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radio and online ad sales Over the past few years some radio groups have begun sending a member of their “digital staff” along with account executives on sales calls.

That way, the digital team can add its “expertise” in designing a successful ad campaign for the client.

I believe they also throw around the word “synergy” a lot.

A Loyal Reader forwarded to me these notes that accompanied a copy order from a radio station account exec to the station’s commercial producer…

…complete with the lack of punctuation, spacing between words, etc.

The campaign will be driving people to the website but the url isn’t developed yet. (Radio Company) is building the website. Copy points: (URL — don’t have one yet, but it will go here)

(Client) has two goals so two spots is fine remodeling high end homes only (Luxury remodeling)kitchens, baths, whole home luxury garden homes-targeting people who want to downsize from their large homes to a 2500-3000 sqr foot garden home but not miss out on the luxurious items luxury living the goal is to drive leads to the website.

The account exec apparently believes:

1) There’s enough information there from which to build a successful radio commercial campaign.

2) There’s no need to give listeners a reason to visit the not-yet-built website. Once they have a URL, “leads” magically will go to there.

To get listeners to go to an advertiser’s website, it should be either to get something or to do something.

Get Something: “Download Your Free Copy of 33 Ways to Downsize Your Home without Sacrificing the Luxury You Deserve.”

Do Something: “Take our 3-minute Perfect Home for Me diagnostic quiz for immediate, personalized recommendations for downsizing your home without sacrificing the luxury you deserve.’

“Go to our website so you can be a lead” doesn’t qualify as a worthwhile Call to Action.



French radio station
Recently I came across my trip notes from a “morning show tune-up” I conducted visit several years ago for the French radio station, Vibration.

This was the second talent coaching visit arranged by my friend and Radio Big Shot, Bruno Witek.

Unlike the reporting of my international travel travails in my OH! newsletters, it appears I wrote this as an email to small group of friends.

Greetings from a hotel room in Orleans, France.

You’ve got to love a country whose TV dramas feature full frontal nudity….on afternoon programming.

CNN news anchorsCNN International’s news anchors — all of whom are British — have a unique, uniform way of segueing from one story to the next.

Without exception, they preface each story with, “Well….”

“Well, the violence continues in Iraq today….”

“Well, the election in Germany has proven to be….”

The French dub everything into French. But the other night I discovered an important lesson:

When you watch a Jackie Chan film that has been dubbed into a language you don’t understand, your plot comprehension doesn’t suffer in the slightest. Viva la Jackie Chan!

C?a va se savoir French TV

At first I thought one of the stations was broadcasting The Jerry Springer Show, which I’ve never actually watched but which I’ve glimpsed occasionally.

“Gee,” I thought, “Jerry Springer sure has gotten old!”

But then I realized: It’s not Jerry Springer. It’s a French guy.

The name of the show is Ça va se savoir!, which I’m guessing must mean something. At 12 Euro per minute, I can’t afford to go online and find a translation.

But except for the host, the title, and the language, it’s an exact duplicate of The Jerry Springer Show:

Same set, same live entrance opening sequence, even the same two black-shirted security guys flanking the guest chairs onstage.

As the French would say, “Incredible!” (That’s French for “incredible!”)

Renegade tv show

Okay, so here’s the big news:

As I write this, on the TV screen is an American made, French dubbed series called The Renegade, created by Stephen J. Cannell and starring Lorenzo Lamas.

He has long hair, needs a shave, and travels around from town to lonely town on his Big Manly Motorcycle.

From the opening montage (theme music by Mike Post), it appears he’s “wanted” by The Law — undoubtedly for a crime he didn’t commit.

Every female (barely) wears a bikini. (If this were produced by the French, we wouldn’t have that annoyance.)

As near as I can tell (not understanding French), the bad guys in this episode are kidnapping bikini-clad women.

I’m not sure why; maybe they’re collecting them. A complete set probably could command a good price on eBay.

The fight scenes are incredibly clumsy — apparently a nod toward Equal Opportunity, as even the most arthritic actors could handle the choreographed moves:

“Okay, I’m going to throw a punch with my right hand now. I’m starting to move my hand. See it? Here it comes now; get ready to duck….”

I’m guessing they had trouble getting insurance for this show, because whenever the loser of the fight throws a punch at Lorenzo, the punch travels an arc approximately 2 feet above Lorenzo’s head.

The money they spend on bikinis is balanced with minimal location expenses:

When Lorenzo climbs onto his Big Manly Motorcycle against a backdrop of vast Arizona countryside (in this episode he wandered to a lonely town in Arizona, as noted by a helpful highway sign), I’m positive I can see several spots of paint dripping on the mural on the other side of the fence that lines the highway.

Oooh! As I’m writing this, Lorenzo just snuck up behind a bad guy and rendered him unconscious with a karate chop to the back of the neck! 77 Sunset Strip lives!

And now for the best part:

The Renegade is accompanied on his lonely, bikini-filled journeys by his faithful, humorous, tough-but-not-as-tough-as-The-Rebel American Indian friend…who follows The Rebel’s Big Manly Motorcycle…

…in a Jeep.

I swear I’m not making any of this up.



When I teach radio personalities and programmers what I call Contextual Programming, I stress the importance of “making each radio feature your own.”

Sometimes just creating a new name to an everyday program element can have a big impact.

The simplest, most direct example was when Rick Dees would share the day’s Hollywood gossip.

But he didn’t say, “Now it’s time to find out all the latest juicy scandals from Hollywood.”

He said, “And now it’s time for Dees Sleaze.”

All the other jocks were talking about Hollywood gossip; only Dees was presenting “Dees Sleaze.”

You’ve heard radio shows that ask sports trivia questions, right?

What do those shows call those sports trivia segments?

Let me guess: “Our sports trivia question for today…”

Or maybe, “Our sports trivia challenge….”

Of all the radio hosts in the world, only Gary Burbank said, “It’s time to play… Sports or Consequences!”

Lots of jocks presenting sports trivia questions.

Only one radio personality in the world playing “Sports or Consequences.”

The other day a movie being broadcast by IFC (Independent Film Channel) was prefaced with their own version of a “viewer caution.”

original radio show features

See how easy it is to stand out from the herd just by doing everyday things differently?


Radio Commercial Critique for Sprinkler Systems

radio copywriting critique

A Radio Advertising Advantage member asked me to critique this commercial.

I’m sharing this sprinkler radio ad with his permission, with the sponsor name and phone number changed.

In a perfect world, it rains when you need it.

In the REAL world, you push a button and make

it rain with your state of the art sprinkler

system from Sprinkler World! Not only can you

turn on the rain, but you can save water with

new water efficient nozzles. Freeze and rain

sensors will automatically shut off the system

when icy and when it rains — saving your money

and water! For a free quote call 555-55-5555.

OR book on Facebook and save five-percent!

Sprinkler World. Things just got greener.

Dan’s Comments

Good opening line.


“state of the art sprinkler system”

That’s pretty generic and unconvincing.

Does the sprinkler system have a name?

If it’s XYZ Company’s Digital Autoflow sprinkler system (I’m just making that up), then you could say, “…make it rain with your own Digital Autoflow sprinkler system.”

Otherwise, what it says to me is, “If you want to be able to water your lawn, you should get a sprinkler system.”


“Freeze and rain sensors will automatically shut off the system when icy and when it rains — saving your money and water!”

Those points have genuine value, but I don’t think what stops someone who needs a sprinkler from getting a sprinkler system is the fear of wasting money and water when it’s icy or raining.

You need to identify:

1) What makes the targeted consumer want to buy a sprinkler system


2) What is stopping that person from buying one already.


This spot starts strong but then runs out of steam after “…you push a button a make it rain.”

You have two Calls to Action, and they’re contradictory.

One says to call for a free quote.

The other says to save 5% by booking on Facebook.

As a listener, “booking on Facebook” = buying.

So one Call to Action is to get a free quote, while the other is to buy on Facebook and save some money.


Pretty good tag line.

This would be better:

“Things just got greener…with Sprinkler World.”

That way, the tag line ties the benefit to the advertiser’s name.


write radio ads effecctivelyThe other day I heard something rare in a radio commercial:

A real person, really talking.

First, the commercial:

The Accomplishment

Sure, the woman (“Mimi”) was coached.

Sure, her audio was heavily edited.

But that spot achieves something few radio advertisements accomplish: Believability + Impact.

Sure, you can record a real person talking about her real experience with the product or service and the audience will recognize it’s “real.”

Your radio station already is airing commercials with “real people,” with an announcer constantly interrupting the story those people are trying to tell.*

(*Yes, we know the producer had to record 30 minutes with each of those people in an effort to find enough bits and pieces to use.)

Although listeners are willing to believe those people are real, they don’t care.

The dialogue isn’t conversational and it doesn’t tell a story.

That’s believability without impact.

How We Know That’s a Real Person Speaking Her Own Words

1) Lines a copywriter is extremely unlikely to have created:

“I’m a pain; I’m a little sister.”

“We always had to stop for cigarettes.”
(Brother:) “Yeah, exactly, it’s true.”


2) Unlike voice actors who are conscious of the need to sound like a real person engaged in a real conversation, “Mimi” wasn’t trying.

She simply talked.

For example…

her perfect delivery of “Get up, first thing, smoke a cigarette. Before lunch, after lunch, another one on the way home, before dinner, after dinner…”


“I remember recently you asking me, like, ‘Did you want to smoke before we go in?’ and I was like, ‘No, I don’t need to.'”

I’m good at writing dialogue.

I couldn’t have written that line.


3) No attempt at “banter.”

The people converse effortlessly, with no conscious attempt to show the audience their familiar, comfortable relationship.


4) A convincing laugh that’s barely noticeable.

“Now that I’m talking about it” — the brother briefly laughs as she continues “— I’m kinda feeling like I’ve lost about 4 hours of every day.”

That laugh shows us it’s real.

It’s difficult to imagine

– a copywriter including “(brother chuckles)” at that spot

– the commercial’s director telling an actor, “Make that cough much smaller, almost invisible; it’s an involuntary unconscious reaction to what your sister is saying.”

– a voice actor playing that moment with such 100% realism.


5) No copywriter would’ve included the brother’s commenting, “I didn’t realize it was that much.”

If that line appeared in an earlier draft, a good copywriter would’ve deleted it because it doesn’t directly move the sales story.

After all, the test I teach advertising copywriters is, “If you delete that line, will it lessen the impact of the sales message? If not, get rid of that line.”

The only reason “I didn’t realize it was that much” is there is that’s what the brother spontaneously said.

Does it strengthen the impact of the sales message?

No. At least, not directly.

But it strengthens the believability of the sales story, which indirectly does strengthen the spot’s impact.


6) No announcer interrupting the story.

The Only Stumbles

The woman stumbles when she segues into the solution she discovered.

She’s at ease when talking about her smoking habit but unsure when introducing the product name.

A Metaphor to Illuminate the Above Sentence

She’s driving down a familiar highway, devoting little conscious thought to the mechanics of making her car do what she wants it to do.

Finally, however, it’s time for her find the exit ramp.

She tightens up.

Her eyes dot back and forth, checking for traffic in parallel lanes, checking her speedometer, checking the odometer.

Her ease has been replaced by a tense alertness.

We hear that tenseness when she refers to the product:

“So I started looking in’an Juul came up” — between “looking” and “Juul” is an awkward, “best we can do” edit.

Probably she actually said something like, “So I started looking into e-cigarettes and Juul came up.”

But Juul doesn’t want to be lumped within the “e-cigarette” category; hence, the edit.

Her directions probably were:

“Just tell us in your own words. How did smoking cigarettes affect your daily life, and how were you able to stop smoking them? When you get to ‘Juul,’ don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t become an announcer. Say the name of the product the way you might tell a friend, ‘I’ve heard that fish oil is supposed to be good for the heart and I figured what the heck…’”

Another “oops” clue can be heard here:

“I decided I needed to find (sloppy edit) an alternative.”

Producer’s Note:

“Sloppy Edit” doesn’t mean “bad edit.”

It means “the best that could be done with the audio the producer was given.”

Few listeners will notice that edit that is so glaring to us radio pros.

It doesn’t hurt the effectiveness of the spot. But you and I heard it, right?

Bonus Kudos

They didn’t speed up the required disclaimer.

That disclaimer is pretty damning, actually:

“Warning — this product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”

If they had tried to sneak it in with a speeded up, barely comprehensible delivery, it would have drawn the listener’s attention to the disclaimer:

“What are they trying to sneak past us? What don’t they want us to hear?”

I Am Not Endorsing the Product.

It appears that, compared to cigarettes, Juul is alternative nicotine delivery system.

It’s not a “break the nicotine habit” device.

Like cigarettes, it enables users to inhale carcinogenic fumes.

It’s similar to a product that allows heroin users to to get their fixes without any of those messy needles.

In fact, if Juul is looking for a slogan I’ve got one for them:

“All the harmful effects of cigarettes without the social inconvenience.”

But it's an unusually good radio commercial.