Solutions for Commercial Clutter

For three, possibly four, decades listeners have been telling the researchers stations hire that they hate radio commercials.

In the 1960’s Marlin Taylor and Jerry Lee, Jim Schulke and Bill Drake among others took a shot at fixing the problem.

Taylor and Lee, at what was the forerunner to today’s MoreFM in Philadelphia, ran four commercials an hour, one every 15 minutes – a little more, not much in drive time.  The ratings soared and the ad rates quadrupled.

Schulke who ran SRP, the successful syndicated instrumental music format had similar restrictions.

And hit stations, adult contemporary and talk stations had so much garbage on them that they were unlistenable so Drake limited the loads to 12 spots an hour on his client RKO stations.  Many imitators followed.

They all succeeded.

Eventually most of the stations gave in and added back the irritations so that they could make more money.

And today, with radio barely able to get their rates, giving away tons of bonuses and more advertiser-preferred short commercials, it’s bedlam.

What a bad time to give up sniffing glue as they said in Airplane.  In other words you couldn’t pick a worse time than now to be dealing with a clutter problem and a diminished rate problem.

Radio needs the listeners AND the revenue.

There is one type of commercial that is an absolute tune-in among all age groups.  How about doing more of them for starters.

But then there are agency spots that radio can’t change.

There is something that can be done in the middle of stop sets that will force listening to continue, but no one has done it as simple as it is.

There’s lots of evidence that running two overweight commercial stop sets an hour would be better off becoming four or even six – the rationale being shorter attention spans like more interruptions.  There’s something to it.

A neat little trick on how you organize long vs. very short commercials that won’t lose a listener and promises to keep more tuned in.

And there is a word you must never say on-air because it makes listeners flee.

You can always run fewer spots, or can you?  Times are tough.

And you can make better commercials with a proven record for impressive results and listener satisfaction. 

I guess what I am saying is that considering what a game breaker commercials are for radio stations that need to run them, shouldn’t we have a conversation about new and effective ways to mitigate the damage …

That’s where we’ll pick it up at the upcoming The 2017 Radio Solutions Conference

All New Curriculum for 2017:  1) Reducing High Advertiser Churn, 2) Strategies for Ending Rampant Rate Cutting; 3) Attracting Millennial Listeners; 4) Rebuilding Eroding Radio Audiences; 5) The Morning Show of the Future; 6) Eliminating the 3 Biggest Listener Objections to Radio; 7) Listen Longer Strategies;  8) Solutions to Commercial Clutter; 9) Digital That Makes Money; 10) Underground AM Stations; 11) Podcasting, Yes or No?  Details …

Rebuilding Eroding Audiences

There are 86 million Millennials (20-36 years old).

75 million Baby Boomers (53-71).

44 million Gen Xers (37-52).

One format doesn’t please all of them.

One medium doesn’t please all of them.

Boomers are radio positive.

Xers listen to radio but they invented the term “radio sucks” as children so that relationship is somewhat ambivalent.  And they’ve strayed from their parent’s talk radio rejecting the politics for podcasting.

Millennials are least likely to use or even like radio that is not the radio of their parent’s day.  Unfortunately, consolidation occurred right when these kids were growing up and they had computers, Napster, iPods, iPhones, streaming music services, Netflix and a host of other distractions.

If radio can be faulted for anything, it is offering only one size to fit all generations and sub-generations.

The same formats – no, I’m wrong – fewer formats available to the three generations mentioned above.

And there are over 20 million of the oldest generation – the Silents – still alive and very much kicking but no radio stations for them, not even on paid satellite radio.

Educator and former New Jersey broadcaster Dick Taylor has been positing that maybe we live in an era of radio overpopulation.  Too many radio stations – an intriguing thought.  And I’m not counting translators.

Might I add, too many of the same stations doing the same thing to a target audience that is impossible to please with any one format.

Consolidation would have worked best if owners developed winning formats aimed at three segments of baby boomers, and two types of Millennials and even offered something for the oldest of listeners.

I’m oversimplifying this to make a point.

Radio has abandoned the many types of listeners.  Listeners have not abandoned radio.  They’ve just started to drift away.

We’ve fearfully moved to taking all our many stations and aiming them at the same essentially narrow money demos driven by advertisers.  That’s simply not workable.  Every station cannot be after the same sub-audiences.

Not saying drop everything and play big band music.

But that we need to learn much more about the total available radio universe and then devise channels or formats for them.

Imagine podcasts on-the-air not online aimed at specific target groups supported by advertisers.

AM stations for Millennials and before you laugh, maybe you’d like to be in the audience at my upcoming media conference because this is a great, doable and profitable idea.  (Thinking fidelity is a problem, not with Millennials).

Music stations devoted only to discovering new music, bands and local artists.

Talk stations for working families that answer to their needs as working parents.

An all-news station that sounds like Twitter – delivered in 140 characters all hour, all day.

An advocacy station to help them get a fair shake in life – how compelling would that be on FM or AM?

Imagine if we continue this conversation together …

The 2017 Radio Solutions Conference

All New Curriculum for 2017:  1) Reducing High Advertiser Churn, 2) Strategies for Ending Rampant Rate Cutting; 3) Attracting Millennial Listeners; 4) Rebuilding Eroding Radio Audiences; 5) The Morning Show of the Future; 6) Eliminating the 3 Biggest Listener Objections to Radio; 7) Listen Longer Strategies;  8) Solutions to Commercial Clutter; 9) Digital That Makes Money; 10) Underground AM Stations; 11) Podcasting, Yes or No?  Details …

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