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I Dare You


As a buyer of radio advertising, Im willing to pay you for every listener youve got. If theyre old enough to vote, theyre old enough to drive cars and have money and influence a lot of other people who have money. Every listener matters. Thats why I like to target adults 18+. More than 50,000 business owners who buy radio advertising received the following memo from me recently:

Ive never seen a business fail due to reaching the wrong people. So why do most business owners instinctively believe that reaching the right people is the key to successful advertising?

Who, exactly, do you not want to know about you? Who isnt qualified to repeat the good things theyve heard about you? And when is the best time to advertise?

Solomon wrote about these things in the 11th chapter of Ecclesiastes: If you wait for perfect weather, you will never plant your seeds. If you are afraid that every cloud will bring rain, you will never harvest your crops ... So begin planting early in the morning, and dont stop working until evening. You dont know what might make you rich. Maybe everything you do will be successful.

It would appear that Solomon advises, Dont over think it. Just tell your story every day in every circumstance. You never know who might be listening.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke felt the following moment to be important enough to include in the books they wrote about Jesus. Heres how Luke tells it: A large crowd came together. People came to Jesus from every town, and he told them this story: A farmer went out to sow seed. While he was scattering the seed, some of it fell beside the road. People walked on the seed, and the birds ate it all. Other seed fell on rock. It began to grow but then died because it had no water. Some other seed fell among thorny weeds. This seed grew, but later the weeds stopped the plants from growing. The rest of the seed fell on good ground. This seed grew and made 100 times more grain. Jesus finished the story. Then he called out, You people who hear me, listen!

Neither Solomon nor Jesus advised, Target the good soil.

Maybe Jesus just didnt understand. And maybe Solomon wasnt very bright.

I know its counterintuitive, but if you look at all the offers from all the sellers of mass media and then accept the offer that allows you to reach the largest number of adults 18+ each week, 52 weeks a year, for the fewest dollars per week, its hard to make a mistake.

Radio is called "mass media" because every radio station, regardless of format, reaches the rich and poor and middle class masses across a wide range of ages and locations.

Radio is not a rifle; it is a shotgun. Radio is not a fishhook, it is a net.

Pick a random radio station. Any format, any city. Call and give an AE a weekly budget for a consecutive 52-week schedule. Ask that AE to send you a reach-and-frequency analysis for whatever schedule delivers the largest net reach of adults 18+ with a 3-frequency within that budget.

The odds are 9-to-1 against you receiving what you requested. Instead, youll receive a schedule that shows you only the demo of which the station is most proud.

Call and ask. I dare you.

My staff and I have been calling more than 2,000 stations a year for more than 25 years. Fifteen years ago I quit hiring people with radio experience to buy media for me. I swear Im not making this up. Every time I stole an AE from radio and taught them to buy media, theyd always get deeply depressed in about 90 days.

Whats wrong? Id ask.

They tell me they understand what I want, then they send me something completely different.

Dont let it get you down. I told you it would take multiple conversations.

Thats not it.

Then whats bothering you?

Every one of these reps says exactly the same things to me that Ive said to buyers a thousand times.

And that bothers you?

I always thought I was being clever.

The strength of every radio station is anchored in the irresistible nature of sound and its broad appeal to the masses, but most sellers of radio insist on presenting it as a narrow, targeting device. Why present only a fraction of your audience when the entire audience is so much more impressive?

Because the buyers insist on seeing target demos.

No problem. Give them exactly the numbers they requested, and then show them the remaining balance of your audience as you say, And these are all the listeners you get at no extra charge.

That, my friend, is added value.

Trust me, looking at the whole audience is more impressive than looking at just part of it.

And these are all the listeners you get at no extra charge.

Roy H. Williams is president of Wizard of Ads Inc. E-mail:

(6/8/2013 9:39:43 AM)
It needs to be recognized that Roy - with a combination of his skills - represents a unique individual plying his trade in radio.

Meanwhile, I question Phil as to where the term "purist" a. Came from. and, b. has what to do with anything...? (I will own the "cynical comment.)

- Ronald T. Robinson
(6/7/2013 11:38:37 AM)
Indeed, Roy is a master at providing appropriate and powerful buys for his clients. I wouldn't dare invade that space for any reason. Plus, he types some pretty mean "hype", as well. The combination makes magic.

In the meantime, I'm going to insist that the vast majority of radio-folk are still clueless as to the actual impact of radio or how to present it even better.

Fact: Bad stations providing poor commercial content are still on the air - although just barely in many cases - only because the medium itself still retains an innate and persuasive power.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(6/5/2013 2:39:50 PM)
Very good, Roy. Any station that does a reasonably good job has an audience. Even the ones that sound hokey to radio people have a good audience.
Look at Ron Robinson's comments compared to Roy Williams and you can see who has a good grasp of the mass audience's behavior (Williams) and who thinks like the cynical purist (Robinson).Radio has underpriced itself for years.

- Phil
(6/5/2013 12:29:45 PM)
What about those stations that don't subscribe to rating services? How do you your buyers work with them?

- Heidi

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