A review by Danno Wolkoff

I read a lot of media articles. It’s the part of the job I really enjoy. I enjoy learning and implementing new practices that make my company and the radio industry better overall.

 Recently, I ran across a great article by Gene Ely in Forbes. His well thought out essay, There’s A Right Way To Run Radio Stations offered 10 smart tips on doing just that. Let’s review Ely’s tips and allow me to give you my take on them.

Staff each station within your market with its own sales team

I couldn’t agree more. Any time you have one sales staff selling all the stations in the cluster, there will always be 1-2 underperforming stations overlooked or devalued because they are less desirable by the advertisers. Salespeople will always take the path of least resistance so they’ll focus on the easy radio stations to sell and skip the stations that will take more work or are a longer sell. Better to have a focused sales staff selling each individual station to maximize ad sales for the cluster.

Create unique identities for your stations and then promote them

Branding is very important for radio stations. Creating the right “stationality” and then promoting it on air, online and through social media continuously is critical to any radio station success.

Live, breathe and embrace local, local, local

I find this tip interesting. Anyone who owns and operates radio stations will always tell me how they must be “live and local.” I agree with the localization of all radio stations, but I don’t agree with the live broadcast part. Other than live sporting events, breaking news or severe weather coverage, there’s no need for radio to broadcast live. Taping segments, voice tracking and pre-recording breaks is a better way to deliver quality broadcasts. It also opens the door to bring in outside talent that can be as local as anyone else in the market.

Hire real copywriters. Most radio advertising sucks

Amen. Why are account executives or production directors writing commercial spots for radio? That really isn’t their job nor are they the best people to create copy. And, good luck finding a copywriter … the profession has almost been eliminated at radio and TV stations. However, there are services you can hire or use to provide proven and tested copy that works on radio. That’s the best alternative in lieu of hiring your own copywriter.

Train your sales team in the art of selling, and in the value of radio

There’s certainly an art to selling and radio has its own unique selling proposition. “Live reads” by personalities is one way to set radio apart from other media. Having an advertiser connected to the right air talent is a personal endorsement that any salesperson can get behind and deliver value to their client.

Put digital to work for your stations. Generate revenues

80% of all digital spending includes video. Your station can drive traffic to your web site to view videos. Selling pre-rolls to videos you cultivate on your web site will generate revenues faster than any other digital format. It’s easy to create video from guest studio appearances, remotes and concerts. If you don’t have time or the staff to create videos then license the content from a network provider.

Go big on social media, radio’s very good friend

Radio is the original social media so promoting your station’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts is easy to do and costs no money. Now, you can communicate with your listeners all the time (even when they are not tuned in to your station) and create the one-to-one relationship that advertisers desperately seek. Radio stations and their personalities are influencers so use social media to connect.

Cut back ad loads. Give listeners a break

Simple supply and demand. Lessen commercial loads each hour and raise the rates. Easier said then done but radio stations must find ways to attract more listeners and increase TSL. Running long spot breaks or too many commercials each hour is a tune out. Better idea, less commercials on air and more digital advertising on your web site or with video (see “Put digital to work for your stations” above)

Get to know your listener. Spend the money for research

Very few radio stations do any research, so they have no idea what their listeners really want to hear. Stations will get most of their music mix right but always seem to miss the coming hits until they see or hear it elsewhere. Why not play the correct music all the time? You can get almost any research tool on barter (so no cash outlay) and use your station database to solicit responses. You can also get streaming data for your specific market and find out what other songs and artists your listeners are consuming when they aren’t tuned in to your station.

Loosen the grip. Eschew micromanaging. Let your people go at it

The most profitable radio stations are managed by people who empower their staff to make decisions and create new opportunities. Letting air talent shine, promotion staffs connect, and salespeople generate advertising leads to create a profitable station. Ratings are great to have when selling to agencies but building campaigns for clients and delivering results for advertisers is how to create a winning radio station.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day workings and emotions of our industry. Too busy to implement all these tips? Then just select one tip and act on it right away. Don’t talk yourself out of it because “we’ve never done it this way before.” Change is good so use it to build a better radio station today.