Telling Radio’s Best Story The Best Possible Way

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(Guest Commentary by Larry Rosin) While Nielsen’s ratings data shows how big broadcast radio’s reach is, and Edison Research’s Share of Ear report helps commercial radio assert its primacy among ad-supported audio options, many people in radio continue to face skeptical media buyers and planners who think that “no one is listening to the radio anymore.”

While we know the audience is out there, and indeed thousands upon thousands of advertisers can feel the impact of their messages at the cash register, in site views, or in promo-code redemptions, commercial radio continues to say that it “needs to more effectively tell its story.”

Recently, I experienced broadcast radio – commercial radio – telling its story in the most meaningful way. While I have worked with, and donated to, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for over 10 years, I had never before attended one of their “radiothons.” I joined a group of 10 from Edison Research who traveled to nearby Teaneck New Jersey to volunteer on the Univision stations’ efforts to support the St. Jude children. Five from our bilingual staff answered the phones, and the rest of us helped with data entry and other tasks.

While everything about the experience was remarkable, what struck me was how powerful an example it was of just how well radio messages work. One could easily tell when the on-air team was talking about St. Jude and encouraging the audience to give, as the phones would instantly respond. Then, periodically the talent would come into the room with the phones and ask the audience to make them ring. Blammo. Every line would fill.
It really was amazing. Of course, the most important aspect was Univision raising an enormous sum to help St. Jude find cures and save lives.

But at the same time, from my perspective, it served as a nearly perfect research project. Can we create a test to show that radio is listened to and moves consumers to act? There is no need to invent one, as at fundraisers like these, all year long, radio is proving its power.

It’s pretty obvious that helping worthy causes raise money is good for the charity being supported. But I have argued consistently that doing radiothons and other fundraisers is good for radio. Working with charities builds goodwill, solidifies the relationship between the listeners and the stations, and emphasizes the kinds of things that broadcasters do that streamers, at least to date, don’t do.

In addition, radio needs to add it to the ways it “tells its story.” Get your clients to volunteer and get involved in these radiothons. They will witness first-hand the influence radio has on its audience. Nothing could tell radio’s “story” in a more effective way.

Larry Rosin is President of Edison Research and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

2 COMMENTS

  1. Radio is in deep trouble. It is unfortunate that Terrestrial owners and GM’S do not realize it. 18- to 25 year olds do not listen. Start programming for the last audience that grew up with radio. Bring back personalities and stop voice tracking. It is so simple, give the audience something to keep them and be a part of your station. Take a look at some of the great stations of the past. Where are they today? Doing fundraisers is nice but it is not what builds a strong listener base.

  2. Awesome observation by a guy who has seen it all. I appreciate Larry relating his experience and can echo it as our stations have been a part of the St. Jude Radiothon for many years and we have seen the impact with our own eyes. Thanks Larry!

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