I Tried Radio And It Didn’t Work


(By Tom LeVine) Broadcasters I know care deeply when they hear these painful words.
At the same time, I’ve never heard someone say “medical care doesn’t work,” or “surgery and hospitals don’t work.” Yet, the principles are largely the same.

That’s because we just know too many people who feel better after receiving medicine or surgery. Even when someone dies after receiving the best treatment available, I’ve never heard someone say that health care “just doesn’t work.”

Broadcasters (and clients) have experienced so many advertising success stories that the radio efficacy question was answered long ago.

If your doctor prescribes medicine for ten days … you might actually feel better after the first day. Or, you may need the full ten days to see improvement. A good doctor will manage your expectations — and caution you to take your pills for the full ten days.

Radio advertisers may get results on that very first day. Advertising clients may even say that they should get response on the first day of their advertising prescription. You’ve probably taken medicine that needed time to “build up” in your bloodstream. When you advertise on the radio, you build “accumulated impressions.” This gets results.

True broadcast professionals are honest. They tell clients about the need for consistency and longevity. Patients need patience.

Today, we live in a world in which medical treatments are customized to particular patients, and this is the way broadcast advertising must work, too. If you sell furniture, the buying cycle for a sofa averages four months. This requires strong advertising consistency and a smart ad schedule. Ads for concerts or sporting events are different. “Taylor Swift is coming to the Sports Arena! Tickets available now! (Website address).” Even a short-term, 10-second ad campaign will work immediately. So, really, the offer is the primary generator of response in time.

Most radio malpractice comes from dosage problems.

Great medications may still fail if the dosage is not concentrated. If a radio station creates a terrific ad for you, but then it is broadcast just once a day between 5 am and midnight, listeners won’t hear it enough to accomplish your goals. (One ad a day between 7 am – 9 am has a much better chance).

Sometimes business leaders will launch their own local talk show, and then enlist friends to be sponsors. This can work, but advertisers need to be patient and reasonable in their expectations for their ad in once-a-week shows. Increasingly, this is where “I tried radio and it didn’t work” stories originate.

What is your target audience? Your core message? Your unique place in the market? What problem do you solve? What emotions will the listener feel when you solve their problems?  If I know this, I can create a successful message and broadcast schedule for you.

Tom LeVine, SD Radiance Advertising he can be reached at (760) 415-6055.


  1. In my early days of radio I had to sell, advertising to supplement my meager on air pay…It is called paying your dues. I had a potential client always tell me, “no one listens to your radio station” One day after working an all night shift live from 10 pm until 6 AM In a small to medium market. I went home after my shift and took a shower and got dressed for my few hours on the street trying to sell the station airtime with its little rate card. I went back to the furniture shop where the store owner said, “No one listens to your radio station”…at that point I had no sense of humor so I said. I will make a deal with you. if I can prove you wrong will you buy a few 30 seconds spots? OK…he said. At that point, I thought what the heck. I told him that I would go back to the station and do an AD FOR him FREE and it will say. IF YOU CAN HEAR THIS AD….please go to (so and so) Furniture store and tell the owner that you heard his ad, he will then give you $20.00 in cash. I never did the run the ad but it was worth it to see this guy back pedal…49 years ago. I will always smile when I think of how he tried to take back his statement. People listen to radio…just as long has the audience is the star. Radio come HOME…. time to look at a new way. On air, personalities are just the conduit. Yes, I am still on the air today and no I never went back to that store.

    • Denny:
      Thanks so much for your thoughts here. That’s a great story. I think so many of us who work to serve our advertisers started out like we did … on the air, but needing more income and looking for ways to stay in radio for the love of it. The hard times can (and do) make us better. I love radio people and their stories so much … people who understand the power of ideas and the spoken word. I’ve never seen anything as powerful (and yet so underrated) as radio. I believe we should take much more pride in radio and the way it serves people and communities.


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