Local Market Radio –BIG Picture Planning

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September 16, 2014
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September 30, 2014

Local Market Radio –BIG Picture Planning


Planning a radio buy in local markets should be easy, right? Buy the top-ranked stations and call it a day.

What if you’re not McDonald’s or GEICO and your budgets are not nearly as robust? Your agency must look closer at the numbers in each market and formulate a plan that’s best for you and your radio budget.

When we pull a ranker in a market, we run the numbers a few different ways and our planners and buyers look at every available statistic – AQH Rating, Persons and Rank and Cume/Cume Rank. Once we avail a market and start to get proposals in, we are able to see if the rates associated with each station and daypart correspond with the data we have at our fingertips for all radio markets.

This way, we can see that a station ranked #1 for AQH may not have the highest Cume and may not be worthy of rates 20% above SQAD (what the market says the CPP should be for any given demographic and quarter).

In San Francisco, for example, the #3 ranked station for AQH is a Sports station for the Adults 25 – 49 demographic. However, the AQH Rating is the same as the next five stations below it and the Cume rank is 11. Now, because it’s the only Sports station in the Top 10, you may want to buy it if you’re targeting men. However, if the buy is truly Adults 25 – 49, and the rates are way out of your price range, you may need to buy around them. And you can.

The #11 ranked station in San Francisco is a Rhythmic CHR. Before turning your nose up at the station because of its rank, take into consideration the Cume rank (#4) and the AQH rating. Chances are, the rates you can negotiate will be low enough so you can generate as many impressions as with the #3 and #4 ranked stations, but for less money.

If you are unfamiliar with radio planning and buying and the terms above are foreign to you, the takeaway here is that there are great options below the top ranked stations. Look at the data, plan wisely, make sure you are getting a rationale behind every buy and do what you can to measure the results. These days, every dollar counts.


Barbra Tabnick is Vice President, Account Services at The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio BarbAgency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the RSS link above. Visit our website TheRadioAgency.com