On November 6th, polling places in southern Maine will be open for business. On that day it will be decided who will represent the first district in Congress and who will occupy the Governor’s chair. There will also be a ballot full of other candidates and important matters whose fate the voters will determine.
To win, most of the candidates on the ballot will need to advertise. The most potent place to politic is Portland radio. Before I explain why, here’s a bit of history.
The presidential election on November 2, 1920 was notable for 2 reasons. It was the first time women in American had the right to vote. It was also the first time voters could learn the balloting results in real-time on the radio instead of days later in the newspaper.
Women’s suffrage was monumental. Election results on the radio, on the other hand, were a bit ironic.
The 2 candidates for president that year were Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox. Both men had made their fortune in the newspaper business. The irony is that these men both had reached their pinnacle of power on the same night that America’s dependence on printed news began to shift to electronic media.
By the way, the only radio station who announced the results that night was KDKA in Pittsburgh. Not because other radio stations didn’t find value in announcing the results. It was because on that election day, November 2, 1920, KDKA had become the first radio station…ever.
Flash forward 98 years to September 7, 2018. This is the day the political advertising window opens in Maine. The 60 days from that day to the election is the time the FCC obligates Portland radio and TV stations to provide the lowest radio to bona fide candidates for federal offices and other races.
The best choice a candidate can make, during that window, is to invest in radio advertising. During each week of the political window, according to Nielsen, 548,894 likely voters will tune-in to a Portland radio station. This is more than can be reached by local TV, local newspapers, or local magazines.
Most importantly, Portland radio does superior job of reaching likely voters regardless of party affiliation.
Radio Advertising: What Every Maine Candidate Needs To Know
Once a candidate for elected offices decides to use radio, there are some important things she needs to know:
- Radio stations are only required to sell time to candidates for federal offices such as the presidency or congress. Candidates for state or local offices should check with individual stations in Maine to see if they will be selling time to state and local candidates. To find out if the stations of Portland Radio Group are selling time to local candidates click here.
- If a radio station accepts advertising from one candidate in a particular race, then the station must allow all legally qualified candidates for the same race to advertise as well.
- For a state or local candidate, a radio station may limit the number of commercials she can buy; the times-of-day she may advertise; and the length each commercial can be. But, these same restrictions must apply to all candidates running for the same office.
- During the 45 days prior to a primary election and 60 days prior to a general election, a legally-qualified state or local candidate is entitled to pay the lowest-unit-rate for the class of time she is purchasing. Radio stations are required to furnish these rates and a description of the different classes-of-time upon request.
- Once a candidate decides to buy time from a radio station, she will be required to complete a disclosure form that the radio station will provide. This form will ask for detailed campaign information including party affiliation and the name of the treasurer of the candidate’s authorized committee.
- The candidate must pay for all advertising in advance.
- Every commercial must make clear who has paid for it. This must be done in strict compliance with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. Here are acceptable ways to do this
- If the commercial is paid for directly by the candidate or the candidates election committee: “Paid for and authorized by Mary Jones” or “Paid for and authorized by the Committee to elect Mary Jones”
- If the commercial is paid for by a candidate’s agent: “Authorized by the candidate and paid for by Bill Smith, treasurer” or “Authorized by the candidate and paid for by Bob Brown, Chairman of the committee to elect Mary Jones”
Finally, radio stations are not required to produce commercials for candidates. Like all the other rules, however, if a station produces a commercial for one candidate in a race, then the station must produce commercials for all candidates in that race.