Imagine that your program is a product, and your listeners and clients are buyers. All stations are competitors with the same product-program. You are literally fighting for market share. The larger audience you get, the bigger is the market share. Easy as that.

First of all, lets make some things clear. In smaller markets, when we speak of FM radio, it is hard to measure real radio ratings. There are very few big radio markets like UK, US, Germany,… All methods have their own advantages and disadvantages. But almost every measurement and its analysis prove that station with greater marketing presence has higher ratings than its competitors. Notable variations from one to another research are the result of improper product treatment. I will try to explain that in this article.

Total radio audience in Serbia

The biggest number of radio listeners (in Serbia, this is smaller audience by percents than average in EU, about 50% of total population, considering TV which has almost same audience share as whole world – about 90%), doesn’t come from CORE listeners. Most of radio listeners are CROSS TUNERS (in Serbia, more than 85% of total radio audience). Your ratings depend on those cross tuners. I like to call them consumers (and CORE listeners are loyal consumers). Higher ratings mean big revenue, and the budget for radio advertising is smaller than it should be. In Serbia especially. Here are the numbers for Serbia: radio advertising expenditure in 2016 was slightly above 7 million EUR, and TV is ad 95 million EUR. When I say small, just consider the radio advertising expenditure in Germany: above 808 million EUR. Source: Nielsen Audience Measurement.

7 million EUR for radio – 4%
95 million EUR for TV – 55%

Circles: radio and TV total population reach in Serbia.

Bars: million EUR spent in radio and TV advertising in Serbia. The whole advertising budget is about 174 million EUR.

Everybody loses their listeners (consumers).

All stations lose theis listeners on daily basis. But all of them also get some new. Those variations are made by cross tuners. Somebody has listened to the station A, than switched to the station B, and if he didn’t like that station in first not-more-than 10 seconds, he switched to the station C, etc. In some moment, he will surely come back to the station A. But if he doesn’t like A again, the circle repeats on and on. So, the station which gets all cross tuners will win the game? Correct. Now you know everything, feel free to close this page. But, how to get cross tuners?

How can your station grow?

Let me be honest, it is very, very hard to tell. No one can guarantee that he has the formula for growth. But it is not mission impossible. Your station can grow. It is way much easier if you have huge marketing budget. But also, it can grow with small budget. There are many factors that are important for growth. If this was easy as that, every manager would hire one great PD, one great consultant, and growth would be instant, the revenue would be satisfying and all competitors would be defeated, right?  Those two positions (PD and consultant) are vital, but far away from enough. The PD must be great person with a vision, and the consultant is important because of second opinion, it is always great to have one. But neither one of them has a magic wand. It is hard to find and recruit good radio people. Much harder is to change existing (in-the-house) habits (and radio is changing everyday). The hardest thing is to keep the best people. It is like football. I like to compare radio and football (soccer), you can read here my few points of view on radio.

Lets think of radio as it was a cookie. If we consider OREO as world’s most famous cookie, what do you think, which population is bigger: the one which buys and consumes only OREO (core listeners), or the one which buys and consumes OREO and some other cookies (cross tuners)? Yes. The second one. And that population makes Mondelez owners very, very rich people. And there are many other cookies in every country. But, OREO is THE OREO. What makes OREO so big?

Radio is a product.

In the first place, because OREO is awesome cookie! We can agree that the product is simply amazing in almost every aspect. But in the second place, because of their marketing activities. The brand recognition is superb. OREO has great placement in any store. It is in front of your eyes. And it is growing. There are different packages, mini OREO, golden OREO, lunchbox OREO, ice cream… but the original cookieis, and  will be best selling cookie. Does this remind you of your station? You had a program. Now you have a podcast, a Facebook page, Instagram profile, Twitter, maybe your very own hashtag,…YouTube channel, digital channels, etc. Your station is a brand. And your core product (program) must not be forgotten. Lets get back to OREO. How many times do you buy an OREO? Probably not more than 6-10 times per year. Even less, if you are an average cookie buyer. Because you buy other cookies as well. You are a cross cookier. And the biggest part of world’s population is just like you are. Cross tuner. Cross cookier. And now, some great news: the average cross tuner will play your station more than 20 times per month. Again, lets get back to OREO. All cookie producers are fighting for cross cookiers. For one average consumer. Their marketing activities are for reminding that OREO exists. Just to be there in your mind. To retain your memory that OREO is great cookie. And to make you feel good about OREO. Because you will buy OREO some day. But, no one knows (even you don’t) when that day will come. Creative campaigns have only one task – to provoke your emotions in order to remember the brand called OREO. Some day, our cross cookier will taste some other non-OREO cookie.

What will make him to buy that other cookie again? Maybe third time? Fourth? In the first place, that cookie must be on par with OREO, or even better. He must like that new cookie. It must be great product in great packaging (music/content/imaging/ads). And company that produces that non-OREO cookies must remind him that it exists (marketing activities/promotions). After that, word of mouth cannot be stopped. The growth will be guaranteed. Now we can get back to radio.

Back to radio


Radio is serious business worldwide. There is no way to tell which activities are more important: program, marketing, sales. So, how can your station grow? Over night? No way. Forget it. In the first place, the product (music, program, content, commercials, imaging) must be great! Every second, 24/7. It must be distinctive. Rememberable. Emotional. Powerful. Especially if you are small/new station.

You don’t know when cross tuner will tune into your progam, see your online content, or meet your employees. You must have short and long term plan (program/marketing-promotions/sales). You must be present all the time, everywhere. Whenever and wherever you can. And it has to be remembered. Advanced mind techniques in radio could help.

The listener and client must give you an answer to the simple question: “Why should I listen to your station(why should I advertise here), not your competitors’?” Your task is to teach them to answer that question.

Today, it is more important to be distinctive station than to be different. Everybody plays music. Everybody tests music. All stations have DJs who like to talk. All of them tend to be entertaining. You are all the same. I do not underestimate the importance of being different, but it is very, very hard to be different. I only say that importance of distinctiveness is underestimated especially in radio industry.

In the end, try to answer to these questions:

  • How is your station distinctive?
  • What makes your station sto special?

If you have answered in two seconds, you are in great starting position. And you can make this very (low cost) small research to see if you are doing well (and to prove that I am right): ask drivers which station is playing in their cars at the moment and don’t allow them to check RDS/multimedia screen before they answer. If they know which station is playing, that station is great product! If that station is yours, you are either radio no.1 or you can be no.1. If they don’t know, we have a problem…

Radio is still (in most cases) far away from being perfect. There is still a lot of garbage on air. Unnecessary content must be removed.

Radio is a product, whether you agree with me or not, in a cruel world of many competitors. The choice for cross tuners will be only wider. The market share and growth of one station will depend on many factors. If you need some additional analysis or you want estimation of your station, please feel free to contact me.

In the end, one more great news for all radio people:


And it will never be. Mp3 didn’t kill it. Spotify/Deezer didn’t kill it. Music on demand didn’t kill it. Podcasts didn’t kill it. And the way we consume radio will also be the same forever. And that is why his majesty, the radio, is so unique. As long as Apple runs one global station, or Google, or Amazon, or if any other global big player starts its own station, there is no worry for your local station. All until they become local. If they become local, start to think about growing apples.