“And you know me, I’ll have another [ad].”

22 Nov

Radio is a very personal medium; it’s just you and the hosts. Your brain makes you believe that you have a personal connection with the speaker, even though you’ve never met. So when a host does a commercial, they’re counting on that connection… and sometimes it falls flat.

I used “Double L” as my perfect example. As previously mentioned, I listen to two or three terrestrial radio shows, only one of which I listen to live. I get that through iHeartRadio, the ClearChannel conglomerate that bought up 18% of US radio stations. However, iHeart is rather clever, and realized that people listening to Sacramento commercials doesn’t do them any good. So a year or two ago, they set up an algorithm that replaced local commercials with commercials in your market area. However, the average listener has tuned out the glossy ads, so hosts are encouraged to do live reads, which can then be recorded for later use.

It’s a brilliant idea and works very well on stations where you’re listening to that host on their show. However, this is where the cleverness fails. iHeart has decided to take those ads and broadcast them to regional listeners. After all, KNIX is the Phoenix country station–you’re in Phoenix! You must listen to KNIX and know these people!

Here’s the problem – there are 23 AM and 39 FM stations in the Phoenix metro area. I don’t speak Spanish, so 10 of them are out, but that still leaves 52 stations I could be listening to. I only listen to Country when I’m in the bar, so sorry, Double L… I don’t know you.

It almost seems like a violation of radio listener social contract. “Check your Corona Beer stash!” Sorry, LL, I don’t drink beer – I’m a liquor drinker. So yep, my stash remains as it always has… ZERO. I’ve also heard Spanish language ads on my podcast because… well, you’re in Phoenix, right? You must speak Spanish!

James T Harris is another example of this. When he says, “You know how much I love grilling…” Jimmy, I hardly know ye! Of course, if I’m hearing his commercials, it tells me that iHeart’s algorithms are getting closer to the mark… at least, you’re in the right genre.

I learned long ago that iHeart charges advertisers different rates. If you want to be heard just on regular radio waves, you get one rate. If you want to be ALSO heard online, they charge you more. Which is why there’s not as many local ads–they have to fill it with “We’ve gone one on one with Bono to ask him [whatever he’s bloviating about now]!” or “Here’s the top Earth, Wind, and Fire songs you’ve thumbed up!” I couldn’t name a single EWF song with a gun to my head. Sure, when they play them, I’d say, “Oh, yeah, I know that one,” but I’m obviously not their demographic for that. iHeart don’t care… they’re just trying to avoid dead air.

Am I the only one who’s bugged by this? Do you recognize the personal nature of radio – or am I fooling myself? Let me know in the comments below!

4 Responses to ““And you know me, I’ll have another [ad].””

  1. spwilcen November 22, 2020 at 10:19 am #

    Ah, society. Where to begin the fix? Can it be fixed? All the personal, the real, the “touch” is gone. Look at facepages, illustrative: no need to be involved. just click, like, report, love ‘ya, praise the lord, and TTYL. Talk? Listen? Sorry, ain’t got time. Vanilla-rize my news, my views, my friends. Getting so your best enemy is your best bud. At least in a scuffle you might make contact. Good write, didn’t clue me symptoms (save the almighty buck) but your complaint, presentation is top-drawer. Thankee. (TTYL)

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