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Pending Business: Wobbles

| July 19, 2021

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla — The one thing radio sellers avoid is planning for a negative.

Think about it. Your biggest nightmares follow, but when was the last time you actually planned out what would happen if:

  • You lost your biggest account?
  • The on-air talent generating those high-value live reads moved on?
  • Those Nielsen ratings spiral down?

After over a year of COVID craziness, the last thing you want to deal with is game planning for more negativity. Business should be accelerating, yet here we are looking at many large market news/talk radio stations down trending after lineup changes designed to improve audience levels have been slow to show upticks. Maybe a little too soon to judge, maybe sampling wobbles, maybe work-life patterns shifting, maybe we should start dealing with what we can control — our game plan. Let’s focus on #3 (above) as that variable is truly out of the seller’s hands.

I’ve been on all sides of the “numbers are down” dilemma after program changes are implemented. Yet the local seller’s side is actually the easiest to manage. It all starts with understanding the four basics of selling change in any local radio market.

  • Competitors aren’t dumb. Going from Miami to San Francisco taught me how to shift to Mach 4 managing. We learned the #1 rule of high-speed sales: use the allotted time wisely. Tell your story or competitors will answer for you. When your ratings decline, be first with a plan.
  • Set expectations. Nothing wrong with working alongside your advertisers when a new program is inserted in the lineup. There may be a sampling period that moves the needle one way or another. Stay focused on realistic expectations.
  • Simple to understand. Why did your team select the new program to insert into the lineup? Your pitch flow should present a clear and value based rationale.
  • Have a backup plan. Your advertiser will perceive some risk when a new program becomes part of a schedule. If the results meter is red, better to be prepared than panic.

This past week, I found myself initiating contact with several large market sellers trying to get a handle on “what happened?” Confidence and rapport slide when you limit contact to renewals, copy and collections. Competitors aren’t dumb.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at:

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Category: Sales