Radio advertising. Just the mention of it makes many copywriters cringe and puts everyone else in advertising to sleep. It’s been bludgeoned by not only iPods, satellite radio and Pandora, but also DJ live reads and radio stations that produce them in-house as a freebie when advertisers buy time. The majority of it sucks: it’s formulaic, insulting, and crams way too much information into too little time.
So it’s refreshing to hear Luke Sullivan sing the praises of great radio advertising in his blog post entitled, Get Great At Writing Radio And You’ll Probably Always Have A Job.
As long as there are carpenters, lifeguards, and cars, there’s gonna be radio.
Even if the day comes when the internet gets wired directly into our brains, anybody who can write a great radio spot will probably have a job somewhere in this business.
Luke’s going to be featuring great radio campaigns on his blog, and I’m sure he’ll pick some great ones. As for the “you’ll always have a job” bit, well, I’m not so sure.
Personally, I think Luke’s right about how great radio can be. And I love writing radio spots. I happen to think I’m very good at it, and I’ve won a few awards for my radio spots, although I haven’t written a ton of them. Yet, when I track the page visits to my online portfolio, the radio page nearly always gets overlooked. No recruiters or Creative Directors I know are asking about radio or looking for it in books. Consequently, students and junior writers don’t learn to do it well, and it’s getting devalued in the media mix. It’s a self-perpetuating downward spiral.
Still, it’s a great medium for writers. I did the best radio spots for a client who would nitpick every detail of a 1/4 page newspaper ad, but didn’t care about the radio–so I had free reign to have some fun. It’s also the great leveler of writers: There’s no big-budget month-long TV shoots, no gorgeous layouts, no wacky Flash animation to hide behind. And while the production values of studio engineers and VO talents make a difference, you can walk in to nearly any studio with a limited budget and walk out with a great radio spot.
Radio isn’t dead, yet. But it needs good copywriters who can resuscitate it.