves nothing. So some type of moderator would definitely be needed. I also understand that there will always be “bad actors” who will do what they please without regard to whom they are hurting, but that should not deter us from finding a way forward.

Do you have an idea or suggestion? Respond in the comment section as Ed will keep track, hopefully write a follow-up article, and let’s see if we can get something done! Judging from the responses from both my article and Mr. Christy’s article, we both have struck a nerve. We can all complain on the Internet and point fingers at each other, or we can come together, work out our issues on both sides, and move forward.

Brian Winnekins
WRDN Radio
Durand, WI


  1. Perhaps the RAB could coordinate some talking circles with the 4A’s. This type of thing is part of the 4A’s mission.

  2. In radio sales for over 30 years at a locally owned FM & AM/FM 25 miles from your location, I have seen these problems multiple times and have experienced three main challenges with my agency connections. #1) Rate objections. (I had a 10-year client that bought direct go to agency buys because they guaranteed better pricing. That lasted 8 months until he found they were charging him more and he was getting less response. He’s been back for 15+ years going strong. #2) Insufficient campaign placements. Apparently some think “serving and satisfying” their customer involves any type or size of campaign placement just to add certain #s of media outlets to the list. #3) The “hands-off” attitude by agencies that some of your respondents have mentioned. Some agencies – national and local – have been good, and I am sure some radio sales people have not been. It’s life, and any way you look at it, it’s not a perfect radio sales world out there. My overall solution to continue to be happy and successful in radio sales is to offer clients direct results through effective creative and promotions, and to do that without agencies when possible. That works for me. Sell on…bring results…go radio!

  3. To put this in perspective, I got a copy of an article Paul Weyland did awhile back. One of his points was to have a good negotiation, the radio sales people had to start from the agencies 20-yard line instead of the station’s 20-yard line. There had to be push and pull. As both authors have pointed out, it sounds like radio and the agencies play too much of a “my way or the highway” approach. We need to train people on both sides how to negotiate well, not arrogantly. The weak ones need to show some backbone to the strong ones and not be run over.

  4. If I could hold a seminar it would be titled “never give away remotes”. Our competition does as an “incentive” to new businesses and when they don’t follow up with a buy, it’s on to the next one. Why give away the one thing you can’t buy anywhere else?

  5. I know, I know, this hearkens back to pre-consolidation, but dammit, it worked. Very well.

    My first real radio job was working production at the Cities 97 (KTCJ FM, in Minneapolis) when it was still owned by John and Kathleen. Parker. We sold time with the caveat that: If you are supplying the spot, it must fit our format, and it must conform to our standards, which were high. If the spot didn’t fit the format, or the writing was bad or clunky, we would re-do it. If the agency didn’t agree to it, we wouldn’t run the spot. Period.

    That made a HUGE difference to the overall sound and quality of the station. It was a niche-Triple A and our numbers were always in the high 3s.

  6. NAB usually has an advertiser session like this at its conventions. RAB’s Erica Farber usually moderates and defends the Radio side of the issue. And we hear some insight and such. The issue of bringing good local ideas and local event connections to the agency is always brought up and always encouraged.

    Yet in all these years of hearing this from whichever company is on stage, I’ve never had a seller who could get past the buyer or planner. Would your client want a connection with a Presidential Library Independence Day event that attracts thousands? We’ll never know because no one at your agency will let us ask.

    • If I hear “go to blankety blank insurance for all your auto home and life insurance needs” one more time I’ll scream. Insurance products are mostly the same. Market the Agent!

  7. It’s imperative to “Hear Spot Run.” The objective is to deliver dollars. If young buyers have no connection with radio, the agencies have lost touch with real messaging & mass media. Last year at Forecast, I asked if our plentiful 50+ dollars were no longer any good. Another part of the presentation to put in motion.


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