Industry Views

Pending Business: Get Your Head Straight

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imAre you a multiplatform juggler? If you sell or manage for a radio station, the answer is yes.

Why? Because it’s been part of the radio ad sales DNA since radio advertising shrunk to single digit growth.

Maybe someone reading this column can research or remember the last time radio industry pre-pandemic ad sales grew at double digits. It’s a tough putt, for sure.

Radio sellers were the first to reach across the aisle and “cross-sell” event sponsorships, concert tie-ins, publications, prize catalogues, bridal fairs, recruitment fairs, half-off fairs, sports and leisure tie-ins, hurricane guides, meet and greets, and it all started with a simple concept called a “remote.”

Radio ad sales strategy has come a long way since the first five-year plan had no projected double-digit growth. Even worse was the negative growth forecast for many markets. I remember that famous local market slogan “last one out, please turn off the lights.”

Those simple, linear, fun-to-present packages that required nothing more than easy-to-follow graphics, reasonable pricing, and a testimonial letter required little training, re-skilling, and new technical understanding. The toughest questions were about electrical outlets, display details, and when do we load in?

Covid killed some of those income generators, but you can add in pre-pandemic tired, low-energy sellers and managers taking concepts for granted as the final nail in the coffin.

Wait a minute. Aren’t brides still making decisions? Is inflation driving us back to coupons and looking for daily deals? Seems like sports-related advertising always thrives, right?

Some concepts will return, others will be reimagined, and a few are gone forever. Back to the future. Digital and social media sales will shape your sales future whether you like it or not. The digital/social media growth trend is moving at a non-stop, double-digit pace, pushing every competitive sales team to learn more and sell faster.

Smart, energetic thinkers are planning the next move, reshaping the past for what will sell tomorrow. It’s been almost 25 years since the first Blackberry phone. Sometimes innovation leaves iconic concepts in the dust. Here is where all of this goes. Get your attitude ready to learn and earn.

— Your glass is never full. The next time a manager introduces a new opportunity open your thinking

— Ask questions. Remember “new” is a powerful sales world door opener. Be sure YOU know how this new opportunity works. Leave your ego outside the sales meeting.

— Local advertisers like a competitive edge. Procter & Gamble built the most successful package goods marketing in the world with “New and Improved.” Learn from the legacy winners.

Managers and sellers want to win new business. Are you prepared to learn how?

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 Views

Pending Business: Father’s Day

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imYou have still have six weeks to make Father’s Day your sales success. Stop taking for granted, this always undersold 100-plus-years-old celebration.

Father’s Day is a $20 billion business that rarely dominates a radio sales meeting. Did you have a full sales meeting devoted to selling into the Father’s Day gift giving cycle?

Your most valuable sales asset, your on-air personalities, can be helpful in brainstorming, collaborating, even creating unique sales opportunities. They know their audience.

The National Retail Foundation projects only an $80 difference in the average gift spends between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Still the typical radio ad sales team rarely takes the time necessary when it comes to brainstorming this annual opportunity. Unlike Mother’s Day where “natural” categories like flowers, candy, dinner, spa days, even jewelry make the annual target list, what does your target list look like for Father’s Day? How creative is your Father’s Day planning… especially since neckties are still out?

Could it be because Father’s Day was hatched in Spokane, Washington as a complement to its senior partner, Mother’s Day?

It really doesn’t matter. These takeaways may help guide your thinking as you approach any holiday marketing. Let’s start with a Father’s Day profile that should broaden your thinking:

— Forget the old school. Consider this: 81% of gift givers are looking for “unique” or “experience” oriented gifts. A true opportunity to open your prospecting targets. Would Dad enjoy a weekend staycation?

— Like it or not online shopping is becoming the norm, yet when it comes to Father’s Day, nearly 50% are still shopping at retail locations. Another reason to freshen up that prospecting list.

— Despite inflation, 76% of Americans will celebrate Father’s Day.

— The average spend is projected at $171. Not exactly Christmas numbers, but welcome income to any retailer.

Sellers and managers often overlook obvious income opportunities that could come easily. Chances are your local talent have a connection to Father’s Day that could make a difference on a sales call. Don’t overlook the opportunities right in front of you as you approach the next sales call.

Happy Father’s Day!

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 Views

Pending Business: You

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

I’m one of the lucky ones. In my marketing work I get to speak with radio/audio sellers and managers around the country at companies privately and publicly owned, as well as that increasingly rare breed – the radio station owner/operator. They all share one common fault. Yes, I said fault. Can you guess what it is? Probably not, because you too may share the same fault.

I’m one of the lucky ones as I was warned about this early in my career. Before we look in the mirror, let’s recall what Harry Beckwith said in his 2011 book, You, Inc. His premise was, “The first thing you sell is yourself.” Having trained hundreds of high achievers, my experience is that premise is one of the most subjective statements you will ever hear. How do you sell yourself with grace and humility? How does your ability to sell yourself stand head and shoulders above the next seller on the Zoom call or in the advertiser’s office without over-the-top braggadocio? While on calls with one high achiever, there was always a pause point where that seller took a side bar that started with, “Believe me, I’ve been working for ____ for __years…..” Sound familiar?

After a few calls on the same advertiser, the tenure pitch gets stale. The focus on “me” gets confused with building credibility through proven performance. Sorry, but You, Inc needs an update.

You see the missing link – the fault most sellers and managers share – is the lack of investment in “You.” In plain English, most sellers and managers fail to invest in themselves. We fail to recognize it takes a financial and time investment to keep our skills sharp, our minds focused on performance, and our teams coordinated with a win-win attitude.

There is a reason why high-level tennis professionals work and compete under the watchful eyes of well-compensated coaches and trainers. Pick a competitive career, from sports to entertainment, and somewhere in the mix you will find a coach, mentor, or trainer paid to help improve performance. But rarely will you find a seller or manager in the highly competitive radio/audio sales space investing in improving performance. Sorry to all you managers reading this, but who is coaching you?

Books, seminars, videos, online programs were and are still part of “stay sharp, stay current” training. Sales and managing sales departments is a moving target with change built into every day. Recruitment, strategy and digital dynamics move ahead with or without you. It is never too late to understand the investment necessary in “You” to keep sales and sales management skills improving every day.

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 Views

Pending Business: NAB – Never Assume the Basics

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Welcome to the NAB edition of Pending Business.

Wait, not that NAB. I am talking about the NAB that affects every manager and seller in the broadcast business, especially radio. This NAB is all about Never Assume the Basics.

Timing could not be better. Borrell and Associates just released a report that validates the Covid pandemic-driven changes in the local advertising marketplace. The shifts are so big, they most likely will change the ad world for a long time. The report shows the measurable local advertising marketplace is now at approximately $143 billion dollars. If you believe the numbers in the report, 67% of local ad dollars are placed in digital media advertising. Simple math says 33% of local ad dollars are now split, radio, TV, all print, outdoor and direct mail. Now that is a genuine showstopper!

These numbers are a tough pill to swallow, especially for those of us who remember the days when (print) newspapers were the king of the hill of local ad dollars. Whether you accept the numbers or not, the trend is your friend, and no manager or seller wants to be left behind. The major drivers behind this seismic shift in local ad dollars are the giants of social/digital media. Members of what TV personality Jim Cramer calls the FANG set – Facebook, Amazon, Google – you know what I am talking about. The shift in local dollars happened and continues happening right before our collective ears and eyes. Some of us are changing with the flow, others are still satisfied just reading a competitive radio monitor report during the Monday morning sales meeting.

Let us pause right here and get back to the danger of assuming the basics. You know what assuming can do, so let us regroup. Zoom back and take a treetop view of how you reconcile the basics of:

— local ad budgets

— sales prospecting

— packaging

What’s changed in your approach to prospecting? What NEW information and new businesses are you targeting? How has your competitive information flow adjusted to reflect local market changes? What is the newest package concept in your sales arsenal? Are you up to speed on the newer social and digital media initiatives in your local market?

Make no mistake, I am not advocating breaking the foundation. Yet we cannot ignore market dynamics. Some companies are driving change and growing in the digital/social media ad space, while others are slower. The great Teddy Roosevelt said “Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!” Leadership is never easy. When it comes to sales, it should be a constant goal. Do not let anyone push you out of the way.

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

Industry Views

Pending Business: How Would Elon Musk Price Radio?

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Theory vs. practice is always a fun exercise. What happens when someone is bold enough to step out and break the mold to achieve their goals? Do you stop and learn, or do you simply stay in your comfort zone and take a pass?

The headline was “Tesla Drops Prices Again” and they beat their quarterly sales goal. Do you drop your prices to make your sales goals? We are not talking about summer specials, weekend paid programming, or sports packages. Tesla made flat-out price reductions to roll the dice on volume, confident in the product and the marketplace to drive volume for the second time this year.

Ever visited a Tesla store? You will be shown a price card. Every time I asked a question, they tapped a keyboard. No real selling, just facts. Let us do a deeper Tesla-style analysis.


Why drop prices when you have nearly two-thirds of the EV market? Is it because your competition is gaining on you? Because you will miss your quarterly projections and you don’t like losing? Because an incentive to buy is about to expire (government credit)? Because you are a world class disruptor? Because you know by lowering prices you will own the news cycle? Because there is still room for old school price wars to stimulate demand and distract the competition?

Survey says, all of the above. How about the opposite? What if Tesla’s strategy was like what most of the radio managers and sellers reading this article would do? The “urgency” trigger. “Buy today, because prices will go up on ______.” The radio/audio “urgency” pitch strategy is so predictable – seasonal, political window, a change in management policy, sell-out level. Heck, Teslas are on back order and they still dropped prices. WWED? What would Elon do? Probably fire us via Twitter. Back to earth and our highly competitive radio/audio world. Here are the takeaways.

— Know your competition. My current experience in one of America’s largest radio markets is price strategy IS driving volume and helping a great radio station make goals. The higher-rated competitor is standing still as the business shifts.

— You don’t have to be loud to be a disruptor. Sitting Bull won by knowing how to sell his idea. He organized, collaborated and was patient. He won by quietly disrupting then got loud when the timing was perfect.

— Do your homework. “Urgency” as a price lever has been around since the Mad Men ran Madison Avenue. Have you ever reviewed how your urgency plan can be maximized? Or is the strategy played out?

— Who Cares? If you lower rates today until New Year’s Eve, will the rate reduction create enough local market buzz to drive the volume to beat your goals? You can always raise rates once your foundation is comfortably in place. Oops! Did I just demonstrate real world grid card selling?

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

Industry News

Pending Business: Attracting New Recruits

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Ask any sales manager what the #1 challenge they face is and nine times out of 10 the surprise answer is not “more business.” Generating more business takes a well-oiled machine that starts and ends with a focused, well-trained sales team. And therein lies the challenge question I hear every week. “Where can I find more good salespeople?”

With all the sophisticated technology available today – from Zoom and Teams to data mining and social media – it is hard to comprehend why any viable radio station would have difficulty recruiting “good salespeople.” I rarely faced that challenge in any of the markets where I worked. No matter what the ownership structure or market size – from Buffalo to San Francisco – recruiting and retaining “good salespeople” was only an occasional problem.

If you are a manager at any level, in any market, responsible for recruiting and training “good salespeople,” you may never view the task the same way again if you follow these six simple steps:

1)         Recruitment should always be on your “To Do” list. Always, period, the end. Like the sun rises every morning, recruitment is a regular part of your day.

2)         Times are changing, build your bench. If your sales team is a mix of generations, any given team member may decide to move on for reasons you may not understand. Be prepared. Turnover happens, don’t be ambushed.

3)         Do you have a written profile of the ideal candidate for sales? Sound crazy? Try it right now. What are the three must-have qualities of every successful seller on your team? Those qualities may now be changing with newer digital, social media, and programming changes.

4)         Is your compensation structure competitive? This is one of my favorites. Depending on ownership you may or may not have the degree of flexibility you want. However, you may find a friendlier structure through performance incentives.

5)         Would you trust members of your current team to interview a candidate? I used the technique often over 15 years. Sometimes the culture in your sales department is unique or you may feature team performance incentives. The power of teams is a proven winner in most businesses.

6)         Are you plugged in to the new-think of today’s entry-level seller? Here are some current facts that may change your view of recruiting younger sellers:

   a) A study at the University of Chicago showed 56% of Americans think a college degree is not worth the money. Wow, is that different from most job postings!

b) As job markets become unpredictable, 97% of graduating seniors are open to alternative careers, as in not their major, this according to a study by iCIMS.

Finding “good salespeople” should never be viewed as a management headache. Once you make the commitment, the next great seller could be your next interview.

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 Views

Pending Business: Planning & Organization

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

On a scale of one to 10, where would you rank yourself on planning and organization?

If you are the #1 seller on your team, how do you rank your ability to plan and organize? If you are working your way to the top, how prepared and organized does the #1 seller on your team look?

Planning and organization don’t mean every hour is filled. Top-tier sellers know interruptions are a given. Demands change on a moment’s notice and change is a constant. The day-to-day selling environment is rarely a walk in the park.

The underlying question is how do you prepare to plan? How do you evaluate the opportunity flow to determine what to emphasize and what to abandon? Which projects do you add, and which ones do you delete?

These are tough calls – these drop/adds – as you painstakingly review time, effort, and emotional attachment in each of your sales projects. But here is the good news. All of us, every seller and every manager, can use fresh eyes on planning and organizational skills. To that end, here is my simple gift to you. A timeline of 13 upcoming sales opportunity events that should be income generators. Let us liberally countdown the sales lead time from today, Monday, March 27 to many of the income producing events that drive your sales calendar. Your specific station may not directly tie-in, however, many of your local sponsors are planning right now. So, let us get busy:

Mother’s Day              6 weeks
Memorial Day             7 weeks
Father’s Day               12 weeks
Independence Day      14 weeks
College Football         22 weeks (Season kickoff)
Labor Day                   23 weeks
NFL                            24 weeks (Season kickoff)
Halloween                   31 weeks
Election Day               32 weeks
Veterans Day              32 weeks
Thanksgiving              34 weeks
Christmas                    38 weeks
New Year’s Eve          39 weeks

There sits the 2023 friend or foe selling calendar before your eyes. Do you have the historics, wins/losses and opportunities organized? How about your competitors? What about newer digital and social media integrations that may need more lead time? Is there any turnover in decision makers at key accounts? Ready to wake up and smell the coffee?

Every high achiever knows, everyone wants to win. But are you properly prepared and positioned to win? Another three minutes of planning a day goes a long way!

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

Industry Views

Pending Business: The News Cycle

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Photography - BroadcastingIt is an unpredictable thing, this news cycle that drives the headlines.

One day we’re talking about the shortcomings in the American banking system, the next day we’re talking about the ramifications of criminally indicting a past president of the United States. Will somebody please grab a copy of the Constitution? We may need a panel of experts to talk us through what this all means to those of us paying crazy prices for eggs.

The news cycle is spinning faster these days and your news/talk programming should prove to be the go-to source to take a short break from March Madness and slow the news cycle down. Please do not be sidetracked about selling through the negativity that may accompany many of these story lines. As a seller or sales manager, your singular objective is to connect the value of an engaged audience to match your advertiser’s goals, moving the sales process to a natural, positive conclusion. In plain English, stay focused on the goal and close your deals. Let’s review some basics.

— Complex issues are nothing new. Your tenured talk radio hosts have built their careers by helping loyal listeners gain a better understanding of the headlines driving the news cycle.

— Loyalty is the key. Like it or not, criminally indicting a former president of the United States has never happened before. It is complicated to say the least and your audience will trust your on-air talents to present the facts, opinions, and discussion. What does it all mean to me? The audience has been here before and chances are your on-air talent has delivered the clarity and focus they needed when it counted the most.

— Community check-in. Talk radio is the #1 source for your audience to get a better feel for how the community is reacting. That electronic, now digital water cooler is in overdrive. What is everyone thinking?

— The unfolding drama. Let’s face it, we all have an opinion and we all enjoy speculating on what’s next. Talk radio is the perfect forum where your audience will weigh in every day.

When your talk show hosts are front and center, doing what they do best in a meaningful and entertaining way, your advertisers experience the benefits of what only your great talk radio hosts can deliver.

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:

Industry Views

Pending Business: What’s a Sale?

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Photography - BroadcastingLet’s take a lesson from arguably the greatest college basketball coach of all time: John Wooden.

The coach wanted every UCLA player on the same page, so he took time in meetings to explain the proper way to put on those old school basketball socks. You know, the ones that came up to mid-calf, usually double stripped at the top. There was a clear method to Wooden’s genius. Taking meeting time to show budding superstars like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Walton something so fundamental achieved several goals.

 — Fundamentals count. There is nothing more basic than how to properly put on your socks and mastering the basics wins.

— Short cut the basics and you will suffer. Having worn those socks through thousands of school yard games myself, rush the process and painful blisters follow.

— Every player starts every practice, every game the same way.

Every year I would conduct one sales meeting asking my team to answer the question, “Can you define a sale?” I know, that’s way too basic for sellers earning six figures. It’s an embarrassing waste of time for the tenured sellers who had proven themselves in the field every day. Was I wasting the time of those newer team members who were looking forward to the highest commission rate in the market?

Try it. Chances are you will get so many different answers your sales team will seem like a Cirque du Soleil act.

There IS a simple, legal definition of a sale. It all starts with an “exchange.” Once you dissect the definition and focus on the dynamics of the “exchange” you will understand how and why a sale is a process that needs constant care.

Most sellers and managers move right past that critical dynamic. You know the one that requires confidence from both the buyer and the seller. That one dynamic, the exchange between confident buyer and seller goes back to 1626 when it was rumored Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island for 60 guilders or $24.

There is something to be said for getting all sellers on the same page by starting with the basics.

John Wooden’s record 11 national championships still stands. I figured if it worked for the greatest college basketball coach of all time, it could work for me. Emphasizing the basics should work for you too!

Enjoy the Madness this March.

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:

Industry Views

Pending Business: AI Meets Sales

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Talk radio - PodcastHave you picked up the most recent buzz around Artificial Intelligence? It’s hard to miss it.

Seems like the AI buzz is getting louder as more companies face the pressure to improve efficiency and profitability during this roller coaster economy. From Silicon Valley’s tens of thousands of layoffs to Steak ‘n’ Shake closing 30 locations, the heat is on.

Companies vested in the terrestrial radio business have known this pressure for years as we function in a world of single-digit growth and AM radio stations going dark as the real estate is worth more than the FCC license. For the first time, some of the players on the podcast side are feeling the financial heat as the congested podcast world fights for highly competitive ad dollars.

How can AI be a resource in the broadcast radio and podcast ad sales world? Here are two examples of what could be around the corner on your next sales email, Zoom or from the office phone pitch.

— AI audio/phone recognition. Imagine software tracking your phone pitch or Zoom call collecting phrases that identify rate objections, efficiency objections, competitive objections, talent objections, even content objections. Management teams skilled in reviewing the “phrase data” analyze everything from the number of times the objection is raised to the category or tenure of advertiser raising the objection(s). Fast forward to solutions. If your team is made up of multiple sellers with various levels of experience and similar objection(s) appear frequently, management responses and adjustments happen faster, with less stress as the numbers tell the story, not the seller in a confessional. Those adjustments appear in coaching bubbles on your screen as you engage.

— AI shows us the phrase that pays. By now you should know many of the key words and phrases that are sales friendly, grab attention and move you to a close. As well as the opposite – those dreaded turn-off words that turn a warm conversation into stone-cold ghosting. What if the AI software interfaces with your emails? AI could be programmed to identify the key phrases that help close a deal as well as those that are deal busters. I once attended a sales seminar that coached away from using the word “contract.” Not a good takeaway for me. All I could imagine was the legal team slapping their foreheads.

Something tells me the AI software discussed already exists working in the field somewhere helping a sales team become more efficient and crushing the earnings barrier. It’s only a question of when our radio/audio world will be smart enough to adapt the tools for a smarter sales path.

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:

Industry Views

Pending Business: How Are We Doing?

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Talkers Magazine - Talk radioHow might we better serve you in the future? How would you rate our service?

These are two common questions you will see on many restaurant info cards as you pay for your meal. After all, the restaurant business is fundamentally based on great food and great service at a reasonable price. Think about this: If either of those two basic components, food (product) and service are missing, you are outta there!

Our radio/audio sales business is based on the same thing: great product and great service at a reasonable price. Yet, why is it you will never find yourself or a manager asking those questions as a part of your regular follow-up or follow-through routine? Oh sure, there is the ever-present pre-sell, “How can we help?” as your advertiser mutters, “lower rates,” under their breath. But seriously, no one above or below your pay grade can process or properly evaluate the answers to the two service questions posed, let alone act intelligently on the response. Could it be we still think our sales and management roles are rooted in show business and if we put on a great show delivering great ratings the advertisers will follow?

Some advertisers will show up, others need to be sold. With Zoom, Teams, programmatic, AI and other initiatives gaining more and more traction, the service improvements in salesmanship is becoming a lost art.

Time to hit the pause button, step back and learn from our friends in one of the oldest business categories on planet earth: hospitality. Let’s learn.

— Ask for feedback as you “serve.” Since my first meeting, my mantra for sellers and sales management was and still is, “How are we doing?” Go back to your winning and losing sales calls. Even managers should review meetings that did or did not move sales and ask, “How can I better serve______?”

— One step at a time. If you could improve just one thing to better serve an advertiser, what would it be? What could it be? Do you even know?

— Do you care? Ouch! Now that is a hard core, in-your-face question. Comfort zones are just so easy to occupy, we rarely push forward.

My real-world experience happened years ago when I asked our advertisers what we could do better to serve them. Many host-read advertisers wanted times sent to them in advance so they could hear the talent in real time. Every one of those advertisers became longterm fans. Do you send your advertisers host-read times in advance? Sometimes, it’s the little improvements that win big dollars when it counts.

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:

Industry Views

Pending Business: Being Realistic About Podcast Revenue

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Talkers Magazine - Talk radioIt looks like the podcast business is hitting those ever-present speedbumps.

No, I am not predicting a demise. I’m just asking why there weren’t a few more hardball questions.

If you sell or manage with eyes wide open, you’ve already read what the February 15 New York Times article chronicled. The cutbacks, drops, and hiring freezes hitting the double-digit-growth podcast business has some in the radio business saying, “Told ya so.”

Who has the chutzpah to say that to Tom Brady and Michael Strahan of Religion of Sports, or Michelle Obama of “The Michelle Obama Podcast?” When your bank account is on fumes, you speak the economic truth. The formula of star power driving unique audio content didn’t instantly convert to super-sized audience levels attracting super-sized revenue. What did VOX, Spotify, Amazon, NPR and other well-respected players miss?

— Never assume, (because assuming…) An out-of-the-box assumption listeners would pay for content to create a separate income stream, didn’t really take. Even the most aggressive marketer would think twice before assuming that listeners generating millions of downloads of free podcasts would suddenly pay to listen. Maybe a select few passionate followers would, but could you change the historic perceived value of the masses? When it comes to paywalls for play, be sure to test, adjust, and re-test before you project income.

— Ad sales sell out levels. A typical podcast has about a quarter of the inventory available in a typical hour of most news/talk and sports talk programs. Yet despite podcasts with limited inventory and higher CPM for host-read ads inside the podcasts, the projections from those well-respected companies tanked. The reason is elegantly simple. Too much podcast inventory chasing too few dollars.

— It’s the economy, stupid. Thank you, political strategist James Carville. The story goes the phrase was on a sign in Bill Clinton’s campaign headquarters and helped Clinton beat Geroge Bush in 1992. Did any of the gurus consider the economy?

— Who would have thought print newspaper sales have something in common with podcasts? Did anyone consider the impact of endless ad inventory becoming a commodity despite celebrity content? Never easy to predict which celebs will convert from the big screen or TV to podcast audio.

I had the privilege of producing cast members of Discovery’s “American Chopper” in a 39-episode podcast series. Even those crazy motorcycle dudes were challenged bringing their millions of TV and online fans to the podcast world. Hindsight is 20/20. Let’s never stop learning so we can always aim for higher earnings.

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:

Industry Views

Pending Business: Your Trial Balloon

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Talk radio - Talkers MagazineIf you float a trial balloon, expect it to be shot down.

And to make the story driving the news headlines a better metaphor for our sales world, it should be noted that gathering information is always part of our mission. Sellers and managers should be floating trial sales balloons all the time.

Consider how many times we talk to our best advertisers to float an idea, a package, picking up a known talent or play-by-play rights to a popular team. But here is where the news story and our sales world take different forks in the road. Although the woods are full of downed sales balloons, it’s a good thing. Because in our sales world downed trial balloons mean we’re trying new things, communicating with our advertisers and not rocking along in the comfort zone. It also means some of these trial balloons make it to reality and become innovative ideas and viable sales opportunities.

I have certainly floated my share. There is a strategy behind floating a trial sales balloon to help you get the result you need. How do you improve the odds of a trial balloon becoming a sales reality? Here are some field tested tips:

— Determine your goals before you start. It’s so important to know what you’re looking for. Pricing input? Viability? Excitement? Sometimes sellers are so excited they misread the advertiser’s enthusiasm level. The reverse is also true. Sellers can be lukewarm as they focus on the transaction ahead instead of the first stage advertiser input.

— Ask permission. This is very important yet most sellers and managers never think about the advertiser reaction. What if they just don’t want to be surveyed? Always ask first.

— Confirm the confidence. Be sure everyone in your loop understands the trust you show in seeking their input.

— Keep your “ask” simple. You are asking for input. The simpler the ask, the cleaner the input.

— No commitments. Be clear the conversation you are having is early-stage preliminary to test the waters only. You are not even close to asking for a commitment, just sharing ideas and looking for input.

— Who wants to know? Be ready with the right answer.

Sellers and managers have been in the trial balloon business since the first ad was sold. Be sure to review your pre-flight check list before launching that next trial balloon.

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:

Industry Views

Pending Business: Don’t Take Your Air Talent for Granted

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Photography - SearchingI’ll bet dollars to doughnuts the updated sales facts below are nowhere to be found in your radio station’s collateral material. This bold challenge is in front of you today as a wakeup call before the calendar becomes your frenemy.

The traditional calendarized selling events are about to begin starting with Valentine’s Day and you need to be current. Ratings, on-air lineup, and outside marketing may be out of your control but sharpening your selling skills and updating presentation materials is totally a selfie.

I’ve used many “wow” stats on sales calls – sometimes together, sometimes separately – but they’re always an important part of the pitch. Radio metric showstoppers with local appeal are mission critical in today’s fast-moving sales environment. Here’s a three-point, freshen-up to be integrated strategically when packaging or in stand-alone radio presentations. Use them or lose them, but at least choose to consider them.

— Nearly 80% of listeners say they would try a product or service recommended by their favorite radio personality, so says The Power of Local Radio Personalities study published by Katz last year. Now that is one heavy duty number! Careful about making this a universal, across-the-board statistic. Recommending a retirement community to the Gen Z audience is a non-starter. But when the radio talent is talking to that 55+ crowd in the right talk radio environment, that sound you hear is the phone lighting up with leads. When great creative is delivered by a great radio personality the audience comes alive.

— “79% of on-line searches are initially prompted with hearing an ad on radio,” according to Harvard Media, a Canadian marketing firm. The hard number may seem high for many of us, but the concept of using radio to enhance a multi-platform campaign, especially at the local level, is a tried-and-true formula. Call the concept what you will – media mix, multi-channel/platform – consistent messaging across the board delivers results.

— Digital disconnects. Ad blockers are in. According to a recent Hubspot survey update, 64% of ad blocker users say ads are intrusive while another 54% say ads are disruptive. Talk about negativity compared to the nearly 80% of radio listeners who consider their favorite personalities a trusted friend. We all want to hear what our friends have to say!

Chances are your basic sales materials are 2022 rollovers. Freshen up your look and give yourself a new reason to make the next call.

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:

Industry Views

Pending Business: Package for Profit

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Matt Damon - PhotographyIs it just me, or has packaging become a lost art?

What was once a go-to revenue builder, has become a function of muscle memory and is presented with the enthusiasm of watching paint dry. Am I getting at least a “maybe?” If so, and you feel like the packaging treadmill is going to wearing you down, let’s regroup. For the manager and ultimately the seller, every package must answer four basic questions:

  • That is the (revenue) goal?
  • What is the timeline?
  • What is the unique factor?
  • If it fails to sell, do we drop it or revise?

Now let’s review the 10 basic packages:

  • New Business. You should have a simple new business package available each quarter that can either be sold as is or serve as a start point.
  • Event Tie-In. Like the title says, this package will help your advertiser benefit from an event your station is tied into or sponsoring.
  • New On-Air Talent. This is where you show the value-based opportunity to work with a new talent in your lineup.
  • Special Programming. Every radio format will run a special program of some kind during the year. From election coverage and exclusive interviews to countdowns, just package and sell.
  • Slow Season. Is there a special package offered on a limited basis to help power through when business hits a red light?
  • Sports. Needs no definition, just a little updated creative thinking.
  • Calendar Holidays. This is the gift that never stops giving. Mother’s Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, come every year. What’s new in your package?
  • Base Programming. News, Traffic, Weather, if your radio station offers the basic service elements, talk to your programming people for new packaging ideas.
  • Emergency Programming. With direct coordination of programming, emergency programming offering special weather, disaster or other community-oriented programming can always open a new door. Remember this type of programming is always a spotlight for radio’s immediacy.
  • Bundling your digital and social media assets can help move the needle with local advertisers. I’m not advocating a giveaway, just suggesting competitive thinking in the fast moving, high growth digital advertising universe.

Back to where we started. This is the simple takeaway: Packaging is the art and science of selling with a value component that easily answers the question, “Why buy now?”

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:

Front Page News Industry News

Monday, November 14, 2022

Industry Mourns Jim Bohannon.  Veteran talk radio host Jim Bohannon has died at age 78, at the Prisma Health Cottingham Hospice House in South Carolina after losing a hard fought battle with esophageal cancer. He was born January 7, 1944 in Corvallis, OR, where his father was stationed in the U.S. Army during WWII. After the war, the family moved back to their home town to Lebanon, MO, where Jim grew up and graduated from Lebanon High School in 1962. He attended Missouri State University in Springfield, MO, before joining the military. His service in the U.S. Army Security Agency with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade included a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967-68. Jim’s radio career began in high school working at KLWT, and in college at KICK, and KWTO.  After his return stateside, Jim was stationed at Vint Hill Farms Station, VA, and worked at radio stations WGAY, WTOP, and WRC in the Washington, DC market. He joined the Mutual Network in 1983, which later became Westwood One Radio. He began anchoring America in the Morning news magazine, hosting the Saturday night Jim Bohannon Show, and filling in on the Larry King Show. In 1993, Larry King moved to CNN, and the radio show became the Jim Bohannon Show, which Jim hosted until shortly before his death. His distinctive voice, wit and wisdom was aired on some 500 radio stations nationwide. Jim has been honored to be the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of his talent and contributions to the radio industry. This includes his induction into the National Broadcasting Hall of Fame by the National Association of Broadcasters, the Missouri Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, the Radio Hall of Fame of the Museum of Broadcast Communication, and the Society of Professional Journalists, DC Chapter Hall of Fame. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from TALKERS magazine, and the First Amendment Award from the Radio and Television Digital News Foundation. He was especially pleased to receive the Gold Award from the International Radio Festival of New York for his documentary, “Pain and Pride- Remembering Vietnam,” and to be a 2003 inductee to the Wall of Honor in his hometown of Lebanon, MO. He was a lifetime member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Vietnam Veterans of America. Jim is survived by his wife, Annabelle Bohannon, of Westminster, SC, and daughter, Elizabeth Smith of Janesville, WI.  Per Jim’s wishes no formal services will be held at this time. The family is at their respective homes.  In lieu of flowers, donations in Jim’s memory are suggested to any organization of your choice that serves to support the needs of veterans.  A message of condolence may be written to the family by visiting www.sandiferfuneralhome.comTALKERS publisher Michael Harrison states: “Jim Bohannon was one of the greatest radio broadcasters of all time, plain and simple.  His talent was only surpassed by the personal esteem in which his fellow broadcasters held him.  He was the very definition of a ‘good guy’ through and through.”  Harrison recently recorded the last official interview with Jim Bohannon that is posted on PodcastOne click here.

Remembering Overnight Sensation Jim Bohannon. TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Bohannon a number of times over the years for personality profile pieces in the radio trade press. He says, “‘Class act’ epitomized peerless communicator Bohannon, who – while enjoying the luxury of a national Westwood One platform – possessed a palpably authentic on-air style that enamored him to a huge, loyal following. Always remarkably accessible, ‘Jimbo’ was unfailing in offering his vast expertise to the industry as a whole and to aspiring broadcasters. Moreover, he exuded a truly unique warmth that will be missed beyond measure.” Read Mike Kinosian’s piece here.

Monday Memo: Your Podcast “Bones,” Part Deux. In last week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke recommended to podcasters that shorter-is-better. This week, HC recommends a format for longer-form episodes. Read his column here.


Pending Business: When the Crystal Ball Is Foggy. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column that “the current economic cycle is being driven by a sweeping round of cutbacks and strategic business re-focus.” He says that as a result, “the clock is ticking on the adjustments you should consider to jump-start 2023.” He offers a quick checklist to consider as you deal with a changing economic climate. Read it here.


Urban One’s Sports Talk WFNZ, Charlotte Names New Midday Shows. Today (11/14) marks the launch of new midday programming on Urban One’s Charlotte sports talk WFNZ-AM/FM “Sports Radio 92.7.” The station introduces the new 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm show “Wes & Walker” starring Wes Bryant (left) and Walker Mehl (right). Bryant is a host, producer, editor and voice-over artist for the ACC Digital Network in Charlotte.  He’s hosted ACC Digital Network’s “Kickoff Live,” a college football pregame show and “Wes Got Range,” a lifestyle show joining food and local area athletes together. Most recently he was the 2021-2022 season pre- and post-game host for the Charlotte Hornets broadcasts on Bally Sports South. Mehl hosts the “Locked on Hornets” podcast and has served as a guest host on WFNZ. Station PD Jeff Rickard says, “I’m excited to hear from two talented young men who are not only entertaining and engaging, but true native sons of the Queen City. I’m looking forward to hearing their hometown takes on all things Charlotte sports. I can’t wait for our listeners to learn more about them and enjoy the upcoming ride.” Rickard is also debuting his new late morning show titled, “Charlotte Sports Today,” that airs from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. The “Mac Bone” show continues is morning drive and Kyle Bailey remains the PM drive personality.

Audacy Names Seema Kumar SVP of Advertising Platforms. Advertising pro Seema Kumar joins Audacy as SVP of advertising platforms for the company. In this role, she’ll lead the team members responsible for the technology platforms for Audacy’s revenue organization, “ensuring that roadmaps and requirements are prioritized for vendors and IT ad tech engineers, aligned with ad product strategy and revenue goals, and optimized to meet business operational needs.” Kumar comes to Audacy from her most recent position as VP of advertising technology for WarnerMedia. Audacy EVP of advertising technology, products and platforms Terri Gunnell states, “We’re thrilled to welcome Seema to the team as we elevate our strategy and focus on the interoperability of our ad platforms to support growing our revenue in partnership with sales and creating efficiencies for sales operations. Her deep ad tech platform experience and forward-thinking business acumen will ensure we improve service to our internal and external clients and partners as well as enhance our ability to innovate in 2023 and beyond.”

WRKO, Boston’s Radiothon Raises $86,000 for Disabled Veterans. On Thursday and Friday of last week (11/10 & 11) iHeartMedia news/tak outlet WRKO, Boston produced its seventh annual DAV Radiothon to benefit the Disabled American Veterans Department of Massachusetts and raised $86,000. Over the two days, WRKO on-air personalities Jeff Kuhner, Chuck Zodda and Mike Armstrong encouraged listeners to donate and raise funds for the DAV of Massachusetts’ homeless shelter and transportation programs. iHeartMedia Boston VP of news, talk, sports Rob Sanchez says, “Every year the WRKO listeners amaze me with their generosity. Once again, they have helped to raise $86,883 for the DAV of Massachusetts. We’re proud to be able to support the DAV of Massachusetts and show that WRKO, our listeners and our sponsors are always willing to help the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our great country.” Since 2016, DAV Radiothon has raised more than $886,000 to benefit veterans in the community.

Midterm Results, Trump in ’24, Biden Meets Xi, G-20 Summit, The Economy/Crypto Meltdown, Deadly Virginia and Idaho Shootings, Russia-Ukraine War, and Social Media Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The aftermath of last week’s midterm elections including the Democrats’ hold on the U.S. Senate and the still-unknown status of the U.S. House; former President Donald Trump’s expected run for president in 2024; President Joe Biden meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping over tense issues including Taiwan; the meeting of G-20 leaders in Bali; U.S. inflation, job reports and concerns about a recession, combined with the freefall of crypto-currency; the fatal shooting of three at the University of Virginia and the deaths of four University of Idaho students; Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and its exit from Kherson; and the troubles at Elon Musk’s Twitter, Meta’s Facebook, and the future of social media were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.