Mission Impossible: The NAB Radio Show Day 1

Posted on September 15, 2011


The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), in conjunction with the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), kicked off their 2011 Radio Show today here in Chicago.

This clandestine meeting of upper-level executives and radio sales types undoubtedly represents the most suits per square foot of any radio-industry related event.

Talent and programmers are few and far between. Most can be found cowering in dark corners.

But fear not, by cleverly disguising myself as a writer, I secured a press pass and bravely infiltrated what Obi Wan Kenobi would certainly describe as a, ” wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Or wait, was that Mos Eisley? I get the two mixed up.

Anyway, during day one of my incursion into the world of these suit-and-tie wearin, deal-makin, commercial-sellin  people, while I dodged terms like “zero sum game”; “transparency”; and “disanonyzing” (the last of which I think Triton Media’s Mike Agovino made up), I came across some interesting, and even encouraging, statistics about the industry:

  • There will be $116 billion spent on radio advertising this year.
  • In comparison there will be just $2.7 billion spent on mobile advertising and $4.5 billion for online video.
  • If you compare radio industry revenues to the number of listeners we make $45 per listener per month.
  • 93% of all Americans own a radio. Only 84% have a cell phone.
  • Radio listeners spent 60% of their listening time with one station.

I also got some insight into why radio sales people seem a little crazy.

It started at a panel with the ridiculous title, “Understanding the Power of Consultative Selling and the Marketing Mix.”

I decided to be brave and wandered in just in time to hear Mike Hilstrom, president of the Select Marketing Group which places over $16 million dollars in advertising each year, tell a room full of sellers, “Sometimes we don’t vocalize our best thoughts but it’s still your responsibility to hear them.”

I quickly retreated from that room taking cover in a panel with the seemingly pedestrian title, “What is Radio?” where Paul Krasinski, the senior vice president of digital media and analytics for Arbitron, balanced the scales with the best comment I heard all day:

When asked the philosophical question, “What business is radio in,” he replied, “the striking up a conversation with the audience business.”

I don’t know if that completely describes the business radio is in but it sure is a great job description for a host.

Keep that in mind the next time you walk into the studio. See if you can strike up a conversation with your audience.