Why Political Could Be Huge For Radio Next Year


Leah Casterlin, founding partner, Media Fortitude Partners (pictured here with Radio Ink Editor Ed Ryan), had some very good news for radio at Forecast 2020, Wednesday. She told attendees that the challenges both television and digital are up against could result in a big political advertising win for radio in 2020.

Casterlin says 2020 will be a good year politically for radio because every cycle the budget increases. “It gets to a point where TV is just too saturated, they are charging insane rates which issue advertisers will pay, and the clutter is out of control. You see that every year, more and more, so I think radio will be a good space that is more cost efficient and cuts through the clutter.”

Casterlin also said this will be the first presidential cycle that TV will be hampered by the cord-cutting crowd. “It’s a serious problem. I think that will cause buyers not to put as much money into the TV bucket and look for other places. Radio can be a great space for that. We need to put money into OTT and CTV, but it’s still kind of the wild wild west. It’s going to be a few years before its pinned down and we know exactly what we have to spend there. So in the meantime I think radio is going to be a good space to take some of that budget away.”

So what can radio managers do to be more aggressive in getting that political revenue moved over to radio? “Competitive is everything. Radio has a leg up over the digital space because they can track competitive. They have the FCC regulations, they have to report it. The digital space does not have to and usually can’t be competitive. A lot of times the most important thing to a campaign is what the other side is doing. It’s not even what we are doing, but what the other side is doing. So if you can really get that buttoned up and have competitive reports and reach out to the advertisers as soon as you get an order, that can really help gin up business.”

And finally, now that the brand new shine is scraping off the new digital toy, radio could also benefit from that. “With Twitter recently saying they’re not going to take political ads, other platforms are under pressure to follow. With the misinformation on the social platforms and the Internet, it’s worrisome. I think it might cause political advertisers to be more hesitant about putting as much money into the digital space. That leads to a great opportunity for radio to take away some of those dollars. It’s scary to a lot of campaigns because they don’t want to be in places where there could be fake news.”


  1. We’ll see, but we expect very little next year from national and state-wide candidates. Those agencies are still buying what they bought twenty years ago: talk radio, sports and, in our area (WV) country. So with two AC’s and a classic rock we expect little.

    On the local races–yes. Two of our stations cover several counties, with no radio competition, only weekly newspapers. So the candidates come to us–and we actively seek out the rest.


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