American Consumers Ready to Spend Post-COVID
April 27, 2021

Radio’s Top Talkers in 2021 and How to Make Them Sell Your Brand

Talkers Magazine has announced its 2021 “Heavy Hundred” list of America’s most influential radio talk show personalities.  And with the passing of Rush Limbaugh, the top trio now includes conservative talker Mark Levin (#3 right) in addition to Sean Hannity (#1 left) and financial advisor Dave Ramsey (#2 center). 

Talkers Magazine has announced its 2021 “Heavy Hundred” list of America’s most influential radio talk show personalities.  And with the passing of Rush Limbaugh, the top trio now includes conservative talker Mark Levin (#3 right) in addition to Sean Hannity (#1 left) and financial advisor Dave Ramsey (#2 center). 

In 2021, as in previous years, conservative talk dominates liberal and moderate talk content.  Male hosts far outnumber the female.  And persons of color continue to represent a minority of on-air voices fighting for their share of voice on the public airwaves, satellite and streaming audio.

The 2021 Top Ten includes Sean Hannity, Dave Ramsey, Mark Levin, Brian Kilmeade, Joe Madison, Dana Loesch, Mike Gallagher, Thom Hartmann, Michael Berry and Joe Pagliarulo.  Joe Madison, host of the morning show on Urban View, is Talkers’ highest rated black host and the top-ranked talk show talent on SiriusXM.  SXM’s Howard Stern falls from the Top 10 for the first time in recent memory.

Local hosts (like Houston’s Michael Berry and San Antonio’s Joe Pagliarulo) cracked the Talkers’ Top 10 as their weekday shows gain more affiliates to air their program outside of their hometown markets.

The full Heavy Hundred list can be found online and, it should be noted, does not include SportsTalk hosts or Podcasters.  But, taken as a group, all of these “Spoken Word Content” entertainers create a fertile ground on which advertisers can grow their business.

It’s no secret that radio listeners tuned to Spoken Word content are more attentive, having chosen the foreground content of conversation over the background company of music.  So it stands to reason that when a commercial message airs on a News, Talk, Sports, Business, Religion or Comedy station or channel, those listeners are more likely to engage with content and act upon their calls to action.

This holds especially true for advertisers willing to pay a premium for the host talent to lend their voices to marketing messages.  Listeners have already given their stamp of approval to this talent by choosing to listen to their show.  So when those hosts personally endorse – or simply voice the words of a marketing message – those words have a far more impact than a radio commercial floating between blocks of music programming where listeners can be more passive consumers of programming content.

The BIG Question is: Will these radio personalities endorse your brand?  That depends on two key factors.  First: Do they believe in the brand and could endorsing it create backlash?  Most radio hosts won’t lend their voice to a financial services product or neutraceutical product for fear of ending up on the wrong end of a lawsuit or physical threats from a listener who lost his life’s savings in an investment turned sour. 

The other consideration is cost.  Having a radio personality voice your message could command a 20% to a 200% price premium for a “live” read.  That makes your BIG question: Will paying a 50% premium result in at least a 50% increase in revenues?  The only way to know is to test.  And smart marketers will test that theory on a smaller risk basis before putting up Sean Hannity or Howard Stern money.

If you’re wondering if your brand is a good fit for radio advertising on Spoken Word radio – or perhaps a Podcast featuring an influential host – contact Mark@TheRadioAgency.com to explore the possibilities. 

Start planning.  Allocate budgets and determine which teams and which advertising assets are the best fits to reach the target audience.  

Mark Lipsky is CEO and Creative Director at The Radio Agency,  a national advertising agency 100% focused on creating and managing sound advertising campaigns through the medium of radio. You can reach him at Mark@TheRadioAgency.com.