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Can you sell it for commercial-free?

I was reading in Inside Radio this morning that Country WSM-FM went commercial-free last weekend in order to get attention and tune-in for its new airstaff, new identity and “much broader playlist.”

History has shown that debuting stations with massive no-commercial sweeps is great for ratings. And then when commercials invariably pile up, the listeners leave through the same door they entered.

Turning this launch strategy into a regular weekend happening is a high-order stunt, a gimmick. Yes, it’s a benefit to the audience – but a patently unsustainable one.

If we teach listeners to reward us only when we remove commercials then we are teaching them that commercials are not a necessary evil but just an evil.

It’s the equivalent of giving away your product for free. It’s an easy, drug-like strategy, with no long-term payoff above and beyond disappointment and disillusionment.

Here’s my belief: If the things you’re trying to promote on your station are good enough to interest the audience, you won’t need to drop your commercials to zero in order to publicize them.

Sell your audience what you want them to buy long-term. Don’t bait-and-switch.

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