This was certainly true in the first golden age of radio, that period of time from its birth in 1920 through the mass takeover of television in the 1950s. Once TV came along, radio had to reinvent itself.
That reinvention came in the form of Rock ‘N’ Roll, the transistor radio and the car radio. Radio was portable, TV was not. TV took over the living room, but radio took over every other place.
In my life, I’ve lived through every new form of technology that was going to be the death of radio. The 8-track tape, the cassette tape, the CB radio, the CD player, the CD changer, the cell phone, the MP3 player, and most recently, the World Wide Web, Internet streaming and wireless broadband.
So you might be surprised to learn that at the 2015 annual meeting of the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Florida attendees learned that when it comes to adults 18+, RADIO reaches 93% of them every week. That’s more than TV, more than smart phones, more than PCs and more than tablets.
I remember when I got my first GM position. It was a daytime radio station that featured Al Ham’s “Music of YOUR Life” format, big band music for those not familiar with the programming. Yes, my audience was old. But only according to the calendar, but not the way they thought about themselves.
It was always a tough putt with new advertisers, getting across this concept that you are as young as you think. So I wasn’t surprised to learn that one of the sessions talked about “APT.” APT was all about the “Age People Think” not demographics.
I’m not sure that lumping people by demographics was ever a sound marketing idea, but like a lot of bad ideas (buying radio on a Cost Per Point basis) in advertising, people do what’s always been done and ignore if it’s a sound way to place advertising.
A lot of my radio stations over my career have focused on an older demo. When Ken Dychtwald’s book “Age Wave” came out in 1990, I read it with enthusiasm. Dychtwald told of the massive population and cultural shifts that would be taking place because of the Baby Boom Generation. He put forward how the boomers would shift the epicenter of consumer activity from a focus on youth to the needs, challenges, and aspirations of maturing consumers. Those predictions are playing out today.
So again, I wasn’t surprised to read that at the ANA gathering attendees were told that old people were a growth market. In light of the trillion dollars in student loan debt, the millennials are cash challenged in a way that the Boomers are not.
I grew up in a Chevy family. Remember those days of yore? Chevy families and Ford families competing for bragging rights as to which drove the better cars?
Many marketers would have you believe that we are now stuck in a rut with our product choices and only the young are pliable enough to be swayed to try or change brands. So let’s see how that plays out in my family. I have two older brothers; one drives a Honda and the other a Toyota. How about our kids? Well we have a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Hyundai and Honda. In my case, I drove a Hyundai for the past eight years before switching to a Honda Accord; so much for that concept that once you are stuck in a brand, you stay there for life. Even my toothpaste is not the brand I grew up using.
Everything has changed about the world with the exception the way marketing is created and advertising is bought.
One of the big changes is that RADIO is back! It’s the massive reach medium that advertisers seek to expose their products and services on, except that they don’t know it.
Radio needs to use some frequency and repetition to get the word out.
Willie Sutton said he robbed banks because that’s where the money was.
If you’re an advertiser, you need to advertise where the people are and that’s today’s RADIO.
One response to “Radio – America’s #1 Mass Reach Medium”
It’s short sighted and self-limiting for a broad medium like radio to impose age-directed marketing restrictions on itself, and it’s just plain foolish to write off demos over 54. Today’s older demo a) tries new products and b) has the money to buy them. And the over 54 demo, as you touched on briefly, doesn’t think of themselves as “old.” They’re not our parents “over 54’s.” Radio formats that reach across demographic boundaries, as Lite-FM does in the New York market, may be best positioned for the future and the inevitable effects of Father Time.
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