The Right Way to Run Radio Stations? 10 Smart Tips



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.

 —Hire real copywriters. Most radio advertising sucks.

If your ears hurt and you get a headache listening to radio, it could be the ads. There was once a time, long ago, when radio supported good copywriting. No more. Today most of what we hear is written on the fly by people who aren’t writers. Good copywriting sells products, endearing you with your advertisers, always a plus, and it make your station sound smart.

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

Radio these days, like much of local media, is flooded with people who aren’t skilled in selling, and it hurts the industry. But you can change that. Take the time, spend the money, to train your sales team. There are natural sales people, but the best sales people learned from masters. The payback for stations is enormous: Higher sales, happy clients, more clients, less turnover, less whining, fewer headaches.



  1. If one thinks that any of these ideals will help radio in ten years? Then delusion has set in. The listening habits of young people will further deminish cumes and the AQH. Young people have different avenues to listen to music and nor do they care about what morning shows deliver. Change is inevitable.


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