Clear Channel Continues To Cut Away At Ad Spots

from the going-gone dept

A couple of years ago, Clear Channel announced that it would limit the number of commercials its stations aired in a bid to stay competitive with other modes of listening to music, like satellite radio and iPods (yes, they do compete). Clear Channel's experiment, however didn't have the brightest results as fewer commercials translated to lower profits, despite efforts to charge more on a per ad basis. Still, even as the company was reporting lower revenue, it promised to maintain its limited number of ads. Now it looks to be going further in this direction, as one of its stations in Dallas will go completely commercial free. Instead of running 30 second spots, the station will make money by having companies sponsor blocks of time, with the promise that their product will be talked about in some way. Again, the station will probably see a revenue hit, but what choice does it have? As long as competition continues to take its toll on Clear Channel's bottom line, it might as well take an aggressive, proactive stance. It's also likely that the company will be criticized for not drawing a bright line between content and advertising, since the DJs will be talking about the sponsor company. But the company will be clear that the company is a sponsor of the programming, which should ameliorate these concerns. Furthermore, there's always been a blurry line separating advertising and content, as the best advertising is that which makes for good content in its own right. As long as the company is being forthright, this should be a worthwhile experiment.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Theoden, Apr 23rd, 2007 @ 8:51am

    Commercial Free

    I look forward to hearing how this goes (I live in the KZPS listening area). I have a 20 minute commute, and I am frustrated with the blocks of commercials that seem to start just after I leave the office and don't seem to end until I am halfway home!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Jeffry Houser (profile), Apr 23rd, 2007 @ 9:19am

    Clear Channel has had lots of all music stations..

    In Connecticut, Clear Channel has had a few "all music" stations over the years. They never last as "all music'. I assumed it was part of their business model.

    They would launch a 'new' station, or relaunch an old station, with the all music format. They did a lot of fanfare and promo behind it. Over the course of the first year or so, the news, Ads, DJs, all come back.

    I guess it worked, because the radio station I listen to most commonly (105.9) I started listening to during one of those launches. I don't hear nearly as much music I used to.

    Two stations they did this to: (the one I listen to) (Used to be Modern Rock Radio 104, but was relaunched as hip hop)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Hidden Force, Apr 23rd, 2007 @ 9:24am


    This sounds sort of like what Glenn Beck does on his radio show. The first "half hour of the Glenn Beck Program is brought to you with limited commercial interruption by [insert sponsor here]" and during that block, he does a live read for whatever sponsor was "sponsoring" that segment.

    Of course the second half of the hour is riddled with so many ad breaks that it's hard to listen to the show -- most radio ads are so bad these days that I turn them ALL off (and it always seems the worst ones are played right before the show returns).

    In any case, this "new" "commercial-free" format sounds like a return to the Golden Age of Radio when shows would do live reads for their sponsors rather than having commercial breaks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Brian A., Apr 23rd, 2007 @ 9:38am


    Recently I heard a rant on a public radio station about how Clear Channel is bad and how they are taking over everything. In the commentator's opinion the only way to combat this corporate juggernaut was to donate money to the station.

    From the look of it the juggernaut isn't so invincible. Hey, I"m all for donating money to worthy causes but to believe that your actually going to counter a corporation like Clear Channel is ridiculous. The only way your going to unseat the top dog is by changing the landscape be that by regulation, technology or whatever.

    Personally I don't listen to the radio anymore. I started listening to my favorite tunes on the portable but as the selection of quality podcasts has increased I've also found myself "tuning" into talk radio style content more than ever. Unless you crave the immediate nature of the radio call-in show there is simply nothing left worth listening to on the radio.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Apr 23rd, 2007 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Lament

    I agree. Years ago the radio was worth listening to when it was music with some ads. Now its suffering MTV Syndrome. Remember when MTV actally had music related shows? Now a "video" on that station starts at the halfway point, plays for maybe a minute, then fades. Damn shame when you can't watch an entire video on a music channel.

    Mind you MTV is now flooded with "reality" shows there may be 3-4 hours of music and music related programming in the average 24 hour day.

    Radio stations are now ads with a few songs played in between. Thankfully I only have a 10 walk to work so I don't deal with it too often but road trips are an aggrevation cuz I'm totally reliant on cds (I'm currently looking at mp3 players and an FM transmitter) and NPR (the only station I can actually tolerate).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Theoden, Apr 23rd, 2007 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Commercial Free

    EWWWWW! They not only got rid of the commercials, they switched to a rock and country format.

    What a rip off - now Willie Nelson is their "spokesperson", and the format change sucks!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Ron Larson, Apr 23rd, 2007 @ 4:25pm

    I gave up...

    I gave up radio two years ago and have not missed it one bit. I bought a little FM transmitter for my iPod in my car. Since then I only listen to podcasts and my music.

    NPR distributes their content on podcasts too. I subscribe to some of their feeds.

    There is so much quality content in podcasts now. Radio looks like a barren desert compared to it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    BTR1701, Apr 24th, 2007 @ 6:02am


    > Now it looks to be going further
    > in this direction, as one of its stations
    > in Dallas will go completely commercial
    > free. Instead of running 30 second
    > spots, the station will make money
    > by having companies sponsor blocks
    > of time, with the promise that their
    > product will be talked about in some way.

    Here in Washington DC, there's a morning drive-time show called "The Grandy and Andy Show", (yes, Grandy as in Fred "Gopher" Grandy") and they start each hour with what they constantly hype as "Twenty minutes of news, views, traffic and weather, commercial-free!"

    However, during that twenty minutes, the weather guy plugs the sponsor of the weather segment, the weather girl plugs the sponsor of the weather segment and Grandy and Andy themselves usually plug one or two general sponsors of the show in between their editorial comments.

    Apparently the phrase "commercial free" doesn't mean what I thought it meant. This Clear Channel thing sounds like more of the same. They don't consider them commercials if the actual hosts of the show are doing the plugging. As long as it's not a pre-recorded spot, it's not a "commercial" under their strange definition of the word.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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