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Radio Show: Show Me the Money

| September 19, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant


ORLANDO — The NAB/RAB Radio Show is underway, and I couldn’t help thinking, “It takes money to make money,” as I drove onto the posh Rosen Shingle Creek grounds Tuesday, past a sign announcing it’ll be $16 a day to park.  Imagine my relief when, on the way out, the attendant said it’d be half-price for Radio Show attendees…and then yesterday, when she told me “no charge!”

“If you’re in Radio, you’re in Sales.” 

That’s been a durable RAB mantra since before The Great Recession.  So it’s no coincidence that the vibe here is so not-2009, and that every session I’m attending addresses revenue opportunities.

weylandopenbarMy Radio Show day one kicked-off with sales guru Paul Weyland (pictured here) – whose session, at 10:15 am mind you – featured an open bar!

  • Witty Weyland is author of Think Like an Adman, Sell like a Madman: How to Make Ads That Work, and the fundamentals his show-N-tells demonstrated reminded me how on-air talent, professional storytellers, should be as involved as possible with sales.
  • The crowd howled when he played a cliché-ridden, advertiser-centric commercial barked out by a painfully typical Bill Balls announcer.  Instead, he urged, “write copy that solves consumer anxieties.”
  • Also axiomatic: “Most people don’t like being sold, but we do like being informed.”
  • Other spots Weyland played demonstrated a technique that’s been extremely productive at stations I work with: Interview the client.  Retailers are canny entrepreneurs, with a keen feel for the street, and deep product knowledge.  Nobody can tell their story like they can; and even if you don’t use their voice on-air, you’ll surface copy points that cut through the clutter LOTS better than “…for all your ______ needs.”
  • Craft copy that accomplishes the above, and it’ll be easy to put the pen in the prospect’s hand.  “Value always trumps price.”

At the Radio Show Advertiser Luncheon, RAB CEO Erica Farber interviewed State Farm Insurance exec Tim Van Hoof and his ad agency principal OMD’s Sumeet Kanwar.  Two sound bites spoke volumes to radio sellers:

  • Van Hoof: “When you’re in the car, we have the power to speak more personally to you.”
  • Kanwar: “Tell me what your listeners do, not just how many of them you have.”

True Digital…Pay Paul without Robbing Peter 

Heck, this session’s title pretty much summed up Topic One this year, convention-wide.  Panelists in this, and the always useful “Small & Medium Market Ideas” session, were generous with detail and tips:

  • NOT a misprint: KSAL, Salina, Kansas’ local news website does $300K annual revenue.  Yep, Salina, Kansas…where local TV isn’t very (it’s in Wichita).  And $50 auction listings they sell rake-in $2500/mo.
  • Brian Foster is founder & VP of NextMedia Radio’s NM360, and when he showed us the various digital money-makers his shop crafted, the-little-voice-in-attendees’-heads was hollering “I WISH we had the manpower to do THAT…” until he explained: “Everything you saw here was done by one employee.”  How?
  • Tip: Check-out, where you can produce slick, inexpensive videos.  One we were shown, for a real estate firm, cost $28 to assemble; and a client station owner I sat with whispered “You could syndicate that spot!”
  • Tip on how to use such a tool: “Video pre-roll is under-exploited.”
  • There was also lots of talk about station-produced, advertiser-branded online audio channels.  After all, producing audio is what radio stations do, and smart ones never let a production studio sit dark.

Big Thanks From Big Shots 

Referencing this week’s Washington Navy Yard shooting rampage, and Hurricane Sandy, NAB CEO Gordon Smith saluted stations’ rising to the occasion, “when cell networks and broadband connections went down for days – even weeks,” and “radio remained on the air.”

With ongoing, often-draconian, budget cuts biting-into local stations’ coverage capability, Smith noted that, “unfortunately, many businesses are unable to think long term, focusing instead on short-term gains to satisfy Wall Street…But radio’s success depends on having long-term vision, too.”

And with yet-another legislative proposal to levy music royalty fees on radio stations being introduced, “today, even as I speak,” Smith vowed “Be assured we will not stand idly by.”

When Smith then introduced charismatic Acting FCC Chairman Mignon Clyburn, she echoed his appreciation for broadcasters’ efforts.  And she made news, announcing Rulemaking that proposes AM licensees each get an FM translator, and a tongue-twisting laundry list of technical de-regulation for AM arrays.

And The Commish called smartphones “the biggest game-changer out there right now,” underlining many other Radio Show speakers’ plea that radio broadcasters not just publish to radios.


Follow HC’s real-time coverage of the NAB/RAB Radio Show @HollandCooke on Twitter, and at; and in daily summaries here.  And meet Holland at Talkers Los Angeles on Thursday, October 10.

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Category: Analysis