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Broadcast Resources

TUNING IN

A blog dedicated to the world of broadcast and public relations

Friday, March 22, 2002

Understanding the Medium: Radio Tips & Insights

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Radio is often a misunderstood and underutilized medium, yet it has powerful reach and unparalleled impact on listeners. Lately, we have taken this message to trade shows and publications based on requests to better understand and utilize radio in an efficient and worthwhile manner.

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, radio reaches 77% of people over the age of 12 everyday and people 12 and over listen to the radio more than three hours each day. Further, radio reaches more than 95% of consumers weekly, and there are more than 600 million radios in use in the U.S. , with the average household having 5.6 radio receivers. There are more than 13,500 registered stations with 33 different format types and more than 250 networks in the U.S. Radio is a mobile medium with a captive audience, highly targetable reaching exactly the demographic you want, and a great source of local and national news for listeners.

Pretty powerful statistics, but how can we tap into radio’s power to maximize a message?

What curious minds want to know basically boils down to one of the five common questions below.

1. How do I determine what radio method is best for my message?

Take a good look at your content. If the information presents itself clearly in a one page release, an audio news release or a broadcast fax is typically the best way to go. If the issue needs a bit more explanation, setting up interviews will likely be the most advantageous method for your message. Technology, health and education issues that have many facets typically warrant a discussion that can take place in a radio media tour setting.

2. How do I know which stations I pitch will use particular types of messages and in what format they accept stories?

With the consolidation of the radio industry, many stations share news and information which has changed the dynamic of the radio newsroom. Before going into a pitch for an interview, find out if the station even does interviews. If they accept news from a local and/or national network, your pitch may work better at the network level.

3. How do I adapt a TV or print message to a radio-friendly format?

With radio, you cannot rely on pictures, captions and the printed word. One simple way to test your pitch is to close your eyes, and recite the story as you would like to hear it broadcast on the radio. If you cannot formulate a vivid picture in your mind, then you should consider a different medium for your message. Some stories are not meant for radio, so be mindful of that before you invest time and money in something that may not produce anticipated results.

4. What does it take to have highly skilled and trained people pitching radio and how do I hire them?

Optimal candidates for pitching radio are former radio reporters. They have an exact idea of the perfect pitch in terms of content and timing. And, they know what it is like to be on the other end of the phone. Even with no radio experience, tenacious and detailed pitchers can do an exceptional job. Radio, as with pitching any medium, is not for the faint of heart. Pitchers should have a thick skin and a tenacious nature.

5. How do I capitalize on radio’s immediacy in order to turn around a story quickly for broadcast?

Have as much prepared in advance of a story breaking as possible. Since production in radio has fewer elements than television, radio can be more responsive in a breaking news situation. And, unlike print, you do not have to worry about a publication or print time. With radio, the deadline is always as soon as the information can get to stations. Many stories are broken first on radio before reaching television and print, so if a story has immediacy, radio should be your first pitch. Also know that pitching stations in the morning when newsrooms are fully-staffed typically yields the greatest results.

Radio is an often misunderstood medium because of the overwhelming number of outlets and the ever-changing market. Tackling one market or one demographic first in a few markets, can be a smart way to get your feet wet before taking the plunge into a large national release. To help target your pitch, we have provided a list of formats, with full descriptions and general target age groups, on page three of this newsletter. Other station information can be found on this site.

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