How to Market Your Business on the Radio

Bob Leighton
Last updated by Bob Leighton

Radio is one of the most popular forms of conventional advertising. It can also be one of the most effective. Why? Radio is partially oriented around formats, giving owners a big advantage in targeting audiences vs. other conventional advertising methods like print or television.

Radio Demographics by Station

How to Market Your Business on the Radio

What’s a radio format? It describes the overall content, or genre, broadcasted on a radio station. Today, many radio formats are designed to reach a specific segment or niche of the listening population based on such demographic criteria as age, ethnicity, background, etc. Basically - who generally listens to each format? For example, think of your business in terms of who comprises your team. I'd be willing to bet that of those people, there are a few different preferred radio genres and favorite formats. 

Now, think of who represents your target audience or ideal customer. What personal demographics help define who they are? Again, that data includes age, background, consumer habits. Once you've narrowed it down, take a look at the most popular radio formats and who tunes in. That's where to market your business on the radio.

Top Radio Formats

There are dozens of different formats across the United States, but according to the Radio Advertising Bureau, here are some of the top radio formats:

  • News/talk: This is a very broad category featuring some of the biggest audiences in the nation of informative news and talk programming from a local and national perspective. This category is growing and, in many markets, is divided into more specific formats (All News, All Sports, etc.). This format tends to attract slightly older listeners than the average (45+) and skews slightly toward men but spills into younger and female audiences as well. KNSI, KDLM, KBRF, and KNOX are some of our news/talk stations.
  • Top 40: Also known as Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR), Top 40 refers to the Billboard magazine charts. The charts feature the week’s most popular pop songs, ranked by mainstream top 40 radio airplay detections as measured by Nielsen Music. Top 40 targets audiences 18 to 34 years old. KCLD, Z94-7, and KG 95.3 are some of our Top 40 stations.
  • Country: Country is number one in terms of the number of stations. Its format is broad, covering everything from classic country to today’s hot new country featuring performers considered to be “crossover” artists. As such, you can choose a country station to target adults 18-34 or 25-54 or 45+ depending on the station's music mix. Wild Country 99, 97 KYCK, and KG Country are some of our country radio stations.
  • Adult Contemporary: Geared primarily to women ages 35-44, this format has essentially become the new easy listening station of this generation. This format is perfect for office and work environments also broadening the reach of the key listening demographic. Cities 104.3 is an example of one of our A/C stations.
  • Adult Hits: This format typically plays a mix of music from the 1970s through the 2000s, including some classic hits in rock, pop, and adult contemporary. This format targets adults 25 and older. 99.9 More FM and Wave 104.1 are some of our adult hits stations.
  • Classic Hits: These stations typically play music from the 1960s, 1970s and even some 1980s. Men between the ages of 45 to 54 are the main demographic for this format. Z103.3 and 101.1 The River are examples of our classic hits radio stations.

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In choosing the right radio station (or stations), how do you know which should feature your advertisement? Odds are, your target market is predominantly tuned in to one or two specific stations in your listening area.

But as an advertiser, you’ll want to also consider whom your listener is sharing the radio with. No one usually listens to the radio in a vacuum. Listeners are exposed to radio ads on stations they might not normally select simply through their close relationships – like their spouse, their kids, and their friends.

So don’t get too concerned about “over targeting” your ad. The best route is to speak with a radio branding expert to determine the best course of action for your business.

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