Industry Views

Stop Throwing Away Weekends

By Walter Sabo
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host

Face - GlassesEvery radio sales presentation should start with one powerful number. This number – often found under the Sphinx – will dazzle any buyer, but is rarely revealed. The number is Homes Using Radio (HUR). Once upon a time it was part of the conversation. HUR shows how many people are using radio at any given time, a total number.

Studying hour-by-hour HUR reveals the most surprising fact: Saturday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm is the second-most, listening-to-radio daypart after Monday – Friday morning drive. If a station suffers in total weekly audience, the first culprit is often squandering Saturday 10-3!

John Catisimatidis, owner of WABC, New York has taken the station from the depths of despair and turned it into a strong contender. His first act as owner was to dump the paid-for weekend programming and replace it with live, local shows. You could trace the ratings jump on WABC to the moment he placed live shows on Saturday midday.

Bart Walsh, a very successful Washington, DC general manager taught me the secret of Saturday midday. He explained that if Saturday midday’s share is higher than the station’s overall total week share, the next book will go up. If it is lower than the total share, the next book will go down. Amazingly this phenomenon has always proven to be true. I always paid attention to Bart because when he ran WKYS it had a higher percentage of profit than anything else owned by RCA and when he and Donnie Simpson ran it, the station was always #1, 12+.  Bart never expensed lunch – or anything else.

The puzzler is that weekends on radio are a built-in win. Americans love weekends. Weekends conjure good feelings and offer discretionary time. Smart stations tap the positive imagery of weekends. Imagine how easy and cheap it would be for a talk station to talk up weekends!

Become the go-to source of weekend activity information. Give away fun prizes that are all weekend related. Go shopping. Share information about local sales and retailer events. The result will be – guaranteed – a significant jump in Monday AM drive cume.

Walter Sabo is a long-time radio industry consultant and thought leader.  He hosts and produces a network radio show titled “Sterling on Sunday” 10:00 pm-1:00 am ET.

Industry News

Round Two of Holiday PPMs Released

Norm Pattiz - WINSThe second of four rounds of ratings information from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2022 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including Washington, Boston, Miami, Seattle, Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis, San Diego, Tampa, Denver, Baltimore, and St. Louis. Nielsen’s Holiday 2022 sweep covered December 8 – January 4. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. In Washington, Cumulus Media’s news/talk WMAL-FM loses one-tenth to finish with a 3.4 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) but rises to the #7 rank, while Hubbard Broadcasting’s crosstown all-news WTOP-FM falls eight-tenths but remains ranked #3 in the market. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WRKO, Boston tacks on one-tenth to wrap the survey with a 2.8 share good for the #13 rank and sister all-news WBZ-AM also adds one-tenth for a 4.8 share finish that puts it in the #6 spot. In Seattle, Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM falls 1.1 shares to finish with a 5.5 share pushing it down to the #3 rank, while Lotus Communications’ all-news KNWN-AM/FM adds three-tenths for a 5.5 share that puts it in a tie for the #3 rank. See Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets here.

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Baseball Bonanza

By Holland Cooke

Joe Pags - Talkers MagazineAs The Beatles sang, “It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.” Baseball – even Spring Training while it’s still chilly in March – says “Here Comes the Sun.” That’s what baseball means… to listeners.

To local advertisers, it’s an opportunity for The Little Guy to sound big. In the words of one GM – who has made a pile of money selling baseball – “It’s ego and envy.”

Sales: It’s a thing, not a number

 The sponsorship package cannot be quantified on a-cost-per-ANYTHING basis. It’s not “efficient” in agency terms, but baseball is powerful “reputation appropriation.” Translation: Advertisers can tell the world they’re big-enough for baseball.

— The rapid-response plumber, the roofing repair guy, and the lumber yard or hardware store or any independent local retailer slugging-it-out against big box competitors can be part of the Astros or the Braves or the Cardinals or the Dodgers or the Rangers or the Giants brand.

— Low-hanging fruit: Prospects who are, personally, fans. For decades, we’ve been telling reps at conservative talk stations to pitch businesses that fly big American flags. So which local retailers do you know to be baseball fanatics?

— Milk the value-added stuff affiliates get. Include some tickets in the package. Take ‘em to a game and bring ‘em up to the broadcast booth for a selfie with the radio team. Can you rent a sky box for a game and throw a client party?

— Make a list of guys-who-own-guy-stuff businesses. Home improvement and auto repair have always been opportune.

— Second and third-generation retailers might family-feud about other things. But grandfather AND father AND son can agree on this expenditure lots quicker than you can get consensus about a ROS spot package on “Kiss” or “Lite” or “Magic.”

— Baseball is a high-affinity branding opportunity. I don’t know when I will need to buy a tire…because nails lurk. But I already know where I’ll buy it, because they advertise in Red Sox games. And get this! All year long, that particular advertiser says, in all his commercials, in a thick Boston accent, “You go, Red Saux!”

— Warm list: Who’s advertising on stadium signage? That’s an ego clue. But it’s just branding. Radio can add-value to that expense by “telling your story,” and adding a call-to-action.

— Baseball = beer, so prospect DUI defense attorneys, and auto body shops. 😉

— Reps: You’re not calling from KXXX. You’re calling from Padres Radio. The team logo is in your email and sales material.

— Way-back-when: As Mickey Mantle launched one into the cheap seats, Mel Allen would proclaim it “another Ballentine Blast!” Back to the future: I’ve been at games where everyone there got a free something because the team did such-and-such. Can you invent a cool feature for local sponsorship? Every listener who says they heard ___ gets free ____ the next day.

IMPORTANT: Update copy as the season progresses. This is a franchise, not plug-N-play programming that babysits nights and weekends. Nothing says auto-pilot and disserves clients like spots and promos that crow “Baseball is back!” in July.

I was the Motor-Mouth Manager

War story: I programmed WTOP, Washington in the 1980s, long before there were Washington Nationals. We were your Orioles Baseball Station; and I was managing a union shop…but I ended up joining AFTRA because our announcers were newscasters who couldn’t say “Mid-Atlantic Milk Marketing Association” as rapidly as I, an ex-1970s Top 40 DJ.

— So – believe it or not – the company paid my initiation fee. And every time there was a change in that 65 seconds-of-copy-crammed-into the 60-second opening billboard that ticked-off all the sponsors, I got ‘em all in, and I got $10-something in my Pension & Welfare Fund. Sweet. But I digress…

— To OUR ear, that whole word salad sounds hellishly rushed. But to ADVERTISERS, it’s like having your caricature on the wall at the see-and-be-seen steak house. Every business named there is a someone, associated with everyone else there. They’re part of a local Orioles or Mariners or Mets Baseball Who’s Who. And everyone who isn’t isn’t.

— I’ve been on calls with reps closing baseball packages because “It’s worth it just for the promos!” So, include sponsor mentions in ROS promos.

— That said, sell enough in-game frequency to be heard. Two or three spots per game won’t be.

Next week: Avoiding the most common error I hear baseball stations make.

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

Industry News

Industry Mourns the Passing of WRHU GM Bruce Avery

The vast Hofstra University community, its Lawrence Herbert School of Communication and the greater national radio broadcasting industry mourn the passing of longtime WRHU Radio general manager Bruce Avery.  Avery passed away peacefully at home Saturday evening (1/14) after losing a five-year battle against an aggressive form of prostate cancer.  He had held the position at the Long Island, NY facility – until his recent retirement in 2022 – since 1994.  During that 28-year period, he successfully mentored countless students of radio broadcasting and played a major role in building the multi-Marconi Award-winning WRHU-FM/ into a powerhouse among America’s campus radio stations. In 2021, WRHU was the recipient of theFace - Forehead prestigious “World Radio Day Award” from the Academy of Radio Arts and Sciences of America in conjunction with the United Nations‘ UNESCO General Conference.  Recent recipients of this high honor include WTOP, Washington, DC; 1010 WINS, New York; and KDKA-FM, Pittsburgh. WRHU is the only campus radio station to receive this award. Hofstra University president Susan Posner states, “Bruce was an incredible friend and mentor who had a major hand in turning WRHU into the multi-Marconi award winning station that it is today. We will truly miss Bruce and cherish everything he gave to WRHU. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”  Lawrence Herbert School of Communication dean Mark Lukasiewicz adds, “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Bruce’s widow Veronica, his children, and his extended family. We were fortunate to be able to celebrate Bruce’s career with him only a few months ago at his retirement luncheon, where former students and colleagues shared stories and fond memories of his decades of service at WRHU. At that event, we announced the establishment of an endowed scholarship in Bruce’s name, recognition of the deep impact he made on generations of students.”  For the past two decades, Avery also served as an extremely popular meteorologist on News12 Long Island which posted a heartfelt video tribute to his legacy that you can see here. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

Industry News

KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh Named Recipient of 2023 World Radio Day Award

The Academy of Radio Arts and Sciences of America announces that Audacy’s news/talk KDKA-AM/W261AX, Pittsburgh is the recipient of the 2023 World Radio Day Award. This special recognition commemorates World Radio Day, celebrated annually on February 13 in commemoration of the birth of United Nations Radio in 1946. It is the fourth annual award given to a U.S. radio station and honors the station thatElectronics - Electronic engineering “exemplifies the best attributes of the radio industry.” Recipients may be large or small, commercial or non-commercial, located in any market, and broadcasting in any language. The jury looks for stations that demonstrate “ideals of localism, audience reach, community service, effective use of new digital platforms, diversity in program content and staffing, as well as financial and ratings success.” Previous U.S. winners were Audacy’s WINS-AM, New York; Hofstra University’s WRHU-FM, Hempstead, NY; and Hubbard Broadcasting’s WTOP-FM, Washington. Audacy Pittsburgh SVP and market manager Michael Spacciapolli says, “This distinguished honor underscores not only KDKA’s unwavering commitment to delivering premier news coverage to the Pittsburgh communities, but the individuals who work tirelessly each and every day to make it happen. We’re proud to join the list of iconic heritage brands that represent the very best the radio industry has to offer.” Jurors included representatives of Fletcher Heald & Hildreth, Radio Ink, The Weiss Agency, TALKERS magazine, McVay Media Consulting, Audacy and Radio World.