Radio Advertising Terminology

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

If you're going into a new environment you need to learn the language. In this lesson, we'll look at the basics of radio advertising terminology, explaining some of the more important terms for advertisers to understand.

Fitting In

Tom's just taken his first gig in sales, working for the advertising department of WSTDY. Tom comes from the world of car sales and is feeling a little uneasy about what he needs to know to get up-to-speed in radio-speak. His first day on the job he heard terms like, ''live read,'' ''gross impressions'' and ''audience composition,'' and now he's wondering how he will ever understand what all these mean.


Radio advertising terminology helps advertisers to better understand what they want from their radio campaigns.
radio, advertising, terminology


A buddy of his who studied journalism in college has offered to provide Tom with a cheat sheet of important radio advertising terminology to help him ''fake it 'til he makes it'' through his first few weeks on the job. Tom opens the email and finds what looks like a spelling list from fifth grade, with several words he's heard around the office and quite a few he hasn't. Let's peek over Tom's shoulder as he acquaints himself with some critical radio advertising terminology that'll set his new job up for success.

Understanding Radio Language

Every industry has its own ''language,'' of sorts, and the radio industry is certainly no different. Here are some of the key terms:

1. Run of Schedule: Allowing a radio station to run an advertisement at any point along the advertising schedule. This agreement may allow the station to choose when an advertiser's message shows up.

2. Dayparts: A breakdown of the station's schedule, which helps you to select your preferred time slot, such as ''early morning'' or ''afternoon.''

3. Donut: This doesn't refer to the sugary treat, but rather a type of commercial where the content is the same at the beginning and end, with a hole in the center where content is modified.

4. Average (Quarter-Hour) Audience: This number will tell you how many people are listening in a quarter-hour period of time at any particular time period of the day. For example, 10,000 people may be listening between 8 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., followed by 15,000 between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m., and another 10,000 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m. The average of these three would be roughly 11,666 listeners (35,000 divided by three).

5. Station share: The percentage of the entire radio listening audience that a particular station has in a certain time period. If the radio market has 50,000 people and your station accounts for 10,000 of those listeners, the station share will be 20 percent (10,000 listeners divided by 50,000 total people).

6. Net reach: Everyone wants to know how many people their message will reach. Net reach tells advertisers how many people will be exposed to an advertisement during an advertising period.

7. Audience composition: Audience composition is a breakdown of the demographics of a station's listeners. For example, they may be college educated, working full-time, and have children at home.

8. Billboards: Advertisers who ask for a ''billboard'' in radio advertising are requesting their name be mentioned as a sponsor of a radio segment or program.

9. Best Time Available: This is when commercials are slated to be broadcast in the best available time slots.

10. Cluster: A cluster could refer to a set of commercials or a group of radio stations owned by the same company.

11. Coverage Area: If you're trying to reach someone in a particular town, coverage area will tell you what geographic area the station you're advertising with covers.

12. Cume Persons: How many people are listening to the radio station for five consecutive minutes or more during a specific daypart? That's what this figure is for.

13. Effective Reach: This figure tells you the average number of listeners who'll hear a commercial at least three times throughout the duration of an advertising campaign.

14. Cost Per Thousand: For advertisers, costs are generally figured using this method, which explains how much you'll pay for delivery 1,000 gross impressions (the number of times the commercial is heard during a schedule).

15. Fixed Position: A commercial scheduled for a specific time or for placement during a particular radio program.

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