Got Radio?

Regular radios in homes are getting scarcer. They’re getting harder to find in stores. When we asked about purchases of technology devices in NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study Nine back in January of 2017, we saw that about as many people had bought a new radio (not installed in a car) in the prior year as had bought a new landline phone.

Smokey Rivers, now PD at Entercom’s KSWD/Seattle, related a tale from his recent time at Scripps in Tucson. He and the station were at an insurance office for a recruitment event. The client had no sound equipment, so Smokey ran across the street to Walmart to get a boombox, “The 20-something sales associate had no recollection of a portable device that picked up over-the-air radio. She asked if I meant Bluetooth speakers.” An older associate eventually directed Smokey to an obscure aisle where there were a few radios. But it’s not easy to buy a new radio – and there’s not a wide selection if you can find one. All told, having a page on your station’s website with links to purchase decent broadcast radios wouldn’t be a terrible idea.

It’s intuitive that radios are scarcer in the homes of young people, but Carolyn Gilbert recounts her experience from this past Labor Day weekend. “I went to a party at a neighbor’s where the balcony had the primo view of the fireworks. People were scrambling to find a radio [to listen to the synchronized music soundtrack on WEBN]. In this home of people in their 60’s we had plenty of iPhones and a smart speaker, but synchronization to the fireworks depended on live FM audio from WEBN. I had to run upstairs and grab mine.”

We know from our Ratings Prospects Studies that severe weather causes listeners to tune in and/or switch stations. And this hurricane season will again test the resourcefulness of citizens, emergency responders and broadcasters. It used to be standard practice for homeowners to have a battery-powered radio as a communications lifeline in case of a power outage in the wake of a storm. Today, the greater priority for many consumers is having battery backup to keep smartphones charged.

Calamities that bring down or strangle cellphone communication are not very common these days, but images are built by being there when the chips are down. Mike O’Connor, NuVoodoo’s marketing guru, notes that, “We now tie our spoken-word client digital-branding campaigns to probability-based AI driven by severe local weather. Stations positioning themselves as where to turn for closings, road conditions and forecasts when severe weather is predicted, can unleash digital display and video campaigns for storm coverage when it’s most meaningful to core listeners. We love watching the meters jump or seeing the diary comments that result from these efforts.”

The RAB/NAB Radio Show in Orlando is next week! Carolyn, Leigh, Mike & PJ from the NuVoodoo team will be there and would love to talk with you about your questions and your challenges – and we’ll be glad to review any of the data from our recent webinars. Reach out to us at and we’ll set a time to get together.