John Evington – Commercials, Friend or Foe

Some really nice thoughts on ad breaks on radio stations from John Evington here.

I worked under John many many years ago (about 23 years ago) in Stoke on Trent UK. He knows his stuff! I’ll remind him sometime of the day he voiced an ad for me… promoting the Bolshoi Ballet…. and mentioning some of those Russian dancers by name.

The dapper John Evington


In Praise of The Radio Station Copywriter

Recently I had a mail from a former colleague from way back in the day. He is high up in sales for a radio group. I asked him who did his creative and he told me they use external production houses…. “It’s MUCH cheaper” he told me.

Mmmm. Lets look at that. A few years ago I was working as a freelancer at a radio station and we went out to see a client. We took a brief. Nothing different to what you may have to do with an external production house. The sales person kind of expected that the client would buy one ad to run on her station for a month. But we took more briefs, wrote around a dozen ads, and presented them to the client. We developed the relationship with that client, honed and worked on the creative and then they dropped the bombshell. They loved them so much wanted to run all the ads, in all the areas where they were launching their product. Suddenly an order that was maybe ten thousand pounds because hundreds of thousands. Creative and Sales working together can get clients to spend that would not have done so, it increases spend… it MORE than justifies having a Creative on the team…. if IF you do it right. IF you don’t see a writer as just a factory to make ads. In 2 visits I justified the salary of a Creative for the next 20 years. One Creative Consultant I know went into a radio station and worked out that every year the Creative Team added around a million pounds to the station that they would not have written without the onsite writers. I’m not sure HOW he worked it out, but I can believe it.

The UKRD Group has caught on to this and have employed Mike Bersin, putting site writers into their radio stations. Writers who can write multiple ad campaigns, who can present creative with confidence, and who have a wealth or radio experience. There are some big names and people who I hugely respect working at some UKRD stations now. I wish them well with it. They deserve to do big things.

As for production houses, there’s still a need for them. Healthy competition is a good thing. Agencies have choice, clients have choice and smaller stations that cant afford a production facility have an option. But if you want to see growth in sales, get a writer!

How many writers? Good question. Wouldn’t it be interesting if every sales person had a dedicated creative? I can only dream.

For more on Mike Bersin and his methods for increased Radio Station revenues, read these books!

The Creative Led Sell: The Definitive Guide to the Easiest and Most Effective Way to Sell Radio Advertising
Taking the Brief: A Simple Guide to Getting Great Briefs for Ads That Will Make the Client Money
Make More Money: A Business Users Guide to Creating Radio Ads That Increase Sales, Turnover and Profit.

L to R Simon Rushton, Emily Morris, Mike Bersin and Graham Elliott.

L to R Simon Rushton, Emily Morris, Mike Bersin and Graham Elliott.


Dan O’Day is a great, reasoned, sensible thinker on radio advertising. He developed the Certified Professional Commercial Copywriter course for the RAB in the USA (I was the first person to qualify outside of Texas!!)

Here are some of his wise words… Click here.

Dan O’Day

Hatred of the Hyphen

I hate the hyphen. Well, I hate it when it comes to websites in radio ads. It seems like advertisers don’t think through when they’re buying their websites how it would be communicated. Try reading out And that’s a fairly simple one!

Also there’s the companies that like word number puns in their we addresses. sounds really snappy… but the listener may get confused. Way to get ahead? Way 2 get ahead? Weight to get ahead? Ok maybe the last one is a bit extreme.

If you do business through your website then there is an answer. Come up with an easy to remember, radio friendly web address for your company. You can buy a web address quite cheaply and then just forward the surfer to your website (avoiding those terrible flash animated landing pages)

Many years ago I had a client who was a pub/restaurant and their web address was something like… Terrible! But their offer was a downloadable voucher for a buy one, get one free steak dinner. The solution? For the duration of the campaign they used the address “I want a big fat juicy steak .com” Nice, memorable and related to the offer! Simples!

A Steak Dinner

Suite 101

Yesterday I was interviewed for Suite 101 by my former boss, mentor, former Head of Creative at Radio Clyde, quoter of Burns, and all round good guy Dan McCurdy.

Dan M Curdy

You can find the interview here.

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Voicing a Commercial… How Hard Can It BE!!

The client has a great voice.
It’s true. Deep, rich and resonant.
But in the studio, and faced with a $3,000 microphone he turns into a quivering wreck.
He’s discovered that being a great voice over is not just about a great voice.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing voice artists and they are worth what they get paid. (although many will complain they don’t get paid enough by local radio stations)

The fact is, it’s not easy.

They have to read a script and make it sound like it’s not read.
They have to squish 34 seconds of verbage into 29.5 seconds.
They have to do take after take for the agency “producer” who wouldn’t know a great read from a jar of strawberry jam.
They have to deliver the same read, time and time again, with small adjustments, and remember what the producer didn’t like from the last take.
One moment they’re the voice of God, the next moment a talking dolphin.
And, they have to market themselves to writers and producers who already think they have enough talent on their books.
All with a smile.

So when a friend tells you you have a great voice and should be a voice over, by all means give it a try. But just because you can play chopsticks doesn’t mean you should give up your day job and become a concert pianist.

This month I will be attending VOX 2012 in the UK. It’s a change to meet the people whose mouths I am lucky enough to put words into.

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Useful Websites and Articles

Every now and again I find useful sites on radio advertising.

I will try and keep this updated.

So hear goes…

For a start buy this book. Just Get it. NOW!! don’t read this blog again until you have bought it. The Creative Led Sell by Mike Bersin.

Ralph Ruckman writes on 2 Secrets For Successful Radio Advertising

Dan O’Day always has great advice for writers, clients and sales people. Click here.

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Ed Harwood 1955 – 2003

Ed Harwood (right) relaxing at a Creative Training Day

8 years ago I was in Northampton and about to go into a training session with Tracey Reed, my boss and Head of Creative for GWR when we heard of the death of Ed Harwood.

We were stunned.

It didn’t seem real. We couldn’t carry on with the day and cancelled the training.

Ed was a larger than life character. The big Geordie guy in the Terminator trench coat.

When Ed disagreed with you, he told it to you straight.

He was one of those people that you thought would always be around… bringing you back to earth with a bump, challenging the way you thought about things. He could scare sales people and put them at ease within seconds.

It was Ed that told me when the twin towers had been hit, it was Ed that I worked with at Beacon Radio as a fellow Freelancer before taking full time positions at GWR.

I first met Ed at Metro Radio in around 1989…. Where he’d come in to voice a commercial for an anti-smoking campaign supported by the guys at Viz…as the Character “Biffa Bacon”. His line in a strong Geordie accent… “Divvent smerk tabs… or a’ll knock ya heed off!”

Alongside the likes of Mike Hurley he’s one of those great characters from commercial radio advertising, and one of those people who’s advice, conversations and occasional rants, have helped me in my career. It’s strange that Ed came to mind today, a conversation with a sales exec this morning just reminded me of a session we ran at Beacon Radio. It suddenly took me to that day in the Northants FM, the day Ed was in a motorcycle accident. Taken away from his new wife whom he adored. To see some tributes click here.

Thanks Ed…. And no….a coke is fine! I STILL don’t want a beer!

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Dan O’Day on Radio Advertising

Dan O'Day

I first met Dan O’Day about 15 years ago. I had heard his name mentioned by programmers and I thought that his main seminar program was all about training presenters. I soon began reading pieces he’s written on radio advertising. Dan showed a passion for getting results for clients. Many sales operations forget that the best sale is the resale… that is the client that books again because the radio advertising works for them. Many radio sales operations I know focus on getting the client “on air”… as long as the client “likes his ad” that’s all that matters… give him what he wants! Reading Dan’s Advertising Letters and reading his advice online at has helped me to concentrate on “getting the advertising to work”.

In around 2000 I completed the course he wrote for the RAB in the USA.. the Certified Professional Commercial Copywriter Course. I was the first person outside of the USA to get the qualification (according to the RAB the first person outside of Texas!). I learned many new things, but also things I already knew were organized logically, and received wisdom was challenged. (For example the section on client voiced commercials opened my eyes to a different way of thinking about it, when most radio writers threw their hands up in despair at the mere mention.) I am about to put 2 of my staff through the course, because it’s as relevant today… and in Kenya… as it was 10 years ago in the UK.
I’ve since been fortunate to attend his seminars in both Paris and London… enjoyed a car journey with him from Bristol to Northampton, and kept updated by his blog on both his travels, thoughts on advertising, and his experiences around the world.

My advice:-

If you are a radio advertising copywriter at a radio station or at an agency, take the CPPC course. It’s around $350 from the RAB. Also, sign up for his advertising email.

If you’re a client or a sales person read some of his articles and advice, even take the CPCC to get the insight on how radio advertising works.

If you are a radio station owner, book him for Advertising seminars for your commercial team.
You may not agree with EVERYTHING he says, but you will at least be able to organize your thoughts and formulate your opinions based on clear arguments and discussion.

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