Next Monday is radio’s 95th birthday. On November 2, 1920, radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh, owned by Westinghouse Electric, fired up its 100 watt transmitter to broadcast the election results of that year’s presidential election. Five years later the first Portland radio station, WCSH, took to the air broadcasting from studios at the Congress Square Hotel (hence, the call letters C-S-H). Maine small business owners have been celebrating ever since as radio has proven to be a powerful medium for marketing their products and services to current and prospective customers.
The invention of the radio commercial came at 5pm August 28, 1922. The Queensboro Corporation, a New York City based real-estate company, bought 10 minutes of time on radio station WEAF for $50 to advertise an apartment complex in Jackson Heights. “Friend, you owe it to yourself and your family.” the commercial began, “to leave the congested city and enjoy what nature intended you to enjoy. Visit our new apartment homes in Hawthorne Court, Jackson Heights, where you may enjoy community life in a friendly environment.”
Ninety-three years later after that first real estate ad, Maine real estate agent Cathy Manchester of Keller-Williams credits radio with expanding her business. Prior to adding Portland radio stations to her marketing mix, her team of agents was selling a respectable 100 homes per year. But, she wanted to take her business to the next level.
To achieve her goal she consulted with high-volume agents across the country who were selling 200-500 houses per year. According to Cathy, “One of the things I found that was consistent with them is they were all using radio.” As a result of her research, Cathy added radio as a primary component of her marketing. Over the course of her first year using radio, Cathy’s sales have doubled.
Although the technology of radio broadcasting is not vastly different than it was when KDKA went on the air, radio still remains the dominate medium in America. A recent study by Nielsen reveals that the audience for traditional AM/FM radio is larger than the reach of TV, smartphones, and computers.
In 1922, Queensboro Corporation discovered the power of radio advertising. Ninety three years later, advertising on AM/FM radio still delvers what AdAge magazine calls, “eye-popping return on investment.” Several recent studies by Nielsen demonstrates that businesses who advertise on the radio saw up to $23 of increments sales for every $1 spent on commercials. To learn more about these studies, we suggest the following articles:
- For Maine Small Business Owners The News Keeps Getting Better
- Maine Small Business Owners Listen Up: Radio Produces 17 Times ROI
- Stunner For Maine Small Business: Radio Delivers 14 Time ROI
This abundance of evidence of radio’s continued dominance led to an article in Forbes magazine a few weeks ago by Doug Schoen entitled, “Radio: The All-But-Forgotten Medium With The Biggest Reach.” In the article Schoen begins, “You wouldn’t know it from all the media coverage focused on streaming video and streaming music, but recent Nielsen data shows radio actually has the most reach among American media consumers. 93% of adults listen to the radio each week as compared to 87% who watch TV, a substantive difference.”
Schoen’s article concludes with this sage advice which can be taken to the bank by Maine small business owners, “The implications of results like these are profound for the communications and advertising industries and as a marketing professional with over 35 years of experience, I found this data nothing short of fascinating. It’s quite clear that we should all be paying more attention to radio, its reach and potential to help our businesses. It’s doing the job with expert efficiency.”
Happy birthday. Radio.
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