By Walter Sabo
NEW YORK — The forbidden topic about the future of AM talk radio is infomercials. Infomercials, rather than the subtleties of topic selection, harm AM talk cume more than any other single station element. Most stations airing infomercials generate about 40% of their total income from that stream. So, what’s the problem? It’s money!
The problem is that in most cities the number two HOMES USING RADIO daypart is Saturdays 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. There is significant radio listening available and it is discretionary, weekend listening, an ideal time to promote and sample your best work. Infomercials during that valuable time period depress total week audience – easily by a full share.
Solutions Learned from Morning TV and QVC
Few viewers are aware that most of their local TV morning shows are bought and paid for. New gadgets featured on the morning TV show – paid for! Live shots from the mall, retailer, event space – paid for! Interview with inventor of hot new product—paid for! Morning TV segments look like editorial content and they are entertaining but they are usually long-form commercials.
QVC and HSN feature continuous presentations of products and great bargains. Note that the owner or inventor or spokesperson for the on-screen product is never alone. A skilled TV host is always at their side to move the show and highlight the most interesting aspects of the product’s benefits. QVC would never let the inventor on alone!
Radio can apply the successful content paid-for techniques proven by TV.
Open a Mall
Scrap the painful half hour or hour-long, sponsor-hosted infomercials. Give those advertisers a better stage and a more engaged, entertained audience. Open a virtual on-air mall. A theater-of-the-mind mall.
For many listeners, shopping is a passionate sport. For all listeners, information on bargains and discounts is more than welcome. Let’s cover this sport and deliver urgently needed information. What do you do on Saturday? You shop.
Take advantage of what your listener is already doing by producing a radio soundtrack to mirror a shopper’s day.
First, program MALL TRAFFIC and weather every 15 minutes all weekend. That’s saleable and safe and useful!
Next, hire a host who understands the joy of shopping and loves a bargain. The host will gather information about store events, bargains, special discounts and new shopping experiences.
Go to your current infomercial sponsors and tell them you are going to give them a much better stage for their information.
Just like morning TV, your station will put them in an entertainment show about shopping: WELCOME TO THE WXXX SHOPPING MALL.
Through production and SFX, the radio host will take the listener into the mall and move the listener from store to store. TOGETHER the host and listener will discover the exciting offerings of each “store.”
Each business owner in the virtual mall will be interviewed, their information will be presented in a format handled by an experienced radio host. As a result, the business owner will sound good, the audience will be engaged and more product will move.
How long is each interview? Rather than one long, dreary interview, sponsors will be offered a total number of minutes per day. They can buy as many minutes of programming as they wish. The station will spread those minutes throughout the daypart i.e. The Mall. An advertiser’s messaging will therefore be exposed to different audiences at different times. Remember, when you actually go to a mall you might go in and out of the same store several times per visit.
Summary: Create a virtual shopping mall. Have a host take listeners through the mall and visit your sponsors. Interview the sponsors, showcase products and services. By building a format hosted by a radio pro you maintain production quality and offer entertainment.
BETTER RESULTS. A live host, presenting shopping information and service elements will generate a larger audience for the weekend daypart compared with a program produced and hosted by a dentist. It’s better for the advertiser and better for your cume.
COST? Make the host an on-air commission salesperson. The more product sold during the time period, the more they earn.
Walter Sabo is CEO of New York City-based consultation firm Sabo Media. He can be phoned at 347-380-1581 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.