How to Create Effective Radio Schedules

Bob Leighton
Last updated by Bob Leighton

Effective Radio Schedules

Once you have your radio commercial produced, it's time to decide which stations to run it on and during which dayparts.

You should view your account executive as an expert when it comes to this. Creating and running effective radio schedules is what they do best!

There are several types of radio schedules, each meant to serve a different purpose to effectively advertise your business to the station's listening audience.

Here are a few of the schedule types your account executive might present to you.


Read the nine best local advertising strategies in this ebook.


Also referred to as ROS for short. Car dealers use these schedules the most. In essence, your ads can run any day in any daypart. You don’t request specific dayparts or programs. That part is left up to the station. By not requesting specific dayparts or programs, you’ll get better rates in your ad buy.

Depending on the size of your advertising budget, you might run all day every day on every station. Or, you'll pick the station(s) that best suits your target audience and do an ROS on those stations.


Flights are what you’ll hear from national advertisers like Geico and McDonald’s. Who, by the way, have two of the biggest radio ad budgets in the country! If you’re wondering if radio works, just look at the big boys’ ad budgets.

A flight is a 4-8 week long duration where you air the same spot. Then you switch it up with a new spot for the next 4-8 weeks. Lather, rinse, repeat. This is what we do when we run a branding campaign.

A flight, or branding schedule, is one thought per ad, ran over and over again for several weeks. Each needs to have a consistent tag throughout your series of flights.

The duration of your flight will depend on your budget, the station(s) you’re on and the strength of your message.

Recent trends show shorter flights are becoming more commonplace.


Dominating a day is simply choosing a day of the week and saturating it with your ads all day long. You’ll quickly have people say “I hear you on the radio all the time!” Since listeners don’t keep tally of what days and times they listen, over the course of several weeks, they’ll think you’re on the radio all the time.

This is why Dominate a Day is a powerful way to advertise your business on the radio. It is also a great option if you have a smaller ad budget and want the best bang for your buck.

This is a much better option than spreading your budget thin across several stations and dayparts. Again, your account executive can give you some great advice here.

BRANDING on the radio

Your radio rep is a great resource. They’re highly trained and are very good at what they do. You should rely on them to make your radio campaign a big success. That said, here are some pointers.

A good rule of thumb is to run 18 to 25 ads per week to hit your target frequency. Frequency is the number of times a person hears your message over the course of a week. For radio, a frequency of three is what to shoot for.

The 18 to 25 ads per week number is a range because each station has a different TSL (Time Spent Listening). Longer TSL means fewer ads are required to meet your frequency.

Talk stations tend to have a longer TSL, so fewer ads are needed to reach your frequency. Top 40 stations, on the other hand, tend to have a shorter TSL. Thus, more ads are required.

Your radio rep will know what the optimal number per week is for their stations.

Overwhelmed? Confused? Don’t fret. We have a team of experts ready to field any question you may have about radio advertising schedules.

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