7 Things Local Radio Has Going For It

Not Overly Expensive, Targetable, Social, And More…

By the editors of Media Life

This is one in an ongoing series on radio for media planners and buyers titled “The new face of radio in America” that examines the changes sweeping through the industry and how the medium is evolving. Click here for earlier stories.

When it comes to radio, it’s just different.

People watch television. But they engage with radio. They connect.

Radio is personal.

People put stations’ bumper stickers on their cars: 93.3 WMMR, Philadelphia’s home of rock ‘n roll; KNAC Pure Rock 105.5.

“Ever seen that for a newspaper or TV station?” asks Gordon Borrell, of Borrell Associates, which tracks local advertising.

Indeed, radio defines what it means to be a local medium, more so than newspapers, more so than TV.

Uniquely positioned to reap major gains in the great and protracted shakeout going on in local media markets, local radio has a lot going for it – as outlined below.


  1. Radio is comparatively inexpensive. CPMs average $13.50, well below the cost of newspapers at $32.50 and primetime network TV at $24.76.
  2. Radio is targetable in a way neither TV nor newspapers are. Each genre comes with a unique audience.
  3. Radio is easy to buy. Buyers say radio is much easier to buy than newspapers and out of home.
  4. Radio is held in high regard by media buyers in terms of cost, targeting and overall effectiveness—higher, in fact, than all other media but digital.
  5.    Radio looks better and better as other media suffer.

In the old order, it was newspapers, TV, then radio, and each operated in a silo, with their own sets of advertisers.  Two things happened.

First, local newspapers took a beating, their revenues slashed by more than half (largely via digital publishing competition).

Two, the silos are gone. Local markets are now wide open and highly competitive. Advertisers are a lot more sophisticated. Radio can make its case to a much larger group of advertisers.

  1.    Radio is a community medium. DJs show up at fairs, street festivals, parades and wherever crowds gather. They entertain.

In many communities, radio is the only locally produced entertainment available, as Borrell notes. From this you get the bumper stickers and a sense of belonging that so defines community.

  1.   Radio is social.“They’re the original social media,” says Borrell. Radio stations bring people together. They get them talking.

“They have great opportunities to create strong networks around their genres,” Borrell says, “whether it’s rock and roll, country, classical, sports talk, left-wing political, hip-hop, etc.”