Radio Takes a LONG Holiday Weekend

Each Memorial Day weekend downtown Cincinnati is home to a HUGE gathering of people.  It’s our community’s way of saying adios to winter and kicking off a summer filled with festivals, socializing with friends and neighbors, eating and drinking beer.  Lots of beer.


This past weekend “Taste of Cincinnati” celebrated its 36th annual party on the streets of downtown Cincinnati.  This year included longer hours for each of the three days.  This year included over 250 food items to sample.  There were beer trucks every 10 feet.  And the 2014 festival tied 2013 for attracting the largest crowd ever, with sunny skies and perfect temperatures in the low 80’s greeting the hungry hordes.  It’s estimated over 550,000 people walked up and down 5th Street gorging themselves on foods and deserts (like cream puffs) and guzzling pints of beer.

You know what 550,000 people didn’t see?  Not one radio station van.  No radio banners.  No radio sponsorship.  Nothing.  In fact “Taste of Cincinnati” is the second festival I’ve been to this spring and no radio station was seen at the first festival either!

Not too many years ago, radio stations (metaphorically) would crawl on their bellies over broken glass to have a booth, a van, a roll-a-banner, a body sticker, anything to be in front of a crowd like this. “Taste of Cincinnati” had numerous radio stations sponsoring the event back then.

But, not in 2014.

Radio management today is either: (a) very kind to its employees and would prefer to give them all a long weekend so they could rest and enjoy themselves instead of working, (b) very confident of how popular and top-of-the-mind the radio industry is with consumers.  So much so they don’t need to market the station and their personalities don’t need to meet listeners.

Smartphones and social media?  It’s a fad. (By the way, guess who had displays at the event? Smartphones and social media.  But, I digress.)

There’s no need for billboards or TV commercials.  There’s no need for a grass roots pressing of the flesh effort.  It’s as if radio is a secret and there are those that don’t want others to find out about it.

Radio is on “double-secret probation,” when it comes to marketing.

All joking aside, this is what happens when an industry that is…at its core…an advertising medium cuts costs to a point a station doesn’t have people to staff events like this.

Let me put that another way.

This is what happens when an industry that is…at its core…an advertising medium displays to its customers (those who buy commercials) it doesn’t believe in advertising.

But all was not lost this weekend.  Innovation reigned supreme on radio.  I got to hear the same Memorial Day Weekend Top 500 rock songs counted down again for the 41st time.

I thought that was so cool in 1973.

“Freebird!  Skynyrd!  Woooooo!”

  4 comments for “Radio Takes a LONG Holiday Weekend

  1. Art Versnick
    May 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    “Spot-On,” Darryl. …and it’s too bad!

  2. May 27, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Radio thinks it is still the big dog. They have become room noise. Play the same 6 songs all day. On air talent has none. If we learned anything from Bill Cunningham we learned that “different” sells.

  3. George Corneliussen
    May 28, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Commercial radio in Cincinnati has become the entertainment equivalent of the self-check out lanes at Kroger’s. In other words, human involvement is not a factor for anyone but the customer. There is not a single commercial radio station that feels like it a living, breathing member of the community.

  4. Todd Osborne
    June 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    George, I don’t know about the “not a single commercial station”. (Look at WGRR and lesser WARM98) I agree with Darryl. Promotion is king. Look back at Q102’s push. They went to every school, every event, sponsored haunted houses, had daily contests. Radio had energy. Radio had COMPETITION. Now, radio is like the WKRP episode. Venus looking over a computer. It wasn’t too long ago WLW’s van was everywhere, B-105 was everywhere. Remember the EBN balloon? Where are the billboards? Radio had CREATIVITY. Put a commercial station together today with promotion, creativity (Not Tracy Jones “how much you weigh/are you __(race)__/boner jokes”), good promotion and a good energy level on the station, that station will succeed. Not a single station will try. Oh, and lower the rates and go into the communities to sell spots (remember 60 second spots? maybe even live remotes). Radio is money. Simply money, so to speak. Let one of the legacy AM’ers or FM get out of the CC/Cumulus grip and explore it. Give it a chance.

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