“In this era of increasing clutter, the only way for an advertiser to stand apart is to use a radio station which limits advertising to a certain number of messages an hour. By selling the idea that you have an environment of integrity,” McVay taught me, “And then framing each advertising message by surrounding it with music, you make it stand out from the crowd.”
Lee's More-FM, Philadelphia, still stands up for (and seems to prove it still works!) making use of low commercial limits to keep rates high to make sure you can showcase a marketer’s message.
This selling idea should be a primary weapon of a low-load station’s sales arsenal. Position spots as an adjacency to entertainment.
However, with the arrival of consolidation in the mid-90’s, another, even "easier" way to sell emerged: add more and shorter units and lower your rates, pricing for revenue share.
Once upon a time radio’s total revenues were some $19-million and 40% of radio stations were losing money. Now, radio’s combined top line has been climbing back up to $17.6 billion after falling precipitously in the early 2000's, creating a need to cut costs in order to sustain and grow profits while paying off the debt incurred in pursuit of a maximum allowable share of market dollars.
Cutting commercial loads was never easy, requiring tremendous courage and excellent execution. Not everyone can accomplish it, but those who do have the potential for completely dominating weaker facilities.
The smartest among us, as they convene in Indianapolis, need to be thinking and talking about that with their investment bankers and corporate boards.
And, if you as an owner are lucky enough not to have to answer to those things, you're in an awesome position to get aggressive and press your advantage.
It’s time to do things differently. And, the past has a lot to teach us all if we learn from it.