Think like an advertiser – and sell your idea

radioBy Peter St. James

Anybody who thinks radio is made up of talk-show hosts, “too-cool-for-school” disc jockeys and an endless supply of music really doesn’t know a lot about broadcasting. Radio is about one thing: money. If station management can make money playing automated reggae music, then that’s what it will do. When the national and local advertising money starts to immigrate to another format or station, then they’ll switch formats quicker than you can say, “Whatever happened to Sarah Palin?”

So even though the program director or station manager supports fishing and hunting, if there’s no money in it, they’ll continue their support of it on the weekends or relegate the program to a non-prime-time slot like 11 o’clock on a Saturday night. No matter how much you argue the benefits to the marketplace (gas, groceries, lodging, restaurants, etc.) unless there’s a dollar sign attached, you might as well save your breath.

The solution isn’t rocket science, nor do I lay claim to being a sales genius. Simply put: Sell your idea.

Now I know that’s easier than it sounds, especially in this economy, but that’s the bottom line. And, it’s not as hard as you may think. Put yourself in the shoes of advertisers. They want the biggest bang for their limited advertising dollars. Do they get that by running a 60-second commercial 20 times a week at varying times between 6 a.m. and midnight on a radio station or as a sponsor of a regular, fixed-time program of interest to them and their potential customers? Think about it. If you sold chain saws, would you rather be part of an outdoor show, or have your spot air during the stock report or during a nationally syndicated political talk show that runs for three hours a day? Advertisers are looking for programming that will allow them to speak to their audience. Problem is, most stations don’t have the imagination or personnel to create an ongoing, locally produced outdoor show.

So instead, try building a series of events throughout the year. One of the most popular broadcast my radio show does is a live broadcast of the annual drawing for moose hunting permits that takes place in June at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. As the winner of each permit is announced, our listeners are glued to the radio (or the Internet, where we always max out our streaming capabilities) for their name or that of a friend or family member. To support the broadcast, we sell various sales packages that include commercials and a live interview during the week of the drawing and links on our Web site. Some clients even provide products so we have listener contests during that week. It’s fun and interactive, the clients get positive response and the station adds billing.

So try packaging a few outdoor events and build on that base of good will and broadcast revenue that you’ve helped to create. Trust me, do it right and the radio stations will be seeking you out for more outdoor ideas! ◊

peterstjamesPeter St. James is a native Maine-er who’s lived in New Hampshire for the past 25 years. His creative efforts have been recognized by the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters, Ad Club of New Hampshire, Associated Press, Association for Conservation Information and OWAA (President’s Award). When not hosting the New Hampshire Wake-Up Show on WTPL-FM (107.7/107.1/94.3/1400AM), St. James is either hunting and fishing somewhere … or thinking about fishing and hunting somewhere. E-mail him at


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