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What are the benefits of local radio advertising?

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

When I think of local radio, I no longer think of the commercial stations like the old Invicta FM in Kent. So many of those types got gobbled up by Heart and merged with other stations to cover a wider area and now broadcast very little local content.

It's important to note there are still some local commercial stations that haven't disappeared but in my mind, a local radio station is one that's run by the community for the community. The repeated word there gives us a hint - community radio.

An old car stereo playing Martin Whiskin radio

There's a myth that community radio stations are run exclusively by old men in cardigans who wear sandals with socks. Look, there definitely ARE some like that but in my experience, this is where a lot of young people who want to get into radio cut their teeth. They bring fresh ideas and energy to an industry people associate with well, old men in cardigans who wear sandals with socks, but I've already mentioned that.

There's also the thought that community stations don't have many listeners. Again, that will be true in some instances, but I've worked with stations that have figures in their thousands, and all from the local area. When you consider that a lot of them stream on their websites too, audiences can span the whole of the UK and even the world.

Let's dig into why you should consider advertising on community radio.

Local radio advertising costs

It should be fairly obvious that the cost of advertising on a station with figures in the hundreds or thousands will be less than that of a national commercial station. They'll have tens or hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of listeners.

You might negatively be thinking "well, you get what you pay for". But that's not the case here. Let's take an example:

A landscape gardening business based in Canterbury, Kent wants more customers. They could spend thousands on an advertising campaign on a big station that would go out to lots of people. But if the budget is tight, the ad won't get much airing. It's well known that you need to hear an advert 7 or more times before you'll take action to buy a product or service.


They could spend a few hundred quid on a campaign with a local station. First off, it would get played more, tapping into the rule of 7 above. Secondly, community stations are usually run by volunteers, so you know the money will go straight back into running the station. You're doing good for the local area!

Thirdly and probably most importantly, local people will hear the ad. And local people buy from local businesses.

So if you have a business that services the local area, it would be less effective advertising to a wider audience. Makes sense!

Yes, yes, the digital radio revolution means you can target areas but still... COSTS MUCH MORE. Think of community radio as highly targeted without having to do any research to work out the target!

Martin Whiskin voiceover artist listening to the radio

This really is a terrible photoshop job. Awful, just awful.

Local radio listeners

I mentioned in the previous point that locals buy from locals. So it's clear that people who listen to a community station want to be part of exactly that - a community. They're connected to the local area, connected to what the DJ is saying because they talk about local things and they're connected to the ads because they're about businesses they might already have knowledge of.

Community radio stations are in the image of the area they serve because of the people running them - they are you, they are me. It will be easier to make those very real human connections with the local folk!

As I touched on in the intro, you may be surprised by the listening figures for your local stations. I used to do a show with a friend on a community station in Gillingham, Kent. It didn't have many DJs so a lot of the output was automated, playing music from a database at random.

However, at the peak of our show's run, we had nearly 1,000 people listening in the area. Now, it might look like a small number. But imagine standing in a room of people all from your town saying (going back to the previous example), "anybody need a landscape gardener?!" That's a lot of people.

We had the benefit of some local pubs playing our show too which is something we found happens a lot. Pubs, cafes, restaurants often play the local stations because their businesses are also part of that community. Everyone's in it together.

Stand out

If you advertise on a large station, all of the ads will be of a very high production value. Often you'll shut off when the ads come on as they can sometimes blend into one because... well, they all sound great!

On smaller stations, the production values can be lower. Scripts may be written by the businesses themselves, or someone at the station, neither of whom might have any copywriting experience. The ads will end up with copy that either sounds very old school in advertising style or a bit dull.

A DJ or someone else at the station might record the ad in typical DJ fashion, which could be completely the opposite of what your company needs in terms of tone. And it might be put to any old music they can find.

Now, this is not me being negative. On the contrary, I'm saying that if you use the right tools for the job, it will be very easy to stand out amongst the other ads on a community station.

Quick tip if you're going to write the script yourself: don't try and cram as much info and as many words as you can into the ad. Give it some space to breathe maaaaaaaaaaaan.

Of course, in a not too subtle hint, a clear way of standing out is to hire a professional voiceover actor to record it. Cough, cough.

I SAID PROFESSIONAL. Wow, can't get the staff.

Why radio advertising works

With a good script, a good voiceover and good production, your advert will connect with listeners on a deeper, more emotional level. And by that I don't mean boo hoo emotional, I mean that it will get under people's skin, it will make them react, it will make them feel. That could be happy, sad, inspired, hopeful, energised - anything. Effective advertising guides people into action.

How to advertise on the radio

Most community radio stations have websites, usually run by the people from the radio. Again, these people are just like you and me - approachable. So reach out. Many of them will information on the website about how their advertising works both in terms of cost, scheduling and production.

Listen to some examples of commercials


So why not think of community radio advertising as part of your next marketing campaign? It could be an untapped goldmine you've never tried before.

If you do flyers through letterboxes or ads in the local paper, then you're part of the way there. You're already talking to local people. The people you cover this way might not listen to local radio but if they do, it's another one of those 7 times that people need to see or hear about you before taking action.

Become part of the community. YOUR community.


Of course, radio isn't the only way to promote your business. Find out why you should have a video marketing plan.

If you'd like to read more about ways voiceover can benefit your business, read on!


If you'd like to discuss an idea you have for an advert, I'd be happy to have a chat. I know very good copywriters and umm, someone who does voiceover too.


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Martin Whiskin voiceover artist talking into a Rode NT1-a microphone
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