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radio-station-use-of-former-employees-voiceA Loyal Reader Writes:

“Another former radio person and myself are having a discussion about a radio station’s use of our voice after we leave that company. We are both still on commercials that run regularly. She has been gone a year, myself two years. There are no provisions in the employee handbook we were issued about the subject.

“From your experiences do we have any rights to say ‘cease and desist’? Can we invoice them for the voice work or are they totally within their rights to profit of our voices after we leave their employ?”

Dan Replies:

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way.

I’m not a lawyer.

I’m not offering legal advice.

I don’t known nuthin’ ’bout legal stuff.

You got a legal question, ask an attorney.


My experience and limited understanding of the law leads me to believe that if you don’t have a contract saying that when you leave their employ, the radio station must stop airing anything that contains your voice…

…you’re out of luck.

Certainly if when you were hired it was understood that your job included voicing commercials and you didn’t have such a “when I leave, you have to stop using my voice” clause, I believe the spots you recorded would be considered a “work for hire”…

…which would mean it’s the property of the radio station.

The only silver lining in this cloud is the heads up it should give to in-demand radio personalities who sign with a new employer or who sign a new contract with their existing employer:

Add a clause to the contract that says any characters, features, contests or other unique elements that you create for your radio show will remain your intellectual property in the event that, for any reason, you leave the station’s employ.

(To see what happens when it doesn’t occur to the talent to require such a clause, see “David Letterman and Larry ‘Bud’ Mellman.'”)

Returning to  your original question:

While you might have a hard time establishing ownership of spots that you voiced anonymously, in your next contract it probably would be an excellent idea to stipulate that if and when you leave the radio station’s employ, the station must immediately cease airing any spots that identify you by name.

But even that has hairs that can be split. For example, what if the client paid extra to have you identify yourself on that spot?

But to answer your directly: In my non-legal opinion which should not be construed as legal advice, I don’t think you’d be successful trying to stop your previous employer from airing commercials that you voiced as a routine part of your job.


Tips for radio DJs
In my seminars and coaching for radio personalities, I’ve always taught a technique I call “The Inverse Set-Up.”

Simply stated, The Inverse Set-Up consists of making your comment first and then giving the information.

Here’s a Very Basic Example of The Inverse Set-Up

“You’d better go to the front hall closet and dig out your umbrella (the comment)…because there’s an 80% chance of rain tomorrow (the information).”

Imagine two people in a car, with your radio show on. They’re talking, yawning, daydreaming, planning their day….

Your goal is to get at least one of them to lean forward, turn up the volume and say, “Wait, I want to hear this.”

When you begin by saying, “You’d better dig out your raincoat,” common listener reactions will include:

“Wait, I want to hear this. It’s going to rain? Today? Tomorrow? Tonight? I was going to play tennis this afternoon. We’re planning to go on a picnic tomorrow. Johnny’s supposed to ride his bike home after band practice today; will it be raining then?”

Most radio people, however, do the exact opposite.

They give the information and then they comment on it:

“There’s an 80% chance of rain tomorrow…so you’d better go dig out your umbrella.”

Thanks, pal. Once I knew it probably will rain tomorrow, I was able to figure out that I might need an umbrella.

The problem with giving the information first and then making a comment is that once listeners have the information, they make their own mental comments.

And those mental comments are much more precisely targeted for each listener…because each listener knows his/her life better than you do.

I’ve also always preached to jocks:

“Make each feature your own. Everything you do on the radio should in some way reflect your own unique personality.”

That doesn’t mean you don’t follow the station’s format.

The station’s programming doesn’t come to a halt so that you can do this next thing “your way.”

Recently I was pleased to hear Mary Price of 100.3 The Sound (Los Angeles) do a simple record intro that incorporated both of those principles.


The “comment” portion of her Inverse Set-Up wasn’t that she never was a fan of that TV show.

Her comment was “I can’t believe they were able to get those 2 guys to perform this song on that show…”

The “information” was what show, which two guys, and what song.

How Did She “Make It Her Own?”

The next time I hear “Every Breath You Take,” the odds are I’ll think of Robert Downey Jr. and Sting singing that song on the Ally McBeal show.

And I’ll probably think of the radio personality who drew my attention to that fact by first commenting about it and then sharing the details.



radio copywriting critique of Lyft ad First, let’s listen to the radio commercial.


While none of this commercial is particularly good, it begins promisingly enough by establishing the message:

“8 out of 10 drivers prefer driving for Lyft rather than for Uber.”

At least, that’s what I thought at first.

They list a bunch of reasons why it’s better to be a Lyft driver than an Uber driver.

And toward the end of the spot they say, “Experience the difference at Lyft.”

That suggests their goal either is:

to convince Uber drivers to defect to Lyft


To convince people who are thinking of becoming Uber or Lyft drivers to choose Lyft.

Either way, it’s a recruitment spot.

But 26 seconds into the ad, the announcer lists various ways in which you might be able to use extra money.

If you’re already an Uber driver or thinking of becoming one, you don’t need a radio commercial to tell you how that extra money might come in handy. You know exactly how those extra bucks will be used.

Pointing out ways in which the listener could use the extra money they could earn doesn’t promote Lyft; it promotes the idea of becoming a driver for Lyft, Uber, or other similar companies.

It advertises the industry, not an individual company.

It can’t be both.

A radio commercial can’t succeed in accomplishing two distinctly different goals.

So which is it?

I wouldn’t try to guess what their one goal is, because it’s obvious the advertiser doesn’t know what it is, either.

A Closer Look at the Structure of this Radio Commercial Script

Twice the announcer says, “That’s right!”


How does the announcer’s confirming that what he just told you is correct increase the impact of the message?

They give a clear Call to Action: “Apply at LALyft.com.”

Unfortunately, after they give that Call to Action…

They keep talking!

“While you jot that down, here’s another fun fact: Lyft is the only that allows tipping…”

Wait, which do you want me to do? Jot down the URL where I can apply for a job with Lyt, or listen to “another fun fact”?

Radio Copywriting Tip

Don’t give your Call to Action before you’ve fully established the value of your offer.

Finish your list of “Why Lyft is better than Uber” and then tell the interested, targeted consumer what action to take.

radio copywriting tips

“We’re not crooks. Honest.”

First, let’s listen to the radio commercial.

Some Observations About That Radio Ad

1.  When the commercial begins with, “Hi, I’m (Guy You Never Heard of), CEO of (Company You Never Heard of),” it’s already in trouble.

Would the impact of that message been altered in any way if instead of “Mike O’Brien” it had been “Steve O’Reilly” or “Dave O’Malley”?

2.  If a listener remembers anything at all about that spot, most likely it’ll be “BBB.” “BBB,” however, was not the advertiser.

3.  Did you notice how you didn’t know what he was talking about when he first mentioned “BBB”?

That’s because you don’t begin using the acronym (“BBB”) before having established what it represents (presumably, the Better Business Bureau).

4.  Most of the audience will ignore that entire spot. But if they force themselves to listen to it, here’s the message it will communicate to them:

“We’re not crooks. The BBB — uh, that stands for ‘Better Business Bureau’ — gives us a high rating. So if you’ve been worrying that we might be crooks, relax; we’re not! Just ask the BBB, and they’ll tell you we’re not crooks!”

5.  They give two Calls to Action: Go to our website…or go to this other website, so you can read our reviews.

6. This really isn’t relevant to the (lack of) success of this radio commercial, but if you take one of the two Calls to Action and “check out our reviews at BBB.org,” here is what you will see:

One customer review. The anonymous customer reported having a “Positive Experience” with the business. No anecdotal explanation given.

Here’s a Suggestion for Postings.com

In your radio ad, instead of talking endlessly about “BBB” and inviting people to go to BBB’s website, tell the targeted listener what your business can do to help their business find qualified employees.

Yeah, I know that’s a wild, way-out-there idea. It’s that kind of insanely creative thinking that earns me the big bucks as a commercial copywriter.


Please Don’t Let Them Teach Radio Advertising

First, let’s listen to the radio commercial.

Okay, the advertisement has ended. What key points can you recall?

When critiquing spots, usually I go through them and itemize both the good and the bad elements.

But because this one is overwhelmingly nonstop bad, there’s really no point in my presenting you with an itemized list of What They Did Wrong.

It’s easier to offer this complete list of everything they did right:

Their 60-second spot clocked in at exactly 60 seconds. Congratulations, Grand Canyon University!

When I heard this radio commercial, my first thought was, “I hope they don’t offer a degree in Advertising.”

Oops. They do:

Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations with an Emphasis in Advertising Design

They do point out the program has “an Emphasis in Advertising Design.”

They don’t point out that “when it comes to radio advertising, we don’t have a clue.”