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Like most industries today, radio is being disrupted by new competitors, changing business models and shifting consumer behaviors. While Nielsen shows AM/FM remains the center of the audio universe, radio sellers need to arm themselves with facts and research to dispel myths and rebut misperceptions, says Charlie Sislen, partner at Research Director, on the latest episode of the Inside Radio Podcast.

“Audio entertainment is going through a massive change,” Sislen tells Inside Radio Managing Editor Paul Heine. “Yet radio is still strong, vibrant and effective for both its listeners and its advertisers.” Research Director, which Sislen joined in 1997, is devoting a lot of energy these days to arming radio sales teams with facts and figures to help win over new accounts and maintain existing ones. “You need effective and armed sales people,” Sislen tells podcast listeners. In an era where advertisers rely on empirical data to make buying decisions, sellers need to come to the table with “effective, hard-hitting, true materials,” Sislen maintains. For local sellers that means local research from services like Nielsen Scarborough or the Media Audit or national studies provided by the Radio Advertising Bureau.

Properly trained and informed radio sales people are more crucial than ever, given the growing menu of media choices advertisers and agencies have at their disposal. Not to mention the fact that some media planners and buyers still have misperceptions about radio. “We’re a legacy industry and people are much more comfortable with the new shiny baby.” Acknowledging that Pandora, Spotify and podcasting are competitive factors, Sislen points out that “radio is still dominant” and reaches potential consumers and moves products and services “better than any other advertising medium.”

By equipping sellers with a fact-filled playbook, stations can show prospects that TV, despite its status as the centerpiece of many media plans, misses some of the most desirable consumers. Using Scarborough data, Research Director has been showing radio stations how “a large segment of the population” watches no linear TV, or very little of it, and that most TV consumption is being done by a small percentage of the population. And those heavy TV viewers “are predominately 55+ and lower income,” Sislen claims. By contrast, radio’s heavy listeners are “25-54 and upscale and that is the big difference between radio and TV that we need to make sure the advertisers recognize.” Rather than declaring war on TV, radio is better off convincing advertisers to shift a portion of their ad budgets to the medium.

On the podcast, Sislen also explains how the Nielsen Media Impact planning tool can be used to show the impact of shifting a percentage of ad dollars from TV to radio. And he says the arrival of Continuous Measurement in diary markets will be a positive for the industry – as long as broadcasters buy into the upgrade. “Whenever the agency has information that the station doesn’t, it’s a dangerous situation,” he says.

And with virtually every industry being transformed, Sislen believes radio must adapt to survive. “We’ve got to get smart young people to take the gauntlet and run I with it,” he says. Listen to the Inside Radio Podcast HERE.