What is Radio?

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What is Radio?

It used to be, our agency’s name was spot on.  THE RADIO AGENCY described who we are and, for the most part, what we do.

But, in the last 15-20 years, the definition of “radio” has expanded to include new audio platforms that we use regularly to promote our clients’ products and services (SiriusXM, Podcasts and Streaming Audio services like Pandora, Spotify, iHeart and Radio.com).

To us, anything that involves “audio” as a means of advertising is “radio.”  To others, we suspect, that’s probably not the case.

To try to confirm our suspicion, I created a survey and shared it with my social media universe.  Many were kind enough to take a minute or two to respond.  Here’s what we found.

My first question was, “When I say, ‘Radio Advertising,’ what does that mean to you?”  Only three of the respondents shared negative comments about radio advertising (“background noise,”  “usually boring, sometimes offensive loud voices” and “when does the song come back on?”).  All other respondents replied by naming “commercials” or “ads” in some shape or form.

Question #2 asked, “When I say, ‘listening to the radio,’ what could you be listening to?”  The results were pretty diverse for this one.

  • 29% listed more than one audio platform such as “AM/FM and SiriusXM,” or “AM/FM, Pandora and Amazon.”
  • 23% said they could be listening to music, interviews, commercials and news, but didn’t specify on which platform.
  • 18% left it at “music.”
  • 16% listed specific radio formats such as Sports, Old School/Hip Hop, News.
  • 6% mentioned “Sirius Radio” or SiriusXM.
  • 6% mentioned a listening device (such as “car radio”).
  • 1% mentioned AM/FM.
  • 1% mentioned podcasts, music and books.

To drill down to the core question, we solicited a simple Yes or No answer to determine if these new audio platforms were thought of as “radio.”

Is SiriusXM radio?            83% Yes/17% No

Is Pandora radio?             46% Yes/54% No

Are Podcasts radio?        50% Yes/50% No

Is AM/FM radio?              99% Yes/1% No

Apparently, radio’s identity has become blurred these days, much like television.  You could follow our same line of questioning and ask: Is Netflix TV?  Are you watching TV if you’re watching CBS Streaming?  What about shows or videos on You Tube?

And these shifting category descriptions extend beyond just media.  When you look up the definition of a “car,” it says a “vehicle moving on wheels.”  Does that include SUV’s and Trucks and Vans?  To some, yes.  To others, no.  Many feel that SUVs and Trucks are considered a version of a car.

And so, since audio entertainment like AM/FM, SiriusXM, Streaming Audio and Podcasts are all sound entertainment platforms on which you can advertise, we call it RADIO.

Our mission, as a “radio only” advertising agency, is to help people understand that media platforms are constantly evolving and, over the course of 25 years in business, we’ve evolved with them.  We consider ourselves lucky to be in such an exciting space that gives us plenty of traditional and digital options when planning and executing a campaign.  Having more options means more opportunities for our clients – and their campaigns – to succeed.  And in that regard, there has never been a better time to advertise on RADIO.


Barbra Tabnick is President of The Radio Agency, a national advertising agency 100% focused on creating and managing sound advertising campaigns through the medium of radio. You can reach her at [email protected].