Pending Business: SiriusXM’s Chutzpah

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Chutzpah!

That’s the way most AM/FM radio vets reacted to the recent SiriusXM ads. By now you should know about the upheaval over the “Why waste your time with AM/FM radio?” broadside attack launched last week.

Imagine, a frenemy like satellite radio calling our baby ugly. Chutzpah! Nobody does that to the people who gave most satellite radio talent their start, right?

Wrong! Students of classic marketing theory understand what really happened.

AM/FM radio is the incumbent, generating over $15 billion in revenue with some AM radio stations celebrating 100 years on the air. On the other hand, Sirius is a young 20-year-old, and if you count in the XM merger we’re talking the SiriusXM teenager.

So this $8 billion dollar teenager takes a broadside shot at the aging $15 billion establishment in an attempt to get noticed. The “attacker” goes straight for the incumbent jugular with the goal of luring the incumbent into a direct response. The “attacker” wins millions of eyes and ears because the incumbent responds emotionally instead of strategically.

Does this ring familiar? As in political advertising, where an attack on the incumbent is almost a daily occurrence?

Here sits the overweight and slow-growth AM/FM radio business in a post-COVID recovery mode, always struggling to get a seat at the digital/social media table, in a never-ending search for good sales reps all adding up to a highly vulnerable incumbent. Timing is everything and as much as it hurts, the “Why waste your time?” ad was well played. AM/FM radio can’t afford to ignore a broadside attack. Playing the local, free and emergency cards is a solid first step. Every AM/FM radio listener and advertiser can use a reminder. Just like a utility, we take it for granted until it’s not there when you need it.

Here are some concepts for our AM/FM radio leadership to develop:

  • New-think messaging. Let’s stop sounding like a museum and start showing the unique opportunity in cars, on computers and on billions of smartphones.
  • Greater focus on winning in the social/digital media space.
  • A non-stop commitment to high-level ad agency and client contacts to drill down the AM/FM storyline with exciting messaging.

Thank you SiriusXM for sending our AM/FM leaders a wake-up call. Will 15,500 commercial radio stations finally speak with one voice before Amazon, Google or Facebook take the next shot? Wait. Don’t worry because one Amazon Prime Day generates almost the same revenue as the entire radio business.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: