Reversing The Declining Listener Trend. Day Two


In our continuing series with industry leaders about the 2022 Jacobs Media Techsurvey Tuesday, which showed a downward trend line of radio listenership, we hear from David Santrella, Joel Oxley and Ed Levine today.

“There’s more competition for radio than ever before but I actually think you would see that listening to content from broadcasters is significantly greater when you factor in streamed listening to radio plus broadcaster owned and distributed podcasts. Just at Salem alone, our very niche’ based podcasts on the Salem Podcast Network get millions of monthly downloads. And all of that (radio, stream, podcasts) combined is our audience to influence and ears that we monetize to advertisers.”
David Santrella
Salem Media

1) “Have a flexible clock. Almost every station I listen to is not even close to sold out. I hear promos, PSA’s and extra network commercials filling up very long stop-sets. When you are not sold out take your inventory down. A lot. We all know more content wins, but it’s a lot easier just to keep the same clock. Even during slow periods like the Holidays and first quarter the commercial loads never go down. Stop being lazy. Pay attention.

2) Convert unprofitable stations to formats that target people in their 20’s. You’d be hard pressed to find a market that doesn’t have multiple full-market FM commercial stations that are not making money. They have multiple hours a day that get 0.1’s and 0.0’s. They are propped up by spreading out expenses from more profitable stations. Instead of keeping that second AC or third rock station try something that appeals to younger people. And according to the Jacobs info it’s not Alternative. They’re already gone to satellite. Think differently. Take chances. Our industry predominately does formats that appeal to boomers, programmed by boomers with boomer talent. I like boomers. I am one. I’m out of demo. The youngest boomer is 58. Get people, consultants, researchers and formats that appeal to listeners who are 25-34, if not 18-24.

3) Be local. Even if it’s in your voice tracking. Find a way to talk about things that mean something in your format in your community. There’s a million ways to get entertainment, pop-culture and “interesting” news on your mobile. Satellite does that too with their music stations. Be different. Be local. That’s different. And not as easily found on listener’s cell phones. And, if done right, relevant.
Joel Oxley
Senior VP/General Manager
Hubbard DC

I think we have to define the issue into “what’s ideal” and “what is actually something that can happen. Reducing the amount of commercials by 30% is “ideal”. That simply is not realistic for a basic reason: with all of the competitors that linear radio faces boosting up rates 30% to make up for the loss of revenue will simply not fly with the advertising/ business owner community. And no sane owner is going to agree to a revenue decrease. So lets leave that to the pontificators to pontificate about .

But hey it sounds great. So let’s talk about what CAN happen…remember when you and your competitor(s)would engage in battles over who was buying the most TV ads to promote your radio station ?Back in my PD days, we once gave away MULTIPLE brand new Corvettes on the air and then promoted that fact with a major marketing campaign all over town .

When is the last time that your radio station did a significant TV marketing or outdoor campaign ? Or gave away significant prizes, cash or otherwise to a LOCAL winner? I’m not counting the bogus nationwide contests. Before you say “we have no budget for that “ my first hand experience is that your local TV station is more willing to do a reciprocal trade campaign than they may have been 10 or 20 years ago, as they have largely the same problem as local radio.

Remember when every third car had a bumper or window sticker from a local radio station on their car ? Would a sticker on the back of an Android or iPhone be the modern equivalent . Or maybe on a car? Would it still work ? Everything old is new again .

The general point I’m making is that we all are in the entertainment business . Marketing and advertising products for companies is how we pay the bills. .Somewhere along the way, we decided we no longer needed to market ourselves That has turned out to be major mistake. We have been too focused on the fact that the radio station across the street isn’t advertising so “we don’t need to “ . Meanwhile, Pandora and Spotify and Sirius etc all had their moments of being the new “toy”. While local radio just kept silent and slowly went from being top of mind to out of mind .
We are in the marketing business . It’s time to practice what we preach!
Ed Levine
Galaxy Media

Check out Day One of our series HERE.


  1. The picture of the young lady holding the radio to her ear something I have not seen in 20 years.
    The only way I’ve found to survive is to do it all, and never let up 24/7. Live productions with an engineer…Audio, video, multiple cameras, podcasting, archiving, remotes… make your station necessary to more and more people over time.
    Live it and breathe it and all the while, come up with new ways to make everything sound like its a major big budget production.
    Then, do it all over again the next day and the next day and the day after that, as if the survival of your business depends on it, because it does.


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