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Where Does Local Radio Fit In?

I never thought I’d have satellite radio, but I do.Here’s how it happened. I haven’t listened to local radio for a long time. Only my iPod could give me the combination of heavy (really heavy) metal, jazz, ambient, sports and 80’s arena rock that I love. Local radio just wasn’t equipped to play the music I like (it’s a numbers game, after all). I could go for days on local radio and not find a single song that I really wanted to hear. Then, we got a new family vehicle that came with six months of free XM, and I fell in love almost immediately.

Now, I have stations like Liquid Metal, The Boneyard, Watercolors and ESPN right next to each other on my “favorites” buttons. It sounds weird but it’s perfect for me. At the same time, it’s a little scary. Why? Because I hear almost zero commercials. Since XM uses a subscription model, very few of their stations need to be ad supported. That’s nice when I listen but frightening when I go to work here at Anchor. After all, how do I reach radio listeners if I can’t buy an ad on their favorite channel?

None of the big three radio invaders – the iPod, satellite radio and internet radio (like Pandora) – are set up to do much with good, old-fashioned thirty-second radio commercials. That doesn’t mean that you can’t put them to work building your brand, however. You just need to be creative. Most internet radio stations (such as Pandora, for example) have banner ads onscreen as the music plays. Or you may need to work out some kind of sponsorship with the provider that gets you name mentions rather than commercials.

On the other hand, where does this leave local radio stations? In a tough spot, that’s where. Radio sales has always been a tough business, and now it’s even tougher. But they still have one thing going for them: they’re local. Whether listeners tune in for local events (like weather or news) or local personalities (like a morning show), nothing beats local radio for inexpensive frequency aimed at a specific geographic area. You still have to buy a lot of radio to build your brand (which makes it less than ideal for that purpose), but for a specific campaign – especially a specific retail campaign – you can still drive traffic without a lot of waste.

I know it sounds complicated, but don’t worry. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’d love to tell you more. Just give us a call here at Anchor, and let’s explore the future or radio – both local and national – together.