What Makes Your Radio Station Unique?

In teaching broadcast sales at the university, one of the things I taught my students was to help their advertising clients to identify their unique selling position in the marketplace. In other words, what was the one thing that made them different than everyone else in their specialty.

Something For Everyone

The answer you most often hear when you ask an advertiser what makes them unique is, “well, we have something for everyone.”

Something for everyone is nothing special for any one. To the radio listener, it’s like blah, blah, blah. It’s meaningless. Why? Because every other advertiser selling everything from soup to nuts says the same thing and the listener has become trained to tune out these advertising clichés.


Plumbers are probably not something you ever give much thought about, UNTIL you need one. That’s true for lots of repair services when you think about it.

What’s the one thing you hate about calling a home repair company? Knowing that you will be kept waiting and waiting and waiting for their arrival at the time when they said they would.

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it.”

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing could have said a lot of things about the services they provide, but instead they decided what would make them unique in the ears of future customers would be being punctual.

Benjamin Franklin

The Punctual Plumber

They built their whole franchise around the realization that people hate to be kept waiting. In fact, they promise when you don’t have time to wait around, you can count on them to be punctual plumbing professionals, but if they are ever late, they will pay YOU for every minute they’ve made you wait. Doesn’t that resonate with you? It does for me.

Give Your Radio Station a Diagnostic

When is the last time you pulled out the Advertiser Diagnostic sheet and used it on your own radio station(s)?

What makes your station unique? Not the music, that’s for sure. The songs you play were carefully crafted by composers, producers and talented artists, who have record labels that have worked relentlessly to get those songs played on as many radio stations, pure play streamers, movies, TV shows and any other place that uses music to entertain people.

Is your brand name unique? Well, if you branded your radio station KISS you are one of 78 radio stations in America that call themselves that, along with radio stations in Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Iceland, Greece, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, Canada and Australia. It’s no different than calling your radio station HOT, Jack, Bob, Alice or some other cute name that dozens upon dozens of other radio stations are doing, especially in a world where voice commands increasingly are the way people are accessing audio on their smart devices.

But if your brand is 650AM -WSM, you are the only one in the world that has that brand. You have set yourself apart from the estimated 44,000 radio stations currently on-the-air in the world. WSM is the Home of the Grand Ole Opry. I don’t expect this historic radio station to ever call itself by any other name, but by the one it owns exclusively: WSM.

Streaming Radio

In a world where you can receive virtually any radio station on an App like TuneIn, being unique and one-of-a-kind has never been more important.

If a person tries asking Alexa, Siri or Google to play the KISS radio station, I have no idea which one she will play. However, I don’t have to wonder for a second, if I ask my smart speaker to play WSM, I will hear any other radio station, but the one from Music City USA, in Nashville, Tennessee.

What Makes Your Radio Station Unique?

If you stake your radio station’s future on things created by others, like music, talk shows, network news, syndicated programs, jingles – things every other radio station in America has access to – then your radio station is NOT unique.

When other providers are able give your listeners more of what they want while eliminating the things they dislike, your days as a broadcaster are numbered.

Another way to think about this is, if you were to eliminate all of your commercials – the thing radio listeners say they object to most – would you be able to sustain your radio station by listener support, like public radio and Christian radio does? Or the way that Netflix or SiriusXM does?

If a listener hasn’t heard of your radio station,

wouldn’t choose your station or recommend it,

your brand is dead.

<Picture: The Fuse Vert is a premium vertical vinyl audio system which can also play FM radio>


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

5 responses to “What Makes Your Radio Station Unique?

  1. t This is a very important post, Dick.There are many things that have gone by the wayside these days-including branding of radio stations. Where once it was mainly call letters, today’s stations have a number of names that are similar market to market. I found my way on a unique one, though. WTWWis unique in many ways. It’s a SHORT WAVE project on 2 different shortwave frequencies, 5085 and 9940 kc. We’re a hybrid music station that lately has been a voice for people around the world to support the people of The Ukraine. We play good ol’ American Rock and Roll from 4 decades, hosted by real honest to goodness radio hosts and intersperse messages of hope for The Ukraine as well as an occasional Bible verse. WTWW is the brainchild of Ted Randall, a corporate engineer for Cromwell Media in Nashville, and the engineering director for WTWW and its 3 transmitters. The station’s Nashville roots were covered by WSMV TV this past week, and the story has been broadcast on NBC stations from New York to Chicago to San Francisco and many others. https://bit.ly/36YezAt will get you the WNBC story. Kudos to Ted and Holly Randall, Big Jim Edwards, Jeff Laurence, Steve Taylor, Dan Collins and Steve Hunter-inspiring me as we all put our best work forward nightly on WTWW. More information on our website at http://www.wtww.us. . Back to the branding, look at what the corporate cookie cutter websites have done to an individual station’s branding efforts. Generic, sometimes not format specific content and a teeny tiny logo somewhere on the home page. They’ve decided their national “brand” is more important than the local connection with their stations. It IS a shame.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Doyle Riggan

    Another great article Dick. I’m so glad I found your blog. I’m a big fan of classic country music and enjoy listening to WSM in Nashville, especially now that it is possible to stream the content. WSM “We Shield Millions”


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