radio morning team membersRecently I’ve written about the importance of “honoring the verbal reality” on a radio morning show (or any daypart).

Every on-air team member needs to understand what the show is trying to accomplish at any given time.

Some team members, however, just don’t get it. In fact, some don’t know they’re even supposed to be team members.

The most extreme example I’ve ever witnessed was in the UK at a BBC regional station, where I was brought in to coach the breakfast show.

The presenter was very good, creative, inventive.

One of his guests demonstrated — on the radio programme — the art of tap dancing.

They brought in a board and a studio mic picked up the sounds of the guest…tapping.

In an inspired moment, the host decided that all the other guests on his show that morning would tap dance.

Callers, weather reports, traffic reports…He played tap dancing sound effects beneath each of them:

“Sally, this morning I’d like you to tap dance during your weather report.”

“Oh, okay.” And Sally would just go ahead and give the weather while the presenter added the SFX.

It was a bizarre, funny little bit, and everyone played along.

Everyone except the station’s traffic reporter up in the station’s traffic copter.

“By the way, Ian, if you don’t mind I’d like for you to tap dance while you tell us what the traffic is like.”

“No, thanks.”


News Flash! Except for that one person who came carrying a plank of wood and wearing taps on his shoes, no one on the breakfast show really was tap dancing that morning.

The traffic reporter knew that, because the host had explained it to him off-the-air.

Why in the world did he say, “No thanks”?

He didn’t realize he’s not a traffic reporter. He’s (supposed to be) part of a radio morning show team.


A Loyal Reader Writes:

“I have purchased your manual on copyright laws as pertains to commercial production.

“I have a situation that I was hoping you could shed some light on, because I’m not sure if I understood it correctly or not in your manual.

“National Kia has purchased the rights and uses the new Maroon 5/ Adam Levine song Animals in their commercials. Our local Kia dealership has purchased advertising with us and wants to use the same song in their commercials.

“Can they?”


Not even if the local dealership cries and yells and stamps its feet.

If your local Kia dealer wants to use the Maroon 5 song in its commercials, they’ll need to negotiate a license fee…which I kinda doubt will be within their budget.

Please see the bottom of Page 26 of your copy of THE ULTIMATE, NON-LAWYER’S GUIDE TO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IN RADIO COMMERCIALS…And How To Avoid It.


“…and it didn’t work.”

car dealer radio commercialHere’s another 15-second waste of radio advertising time for a car dealer:


The possibility that that spot was pasted together from a longer, perhaps more coherent commercial doesn’t excuse that monstrosity.

Listeners don’t hear it as “part of a package the car dealer bought.” They hear — or ignore — it as a standalone radio ad, because that’s what it is.

It begins with…what else? The name of the advertiser.

That tells the audience that this message isn’t about them. It’s about Premier Dodge.

The entire first sentence is nonsensical:

“Premier Dodge, the auto dealer who values your time that can take you all the way to the Nascar Weekend in Las Vegas.”

Actually, that’s not a sentence. It’s just nonsensical.

What the heck is that radio commercial about?

The car dealership?


Test drives?

Maybe you’ll see that guy you don’t know in Las Vegas?

“So what, Dan? What’s the problem? The advertiser isn’t complaining.”

The problem is:

1.  The advertiser is throwing his money away, and the radio station has a responsibility to help its clients make money with their advertising.

2.  Every time your radio station airs a commercial like that one, it conditions the audience not to listen to any of your ads.

It harms that one advertiser, it harms all your advertisers, and it harms your radio station by actively encouraging your listeners to tune out whenever a commercial begins to play on your station.  

But the car dealer got to say his name on the radio, so I guess it was worth it.



by Dan O'Day on February 25, 2015

Magic of RadioPreviously I’ve written about radio people who “deny the verbal reality” and how they harm the audience’s listening experience.

One of the examples I gave was of a traffic reporter at a public radio station in Los Angeles.

The same week that blog posting was published, she continued her practice of destroying whatever pictures are in the minds of the audience.

She has begun the traffic report, then momentarily is at a loss for words.

Then she explains, “I’m trying to scroll down more on my monitor to see what’s happening there….”


Hey, Traffic Reporter. Let me explain it to you:

The magic of radio lies in the fact that every day we do things our listeners cannot do themselves.

Your listeners don’t know exactly how you’re able to tell them what is happening on what freeway.

Some assume you’re got a hotline to the California Highway Patrol.

They don’t have a hotline to the CHP.

Others are certain your radio station has a weather balloon, providing you with continuously updated, real-time traffic images.

They don’t have a weather balloon.

But wait! You’re…looking at your computer monitor? That’s where you’re getting your traffic information?

Guess what? Your listeners have computer monitors, too.

They can go to websites that display real-time traffic patterns.

You, Ms. Traffic Reporter, have taken away the magic of radio.

Radio without magic = just another appliance.


Radio commercial 15 secondsWhen you have only 60 or 30 seconds, radio advertising requires a strong message, crafted and delivered with a strong focus.

When you have just 15 seconds, you need to say exactly one thing.

Clearly and compellingly.

Listen to this radio spot for a Los Angeles area car dealer.


Turn your head to the right.

Turn your head to the left.

Blink three times.

Okay, what’s the one big message you recall hearing in that radio commercial for Subaru of Santa Monica?

If you remember anything at all, most likely it’s “Offer ends February 28th.”

But it’s very unlikely that you know what the offer is.

In fact, I guarantee you don’t know what the offer is, because they don’t tell you.

Here’s a breakdown of the radio commercial script:

1. “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru.”

They must have a reason for declaring that love makes a Subaru.

Mustn’t they?

2.  Listen several times, and you’ll decipher this:

“Get big savings during the Subaru True Love Event at Subaru of Santa Monica.”

The announcer has to talk so fast to squeeze in all those worthless words that he garbles a few of them…and either he or the spot’s producer decides to save time by omitting the last syllable of the name of the city where the car dealer is located.

3.  The owner of the car dealership introduces himself and invites you to…Wait, let me replay it…

Oh, right. He invites you to “come in and see the difference today.”

To what “difference” is he referring? That forever will remain a mystery.

He has nothing to say but not enough time in which not to say it. So the producer remedies this by speeding up the owner’s voice.

And the reason the owner of the dealership suddenly appears on this commercial is…Uh….

4.  Next comes two seconds (13% of the commercial) devoted to, “I paid someone for this jingle, dammit, so I’m going to use it!”

5.  More garbled words that include “online” and “specials.”

6.  The clear, easy to understand declaration of the expiration date for whatever the advertiser is offering.

Who among the people responsible for this car dealer radio commercial believes this spot in any way has value to the advertiser?

The automobile dealer who paid for it?

The ad agency that produced it?

The radio station that aired it?

Hey, it’s possible to produce a positive R.O.I. with a 15-second or even a 10-second radio commercial.

But not if you have nothing to say.