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To Beat the Devil

| September 23, 2013

By Al Herskovitz
H&H Communications


BRADENTON, Fla — With cries of woe, beating of breasts and the rending of garments, radio sales reps are responding to the mournful tune being sung by predictors of the medium’s imminent demise.  It is the same song we heard many, many years ago with the emergence of television.  “It’s all over for radio,” they wailed.  “Nobody’s going to listen to the radio anymore when they can watch TV.”  But sharp management, innovative programmers, and clever promotion beat that notion into the ground.

We heard that tune again with the FM explosion.  “Nobody’s going to listen to AM radio anymore when they have FM.”  Then talk radio expanded across the AM band to such a degree that national leaders, columnists and commentators, public figures go bonkers when a program host says something that they deem controversial or are against something they said or did.  Only today as I write this I read a column in a major metropolitan daily that railed against Rush Limbaugh.  If nobody is listening, what are they worried about?  After all he’s just a talk show host on AM radio.

Now the challenge is the digital world.  Why do you need radio when you can hear whatever you want anytime from your own “pupick?”*

Of course there are concerns.  Stating the obvious, we live in a fast-paced, quickly changing society.  But until the day the mountains erupt and bolts of lightning come crashing out of the sky simultaneously, there still are things under our control that can be done.  And sales reps have one such tool in their hands at which they are supposed to be the experts.  It’s called “ADVERTISING!”

If your station is always sold out then there’s no need for concern.  Stop here.  However, if you just happen to have some unsold inventory hanging around, there are steps that you can take.

Call me crazy, but I read three daily newspapers – my hometown paper, a well-known New York City tabloid and a national daily…plus one local weekly – one of those throwaway papers that you find on your front lawn sopping wet after the sprinkler system has stopped.  In the past decade, I have never – I mean never – seen any radio station advertising in any of them.  Whatever happened to the old swapperoo-trading?  Newspapers are as challenged as radio and are looking for help as well.

Then there is your own station’s website where ads for your advertisers are prominently displayed.  How about bonusing some of them for ad space for your shows on their sites?

Remote broadcasts certainly are good for sponsors, but they can be and should be showcases for your programs, personalities, hosts and stations.  The last couple that I witnessed, the program host showed up in his own car, carried in his laptop and microphone, sat down in a designated corner, plugged in and did the show.  Now, no one says you have to arrive in an 18-wheeler with trumpets blaring (although not a bad idea), but how about at least a banner or a good-sized easel sign?

Contesting in recent years has, pretty much, been relegated to “I’ll take the fifth caller for two tickets to see…”  That’s exciting.  But if you have an advertiser with multiple locations or even a single location who will display your clues, that will lead to traffic for the sponsor and a visual promotional opportunity for you.

The aforementioned are just thought-starters that fall under the heading of advertising your own product.  Yes, for a host of reasons this has become an era of cost-cutting and budget-trimming, but you can trim yourself into oblivion.  To do anything, you need to get a management ok.  So do what you label yourself – a salesperson.  So sell!

(*Yiddishism for “bellybutton.”)tbugk

Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a marketing specialist for TALKERS magazine.  He can be phoned at 941-708-6520 or emailed at  Meet Al Herskovitz at TALKERS Los Angeles 2013 on Thursday, October 10.

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Category: Sales