Radio Scheduling

How do you plan to use radio? 

Short Term – Special Events and Sales? or

Long-Term - Make your business a household name?

Special Events

To advertise a special event on radio, (like a concert) you should schedule an ad to air just before the event begins, then move backward in time, scheduling one spot per hour until you have run out of ad budget. Generally, a special event schedule should be at least thirteen spots per day, 6am – 7pm,* for at least five days prior to the event. *If you have the available budget, add a spot an hour during the evening and overnight hours for a total of 24 spots per day per station.

Sixty-five spots should be considered an absolute minimum schedule on each of the stations you plan to use.  

(If you can persuade a station’s General Manager to let you air two spots per hour, then schedule two spots per hour. The goal is to increase the ratio of ad repetition to listener sleep.)


The same applies for a sale, only you start the first ad a few hours before the end of the sale.

Example, you are having a three-day sale starting on Friday morning, ending Sunday afternoon at 5pm. Your first ad should run about 2pm or 3pm on Sunday afternoon. Then work back an ad an hour between 6am – 7pm for at least sixty-five spots per station or until your budget runs out.

Always remember, sleep is the great eraser of electrical memory. As the mind is purged each night, the memories that are the most quickly and completely erased are those that are no longer relevant. No ad with a deadline is relevant after the deadline has passed.

Long-Term – To Make Your Business Name a Household Word

The real power of radio, however, is long-term memory, or “top of mind awareness.” Smart advertisers are those who set out to win the customer’s heart long before she needs their product. Their only goal is to be the company she thinks of first and feels the best about whenever her need arises. Smart advertisers make no attempt to predict the moment of the customer’s need but they buy enough repetition to ensure their company will immediately spring to mind whenever such need arises.

To become a household word, you must buy at least twenty-one radio ads per week (plus or minus two ads), per station, 6am to 7pm, fifty-two weeks per year, on as many stations as you can afford. Plan to endure minimal results during the first eight to fourteen weeks of your schedule. This is know as the “chickening-out period,” when you will probably spend a lot more on radio advertising than you will see in results.

Establishing Echoic Retention:

Variables are

  1. Power of the message (emotional voltage)
  2. Repetition (frequency) 
  3. Consistency

When you have a commitment to a 52-week consistency and an average message, a 3 frequency can be established with nearly two-thirds of the weekly cume on most radio stations with 21 ads per week (plus or minus two ads), 6am -7pm.

Across Australia, commercial radio is consumed regularly by about 76 percent of the adult population of any town.

As a rough rule of thumb, if you have a big enough ad budget to buy all the radio stations in your market, with a 3 frequency or approximately 21 ads per week, 6am to 7pm, you will reach just on 50 percent of the population of your market.

Critical Equation: The ratio of ad repetition to listeners sleep.

Assuming an average message, the individual listener needs to hear the identical ad 3 times within each 7 night’s sleep.

Sleep erases advertising.

Variables: The formula assumes that the message is of average impact and that the majority of the audience is not currently in the market for the product. Other variables are the number of years of repetition and the strength of the competitors.

Change your ad when the listener has been exposed to the identical information 12-20 times.

Horizontal Scheduling

When faced with too large a station and too small a budget, consider buying a “station within the station.” Example: Schedule 21 spots per week, fifty-two weeks per year, between the hours of 7pm and midnight, and you will typically reach less than half the station’s weekly audience, but you will have good repetition with the segment you’re reaching. The schedule will also be dramatically less expensive than a comparable daytime schedule.

Vertical Scheduling

Another successful scheduling technique is to buy a “vertical” schedule on Sundays, airing one spot per hour for at least 13 consecutive hours, fifty-two weeks a year. Though radio listenership is somewhat lower on Sundays than weekdays, rates sometimes can be bought at a less expensive rate. Like the 7pm to midnight schedule discussed above, the vertical Sunday schedule gives you a “station within a station” and allows for solid repetition with at least a certain percentage of the station’s total audience. (Our firm has often bought late nights and Sundays only.)        

Word of mouth advertising is created when people talk about things that have impressed them deeply – whether positive or negative. Are you impressing the public with ads that have impact and meaning? Are you impressing your customers with the world inside your door?

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