Industry Views

Monday Memo: The Local Radio Advantage, Part 3

By Holland Cooke

imIt’s not your imagination. The world has gone daffy. The USA is all-but boots-on-the-ground in rough neighborhoods around the world. Weather is getting even wackier. The next gun nut could open fire, at any moment, anywhere. 2024 campaign? It’s a long way to November. And even in this rebounding economy, supermarket prices still hit-home… if you can get there.

Here in Southern New England that could take up to an hour longer, as tens of thousands are inconvenienced every day, and will be for months – possibly two years we’re told – after an abrupt bridge closure along Interstate 195. Your daily commute is torture if you live here; and an unpleasant surprise awaits when you head to Cape Cod this summer, or if you’re just passing through this intersection where I-195 joins Maine-to-Miami I-95, the main artery through the most densely populated parts of the USA.

The good news for listeners is that serious structural defects were spotted BEFORE a deadly bridge collapse like we’ve seen in Minnesota and Pennsylvania and elsewhere in recent years. The good news for local media is that information changes throughout the day, and day-to-day, as the Department of Transportation continuously modifies lane merges and detours to cope. If you’re driving, you can’t NOT listen.


Presume that listeners are wondering “What NEXT???” If your station is known-for-knowing, listeners will keep coming back for more. Last week and the week before here, we demonstrated simple tweaks that make local news copy instantly more and helpful and relevant and understandable. This week: setting an expectation and delivering. Two tips:

Invite overtly. Try this imaging statement that has proven effective for setting a listening appointment to on-hour newscasts: “SO much is changing, SO quickly now. Stay close to the news.” Example: If you’re an affiliate, call it “a quick FOX News update, every half hour, throughout your busy day.” Doing so empowers the customers our local advertisers want pulling into the parking lot.

Then, make it sound different than last hour. Advance the story.

Example: news that “The New York Times is buying Wordle” broke in afternoon drive.

Next morning, same copy, word-for-word.

Better next-morning lead: “Wordle will remain free… for now.”

Avoid the listener thinking, “You already told me that,” by leading with a different aspect than last time. Every effort you make to sound fresh is well worth it.

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of The Local Radio Advantage: Your 4-Week Tune-In Tune-Up,” and “Close Like Crazy: Local Direct Leads, Pitches & Specs That Earned the Benjamins” and “Confidential: Negotiation Checklist for Weekend Talk Radio.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke and connect on LinkedIn

Industry Views

Pending Business: The Fastest Billboards

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imUntil NASA approves company logos on rockets, the fastest billboards an advertiser can buy move at over 200 miles per hour, weigh less than seven ounces and are three-hundredths of an inch thick.

Who wants fast-moving billboards? The longer you can read the message the better, right? Not a problem when a marketer identifies a hard-to-reach target combined with an engaging new opportunity. No, these are not the colorful logos you see on NASCAR vehicles or the old school logos on Formula 1 cars. These are the new-age digital billboards on Formula 1 race cars.

These new billboards are the first of their kind, strategically placed on Formula 1 cars. These magnificent machines, featured at races around the world, can reach speeds of nearly 250 miles per hour. When a race car is moving that fast every ounce of weight counts, hence the paper-thin design. You see (excuse the pun) it is all about a camera angle and what the viewer sees when TV coverage cuts to that strategically placed camera and over 2 million viewers are looking on. Angles count.

Formula 1 racing not a threat to local radio ad sales, you say? Not yet, but when over 13 million people watch the top 12 Grand Prix races worldwide, it’s just a matter of time. The Formula 1 billboard lessons for local sellers and managers are not simple “how many calls, how many closes?” The Formula 1 billboard story is about:

— Sales and marketing innovation in a sport that is nearly 130 years old. The idea of creating a paper-thin, super lightweight digital billboard is an amazing accomplishment.

— Try again. How many times have you pitched a package to an advertiser who told you what was wrong with your package, only to lead to frustration at not winning the business? Can your manager quickly adapt to the advertisers’ needs? Managers, please read that last sentence carefully. The designers of the digital billboard were sent back to the drawing board until the weight and thickness worked for these incredible race machines.

— While you are thinking about getting your pitch together, somebody is already moving forward. In plain English: you snooze, you lose.

— Collaboration is the way to win. It took sellers working with engineers, working with marketers to make the concept work. How about you? Are you comfortable selling in collaboration with teammates?

The sales and marketing innovation clock never stops. How about you? Is your learning clock still ticking?

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: Steve Lapa will be moderating the “Generating Revenue” panel at TALKERS 2023 on Friday, June 2 at Hofstra University.

Industry News

BIA Advisory Services: WTOP-FM Top Biller in 2022



BIA Advisory Services announces that in the first edition of its Investing In Radio® Market Report for 2023, that the top billing radio station in 2022 was Hubbard Broadcasting’s all-news WTOP-FM, Washington ($69 million). It also reports that the total U.S. local radio over-the-air and digital revenue for 2022 topped $13.6 billion in 2022, an increase of 7.4% over the $12.6 billion total in 2021. Over-the-air advertising grew 2.2% to $11 billion (up from $10.7 billion in 2021) and digital income rose 35% to $2.6 billion (up from $1.9 billion in 2021). BIA VP of forecasting Nicole Ovadia says, “Looking at last year’s ad revenue results, it shows that radio is maintaining an important position in their local markets, particularly as it expands and improves its online digital presence. This year, we are making a particular effort to track the digital revenue of local radio stations and believe this breakout in our forecast will be valuable to everyone in the industry.” The BIA report notes that, aside from WTOP, “other all-news stations struggled.” Compared to last year’s list, Audacy’s all-news WBBM-AM/WCFO-FM dropped to the number nine position and WCBS-AM, New York dropped to the 11th position. New to the top 10 list is Cox Media Group’s news/talk WSB-AM/WSBB-FM, Atlanta ($31.6 million).

Industry Views

Monday Memo: The Conscious Shopper

By Holland Cooke

Joe Pags - Talkers MagazineWhenever possible, USA consumers will pay cash, and they’re paying-down credit card balances, per recently released Ipsos polling data.

Already coping with inflation and wary of a 2023 recession, consumers are in “need” vs “want” mode. They’re choosing generics and store brands and favoring purchases “made of high-quality and longer-lasting materials.”

One conspicuous exception to this growing frugality jumps-off the page…

Americans have a yen for vacation, if little else

“Alongside declining consumer confidence levels in the U.S., Ipsos online community members believe most of their cost-saving behaviors from the summer will continue, aside from cutting back on travel. Specifically, compared to the summer of 2022, they feel they are less likely to hold back on taking trips outside the home or making travel plans. After living through years of lockdowns and restrictions, they say travel isn’t something they are willing to give up in 2023.”

Graphics - Logo

Sales lead: Local travel agents

Local radio is still local businesses’ best friend defending against e-commerce competitors, and personal service is the silver bullet. Travel is an Internet DYI remorse category, after disappointing experiences squandered bargain shoppers’ precious vacation time and money.

Hear the copy? Travel agents who have taken tour wholesalers’ junkets can recommend in a seductive anecdotal fashion. They describe meals in mouth-watering detail. “After all we’ve been through the last couple years, you’ve earned it! And I will personally see to all the details.”

And brainstorm which other local businesses sell the “experiences” that consumers, increasingly, choose over “things?” It’s a clear trend that cuts-across all demographics.

DJs, talk hosts, remaining promotion people and local newscasters: Read the room.

This IPSOS report is a free PDF download that takes listeners’ temperature.

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins;” and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books.  Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke