Mission Impossible: The NAB Radio Show Day 1

Posted on September 15, 2011

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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.

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