Is commercial radio really dying? – Part II

Is commercial radio really dying? It sure looks like it. I started talking about this a couple of months ago and was amazed at the response it got. Mainly from radio representatives who feel the pressure of the attitude of “alternative / new sources of income” on the part of the corporations that own large groups of stations in each market. New sources of income are a necessity to meet shrinking budgets and astronomical debt derived from the development of the big broadcast groups.

It’s no longer about selling your product, the whole focus is on the bottom line … not that it hasn’t always been that … but it has changed. Instead of fighting for your share of the budget, your fighting for more “interactive” dollars and non-cash dollars. Your sales quotas have been converted into multi-level financial forms and your income depends on meeting all the criteria.

Remember the days when radio stations’ big sales pitch and sales product were “just 10 units per hour”? It wasn’t long before you were lucky if you listened to 10 minutes of format! The time has changed. Radio reps now have multiple products to sell and their income is based on the quantity of each product they sell. Below is a sample of what you can buy on the radio today.

Gone are the days when reps kept you informed about market changes and how your station was right for the customer. I think they no longer have time to worry. It’s about selling the fee and handing over the end result to your bosses.

  • Weather news
  • Traffic
  • Event station
  • Web Banners
  • Website promotions
  • Mobile apps
  • Text message
  • Email blasts
  • Special features
  • Website Ads
  • Ask “whatever”
  • Non-business hours brought to you by … you guessed it “business”!
  • 30 second places
  • 60 second places
  • 15 second points
  • 10 second points
  • 5 seconds open / close
  • Sponsorships “Cause”
  • Studio Sponsorships
  • Loyal listening clubs
  • Station vehicle sponsorships
  • Block programming
  • Concert sponsorships
  • Social media
  • Online Videos
  • Transmission

The radio rep is DEAD … now we have “Media Specialists”. Gone are the representatives who briefed him on the market and what was going on. Gone are the representatives who informed you about local promotions or accounts entering the market. We hardly see reps anymore, they don’t have time … we get emails filled with award-winning sales pitches, video presentations, and graphic slideshows. I miss the old days when radio was fun and it was still a business. I think everyone has good memories, stories to tell about the good times and mourns the loss of what used to be. So, goodbye to the radio rep and real radio and say hello to the new sales consultant “if you want it, we get it” in multimedia. I wish they were still the days when they sold commercial time and you bought the time to air the commercial.

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