A well-written blog by Mark Ramsey recently posed and answered the question, “Why do radio personalities exist?” Beyond the prose, Ramsey rattled off 16 valid reasons the voices behind the microphone still matter and, in fact, add value to programming content.
Sure, some listeners have moved on from AM/FM, happy to be their own music programmers or allow one of the many curated music services to deliver bundled playlists online. But that’s far from the death knell for disc jockeys, just as “The Big Three” TV networks still profitably entertain millions, even though some folks have left ABC, CBS and NBC for non-stop action on The Left-Handed Volleyball Channel.
I’d like to take the topic a step further and cite the remarkable benefit of radio personalities to advertisers.
The typical AM/FM station wedges eight to 18 minutes of commercials into each hour; far more than its digital rivals. Something must be keeping the 92% of Americans who listen to AM/FM each week tuned to these frequencies. It’s probably not the music. So it must be the information, the entertainment, the sense of community through this live link to conversation that makes us smarter, engaged and hungry for more.
And when it comes time to break for commercials, those same, trusted voices are often heard jumpstarting new brands or lending support to help an advertiser break through the advertising clutter. Sure, on some stations hosts may endorse a seemingly endless parade of products and services. (Typically, that’s a sign that it’s working.) A well-planned campaign, well-written copy and well-coached air talent can boost ROI beyond the incremental cost of having the air talent serve as spokesperson.
Listen – and I mean LISTEN – to a solid hour of programming on a station that features live (or recorded-to-sound-live) reads by the air talent. Notice how their commercials play on a different plane than the “canned” spots. Pay close attention to how those advertisers weave in personal connections to the announcer’s lifestyle and preferences. Now consider ways that your brand might leverage similar equity from these trusted friends who share their personal information with thousands of loyal listeners.
Today’s – and tomorrow’s – radio personalities will continue to bring an added dimension of personal connection that no commercial-free jukebox can match. And for the hundreds of millions of Americans who still choose AM and FM, their voices can help you solve your next marketing challenge in a multitude of ways.
Give balanced perspective to the purveyors of new (and sometimes awesome) radio platforms who’d have you believe that radio personalities are a dying breed, just as they tried to bury AM/FM for the past two decades. Because future predictions aside, we live and advertise in the NOW. Smart marketers know that AM/FM has more listeners than any other form of radio. It’s bad business to ignore #1. Because for those of us working to hit our sales figures in 2014, now is the only time that matters.