With two of the nation’s largest radio companies in bankruptcy, iHeartMedia and Cumulus, many who don’t really know radio contend the medium is dead or dying. But those who do know radio argue that it’s still every bit a vital medium. The problem, they argue, is that too many stations are poorly managed, often from distant headquarters by executives more interested in making the numbers look good than running stations smartly for the long term.
So what does it take to run radio stations smartly? Here are 10 tips from longtime radio pros:
—Staff each station within your market with its own sales team
Yes, it’s expensive, and many radio people will tell you it’s a sure money-loser. Wrong, says longtime radio sales executive Ben McWhorter in Knoxville. Do the math. Two sales people at different stations will bring in more revenue than one person selling for the two stations, and the difference is worth the extra cost. Competition encourages excellence. Similarly, if you have a cluster of stations in a market, and each has its own sales team, you stand to do better than if you had one sales staff selling the entire cluster. It just makes sense.
—Create unique identities for your stations and then promote them
Great radio stations have great identities. They work to create them and they spend the money to let the world know how great they are. They put up billboards and hand out bumper stickers. You preach to your clients that advertising works. You may be on to something. Try it yourself.
—Live, breathe and embrace local local local
Real radio has an enormous advantage as the most local of all media. In the great sea of media offerings, local radio stands out. It celebrates our towns and reminds us of our shared identity. Radio from its earliest days understood that vital connection. But that has been lost in this age of consolidation, where stations are managed from afar. But it makes even more sense these days. Everything about your stations should scream local.