Memo To Air Staff: Sell, Sell, Sell!!!

“All air talent need to sell.”

It’s a bold statement, but it’s true. The air staff needs to sell as much as the sales staff. Now, before you go out and grab your station's rate card, put on your finest suit, and hit the road to sell airtime, stop! Your "salesmanship" is right there in your on-air presentation. Sure, you read live copy and sell a product or service for a client, but as air talent, it is also your responsibility to sell the benefits of the station to all listeners and prospective listeners.

Here are six tips on how to sell, sell, sell your station:

1. Identify yourself. While it may seem obvious to most radio people, there are still air talent that tend to forget this important aspect of radio. Tell people what station they are listening to. Most people don’t know! Remember that radio is not the most important part of a listener’s life. It is a part of their lives, but not the most important part. A good rule is to identify the station by call letters, frequency or on air slogan and positioning statement (your PD will tell you which one to use) as soon as you open the mic out of a song set or on a talkover. It should be the first thing out of your mouth, and without forcing it, make it the last thing you say, too.

2. Let people know what type of brand you offer. If you have identified the music you play with a word or phrase that you use in your name (like; Lite Rock, Country, Today's Hits, Variety, Mix, Oldies), then emphasize this when you talk about your music. "More Lite Rock for your workday on the way..." or "More of Today's Hits coming up..." Avoid just calling it "music." Every station plays music, you play a certain brand of music. Your listeners are listening to you because of what you play, so sell them on it! And remember that there are always new people tuning in, so you need to sell them on what you're doing also. Remind and reassure listeners that they will get what they are there for!

3. "Say it like you mean it." I often hear new broadcasters simply going through the motions in saying their station's positioning statements. If you are saying "The Best Variety," “The Most Music,” “All The Hits, Not Just Some Of Them,” “Your Official At Work Station” tell your listeners that with feeling! Make them believe it! Say it with passion! Remember you are selling the concept to your listeners, some of whom are listening to your station for the first time.

4. Highlight the benefits of your station. If you claim to be your market's "At Work Station," then identify what it is that you do to earn that title. Do you play the most music, no repeats, the music isn't annoying, etc.? Sell, sell, sell that to your listeners. Basically you want to explain why listeners should be listening to your station. Tell them the benefits they get from listening to you.

5. Cross promote. Sell the features of your station. If you have a specialty show in the evenings which is designed to help people “relax and unwind” from a workday of stress, sell your audience on that during the day. Avoid just mentioning it as a side note on a talkover! Instead of “Love Songs is coming up at 7...”, try “...have you had a tough day at work? Well, we've got a great way for you to just sit back and relax tonight with Love Songs on your radio...”. Don't just tell, sell!

6. "Make It Big!" When your station is doing a promotion, remember to sell it to your listeners. Without going overboard, when you talk about it on the air, make it enticing. Sell it to everyone like it's the biggest promotion you've ever done. Get your listeners excited about it! If the station across town is giving away $1000 and your station is only giving away $100, then it is up to you to sell it as if it is as big as the $1000 giveaway. Be creative and suggest ways of spending that cash prize. Remember, the $100 a listener wins from you is $100 they didn't have before they won. If you are doing a ticket give away promotion and your station only has three pairs to give away, you don't have to let your listeners know that you only have three pairs. Tell them you will be giving away tickets all day! So what if you only have three giveaways in one day? Make it bigger than it is. Don't lie about what you are doing, just embellish it.


The battle between programming and sales has been, and always will be, a part of the radio business at any commercial radio station. So, when someone suggests that air talent needs to sell, there has to be some apprehension. But, it is necessary that air talent work as a team with the programming and promotions staff to sell the benefits of the station to listeners and potential listeners. Following the parameters, concepts and philosophy set by your program director, you are there to sell what your station does and provides to the public.

Often it is said that radio is great at promoting everyone else’s products, but when it comes to promoting itself, radio doesn’t do so well. You have a valuable and free opportunity to sell your station to the public.

How are you doing?