Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is that the same radio show on two stations?

This past weekend, I was driving in my car and listening to the radio. While I was in the process of changing stations, I thought I heard the same voices on two different stations. So, I toggled back and forth between the two stations a few times just to be sure - and lo and behold, my ears had not deceived me. I had definitely heard the same two voices: the same radio show host and her caller. There had been a two or three second delay in the conversation on the second station, but the topic of discussion was the same, which confirmed that I was listening to the same show. So, I wondered, why would the same program broadcast live on two different radio stations at the same time in the same market?

The radio program was a cooking show that is heard Saturday and Sunday mornings in Los Angeles, California. The odd thing is that, from 12 noon to 1pm on both days, the show is heard on two unaffiliated stations. In fact, the stations are competitors - they don't broadcast sports, rock, country, jazz, hip hop, easy listening, or religion. They both broadcast breaking news, traffic, weather, sports, and a recap of the news. But on weekends, when there is less interest in traffic jams and approaching weather systems, it would appear that there is an abundance of available listening time.

While I don’t spend much time listening to the radio except when in my car, I wonder what advertisers must think about this sticky situation. If I were an advertiser and allocated a chunk of my advertising budget to support the program on one station, would I be upset if listeners tuned into the show on the other station to avoid listening to my ads? Would I be annoyed if the pricing were less for advertisers on the other station? And lastly, would I be upset if famous radio personalities provided voiceovers to promote competitor products or services during the program on the other station?

Since I have never heard one program broadcast on two competing stations at the same time in the same city, as a marketing expert, this situation really struck me as odd. I can only hope that advertisers are offered an inexpensive ad rate or options to advertise on both stations. Otherwise, they should pull all of their ad dollars from this program - and not confuse listeners.

To quote the motto of a famous department store, "Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish the customer." As one listener of this radio show on two stations and a potential customer of all the advertisers, I was astonished but not in a good way. (P.S. Thanks, Macy's.)

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