How Radio Is Needed Now


(By Eric Rhoads) Yesterday morning, as I read an article by Jay Meyers on LinkedIn, I realized what he was pointing out: the importance of radio’s being ready for the next phases of the resurgence of the coronavirus.

Though it’s impossible to know how states will react if and when the virus returns, my gut says they will try to avoid shutting down their economies again. However, we’re already seeing restaurants moving to reduced capacity or closing, bars shutting down, and some businesses being discouraged from reopening.

Clearly those of us in radio saw a massive dip in revenues when our customers were closed down. We were all blindsided by the virus and a reaction we had never seen before. Now, we know what to expect.

So how will your station respond the next time, assuming there is one?

As I said at the early part of the quarantine, even if there is no business to be had, this is a time to help our clients, so that if they survive, they will remember radio did something more than just beg for business. 

Many stations stepped up to help local businesses, to highlight restaurants open for takeout, etc. And we need to continue this attitude even now, because many are not in a position to advertise. Many are holding on for their lives. Maybe our help can make the difference between their surviving or not.

We don’t want to awaken from this nightmare with 50% fewer local businesses than before. Therefore, now is the time action is required.

What if you were to create a small business COVID task force, sponsored by your station? Hold a Zoom call with several businesses and ask them to make recommendations for things your station should be preparing for now to help local businesses. Also ask what else we can do to help them get back on their feet.

During the quarantine, in my art business, I started interviewing clients on Zoom calls, and not only did we make lifetime friends, we actually helped them sell. This is something your airstaff could be doing with every client. Putting new clients on your stations’ media daily, even if they are not paying advertisers, will deepen their interest in your survival and make them want to one day return the favor.

Ask yourself these questions:

  •  What will happen if we see 50% of our local advertisers out of business if we don’t help?
  •  In what ways can we help where no ad schedule is required?
  •  How can we bring attention to these clients and bring them business?
  •  Which product categories need the most help?
  •  What categories will go into lockdown with a resurgence, and how do we help them then?
  •  In what ways could we have done a better job of serving our community and advertisers during the big quarantine months?
  •  What do we need to do next time?

I’d like to see you make two plans…

One for a future lockdown,

One to get business on its feet.

We can’t always be short-term thinkers. We’re in it for the long haul, and they need radio now.

Eric Rhoads is Chairman of Radio Ink Magazine and Streamline Publishing and can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]


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