Radio Commercial Production Tips

Written By

SMI Staff

Published On

Thursday, Mar 13
file9661261139874

This post was updated in 2021. You can find it here.

It is said that radio advertising is the theater of the mind, because the images created by radio come from within. It’s likely that radio advertising is able to paint such an everlasting mental picture, as radio ads rely heavily on the imagination of its listeners. The radio – theater metaphor rings especially true for those of us who engage in radio commercial production. When you have 60 seconds to convey a message that compels a generally distracted audience to act, and you strip away all visual aides such as eye catching fonts or interesting photography, you are left with the exciting challenge of creating a theater of the mind that not only entertains, but inspires people to take immediate action. Here are a few radio commercial production tips that can help set the stage for a successful radio ad.

Casting – This is an extremely important aspect of any radio commercial production process. While radio production costs significantly less than other mediums, if you fail to cast the right voice talent for your radio ads the outcome will likely be a lot of wasted time and potentially a lot of wasted money. Studio time, direction time, and commercial production – these all cost time and money. The best way to avoid wasting time and money in the production process is to hire the right talent for the job. In order to cast the correct voice talent, you must have a strong understanding of the tone of the spot. The tone will vary based on product, target audience, etc. but there are a few qualities to look for across the board. First, a voice must grab attention – look for voices that stand out in some way; a voice that can break through the clutter. Next, the voice needs to have authenticity. Radio listeners need to believe in the message the voice talent is trying to convey. You’ll also want to understand the type of voice that will resonate the most with your target audience. Before going into a radio commercial production session, it is extremely important to have the above considerations in line.

Directing – After you’ve chosen your voice talent and scheduled studio time or a phone patch in studio session, the next step in the radio commercial production timeline is directing the voice talent to create an effective ad. There are thousands of radio commercial direction tips out there. Here are a few key items to get you started: Pre-Session, designate one person who will speak to the voice talent. On direction calls, there are often many people in the room – the copywriter, production engineer, the voice talent, sometimes even the client. It can be detrimental to the session if everyone in the room chimes in with their feedback at once. This can overwhelm the voice talent, and have them diving into a number of different directions, trying to please everybody in the room. This gets away from the most important goal of the session: Producing an ad that effectively gets the message across, and compels the audience to act. When producing a radio ad, to keep direction consistent it is best that feedback and direction is channeled through one person. Before you go into a directing session, it’s also very helpful if you’re armed with a large, descriptive vocabulary. In radio commercial production, the only sense your audience is using to process your message is hearing. It is crucial that you are able to create the exact sound that you envision for the spot. In order to produce the sound you envision, you must be able to articulate that vision and sound to the voice over talent. Not only will you need to paint a mental picture of what the ad sounds like, but you’ll also have to coach the talent on how to make each line convey that mental image.

Production – I won’t go into every single specification involved with radio commercial production, but I’ll share a few notes to consider. An obvious tip is that crisp, clear sound works best on the radio. Delving deeper into that advice, there are a few not-so-obvious ideas to work with. One aspect to consider for making an ad stand out is the question of music background. Often times, a voice talent is drowned out or the audience is distracted by music that is too loud or simply too “busy”. In order to ensure your message is received, take time to consider whether you really need music in the spot at all. If the music isn’t there for a specific reason, chances are – you do not need it. Another radio commercial production tip to chew on is to make sure the audio quality is excellent on any spot your produce. If you’re editing in-house, be sure to save your working files as wav files, so you don’t lose quality with each saved draft. Each time an Mp3 file is saved and re-saved, the overall audio quality decreases, so if you’re working on radio commercial production yourself, make sure to keep this in mind. If you’re working with a studio, ask them which specs they’ll be recording at, and in which format you’ll receive the files. It would be a huge mistake to put a lot of time, money, and effort into excellent copy and direction, yet end up with a radio ad that doesn’t perform well because the audio sounds muffled or unclear.

There is a lot of information to be learned on radio commercial production. Keep these starter ideas in mind as you begin your radio commercial production journey.

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This post was updated in 2021. You can find it here.

It is said that radio advertising is the theater of the mind, because the images created by radio come from within. It’s likely that radio advertising is able to paint such an everlasting mental picture, as radio ads rely heavily on the imagination of its listeners. The radio – theater metaphor rings especially true for those of us who engage in radio commercial production. When you have 60 seconds to convey a message that compels a generally distracted audience to act, and you strip away all visual aides such as eye catching fonts or interesting photography, you are left with the exciting challenge of creating a theater of the mind that not only entertains, but inspires people to take immediate action. Here are a few radio commercial production tips that can help set the stage for a successful radio ad.

Casting – This is an extremely important aspect of any radio commercial production process. While radio production costs significantly less than other mediums, if you fail to cast the right voice talent for your radio ads the outcome will likely be a lot of wasted time and potentially a lot of wasted money. Studio time, direction time, and commercial production – these all cost time and money. The best way to avoid wasting time and money in the production process is to hire the right talent for the job. In order to cast the correct voice talent, you must have a strong understanding of the tone of the spot. The tone will vary based on product, target audience, etc. but there are a few qualities to look for across the board. First, a voice must grab attention – look for voices that stand out in some way; a voice that can break through the clutter. Next, the voice needs to have authenticity. Radio listeners need to believe in the message the voice talent is trying to convey. You’ll also want to understand the type of voice that will resonate the most with your target audience. Before going into a radio commercial production session, it is extremely important to have the above considerations in line.

Directing – After you’ve chosen your voice talent and scheduled studio time or a phone patch in studio session, the next step in the radio commercial production timeline is directing the voice talent to create an effective ad. There are thousands of radio commercial direction tips out there. Here are a few key items to get you started: Pre-Session, designate one person who will speak to the voice talent. On direction calls, there are often many people in the room – the copywriter, production engineer, the voice talent, sometimes even the client. It can be detrimental to the session if everyone in the room chimes in with their feedback at once. This can overwhelm the voice talent, and have them diving into a number of different directions, trying to please everybody in the room. This gets away from the most important goal of the session: Producing an ad that effectively gets the message across, and compels the audience to act. When producing a radio ad, to keep direction consistent it is best that feedback and direction is channeled through one person. Before you go into a directing session, it’s also very helpful if you’re armed with a large, descriptive vocabulary. In radio commercial production, the only sense your audience is using to process your message is hearing. It is crucial that you are able to create the exact sound that you envision for the spot. In order to produce the sound you envision, you must be able to articulate that vision and sound to the voice over talent. Not only will you need to paint a mental picture of what the ad sounds like, but you’ll also have to coach the talent on how to make each line convey that mental image.

Production – I won’t go into every single specification involved with radio commercial production, but I’ll share a few notes to consider. An obvious tip is that crisp, clear sound works best on the radio. Delving deeper into that advice, there are a few not-so-obvious ideas to work with. One aspect to consider for making an ad stand out is the question of music background. Often times, a voice talent is drowned out or the audience is distracted by music that is too loud or simply too “busy”. In order to ensure your message is received, take time to consider whether you really need music in the spot at all. If the music isn’t there for a specific reason, chances are – you do not need it. Another radio commercial production tip to chew on is to make sure the audio quality is excellent on any spot your produce. If you’re editing in-house, be sure to save your working files as wav files, so you don’t lose quality with each saved draft. Each time an Mp3 file is saved and re-saved, the overall audio quality decreases, so if you’re working on radio commercial production yourself, make sure to keep this in mind. If you’re working with a studio, ask them which specs they’ll be recording at, and in which format you’ll receive the files. It would be a huge mistake to put a lot of time, money, and effort into excellent copy and direction, yet end up with a radio ad that doesn’t perform well because the audio sounds muffled or unclear.

There is a lot of information to be learned on radio commercial production. Keep these starter ideas in mind as you begin your radio commercial production journey.

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When it comes to audience targeting, nimbleness, and reach–the evidence is clear: audio advertising is a wise investment.  

That being said, marketing managers are more often forced to justify ad spend with ever increasing returns on investment. Budget and talent constraints–no matter how remarkable your product or service is–often put your brand at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking through the noise and seeing any meaningful ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) so relying on great creative alone is not enough. A multifaceted approach is paramount.

In order to launch, scale, and optimize a campaign for success, strategizing where and when your ad is heard is critical.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We have the Expert Infastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation. 

 

 

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

Collaboration Yields Results

Senior Media Buyer, Pam Wolfgram underscores the importance of our industry relationships:  

“Our media partners are exactly that: partners. They have a vested interest in helping us help our clients; it means more business! Even if they have to take it on the chin here and there for a client’s success–and they do–they know they’ll make it up in the long game, as we will send them every schedule that makes sense down the road. They want to work hard for us and for our clients.

As an example, we recently orchestrated a massive creative change affecting over 600 stations and it had to go off without a hitch, as “hitches” are mistakes that lead not only to credits being taken, but also to skewed results that make a test difficult to read. I reached out to every rep impacted by the change to express the importance of the test and walked away feeling completely at ease knowing that they were going to get with their traffic people and watch over the test like hawks. A little extra communication goes a long way!” 

All of SMI’s media buyers, researchers, and strategists have something in common: they know firsthand the value of respectful dialogue and perseverance. 

The motto of our Media team? 

There's always a workable solution to get meaningful return on ad spend. 

If you’re ready to invest more wisely in your audio advertising, start a conversation with us today! 

This is part one of SMI’s three-part series called Give Your Brand a Voice. Stay tuned for our next article focused on Creative! 

    facebook
    twitter
    linkedin
[/et_pb_section][/et_pb_post_content]
[/et_pb_row]
[/et_pb_column]

When it comes to audience targeting, nimbleness, and reach–the evidence is clear: audio advertising is a wise investment.  

That being said, marketing managers are more often forced to justify ad spend with ever increasing returns on investment. Budget and talent constraints–no matter how remarkable your product or service is–often put your brand at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking through the noise and seeing any meaningful ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) so relying on great creative alone is not enough. A multifaceted approach is paramount.

In order to launch, scale, and optimize a campaign for success, strategizing where and when your ad is heard is critical.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We have the Expert Infastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation. 

 

 

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

Collaboration Yields Results

Senior Media Buyer, Pam Wolfgram underscores the importance of our industry relationships:  

“Our media partners are exactly that: partners. They have a vested interest in helping us help our clients; it means more business! Even if they have to take it on the chin here and there for a client’s success–and they do–they know they’ll make it up in the long game, as we will send them every schedule that makes sense down the road. They want to work hard for us and for our clients.

As an example, we recently orchestrated a massive creative change affecting over 600 stations and it had to go off without a hitch, as “hitches” are mistakes that lead not only to credits being taken, but also to skewed results that make a test difficult to read. I reached out to every rep impacted by the change to express the importance of the test and walked away feeling completely at ease knowing that they were going to get with their traffic people and watch over the test like hawks. A little extra communication goes a long way!” 

All of SMI’s media buyers, researchers, and strategists have something in common: they know firsthand the value of respectful dialogue and perseverance. 

The motto of our Media team? 

There’s always a workable solution to get meaningful return on ad spend. 

If you’re ready to invest more wisely in your audio advertising, start a conversation with us today! 

This is part one of SMI’s three-part series called Give Your Brand a Voice. Stay tuned for our next article focused on Creative! 

    facebook
    twitter
    linkedin
[/et_pb_section]
[/et_pb_column]

When it comes to audience targeting, nimbleness, and reach–the evidence is clear: audio advertising is a wise investment.  

That being said, marketing managers are more often forced to justify ad spend with ever increasing returns on investment. Budget and talent constraints–no matter how remarkable your product or service is–often put your brand at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking through the noise and seeing any meaningful ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) so relying on great creative alone is not enough. A multifaceted approach is paramount.

facebook
twitter
linkedin
[/et_pb_social_media_follow][/et_pb_column]
In order to launch, scale, and optimize a campaign for success, strategizing where and when your ad is heard is critical.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We have the Expert Infastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation. 

 

 

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

Collaboration Yields Results

Senior Media Buyer, Pam Wolfgram underscores the importance of our industry relationships:  

“Our media partners are exactly that: partners. They have a vested interest in helping us help our clients; it means more business! Even if they have to take it on the chin here and there for a client’s success–and they do–they know they’ll make it up in the long game, as we will send them every schedule that makes sense down the road. They want to work hard for us and for our clients.

As an example, we recently orchestrated a massive creative change affecting over 600 stations and it had to go off without a hitch, as “hitches” are mistakes that lead not only to credits being taken, but also to skewed results that make a test difficult to read. I reached out to every rep impacted by the change to express the importance of the test and walked away feeling completely at ease knowing that they were going to get with their traffic people and watch over the test like hawks. A little extra communication goes a long way!” 

All of SMI’s media buyers, researchers, and strategists have something in common: they know firsthand the value of respectful dialogue and perseverance. 

The motto of our Media team? 

There’s always a workable solution to get meaningful return on ad spend. 

If you’re ready to invest more wisely in your audio advertising, start a conversation with us today! 

This is part one of SMI’s three-part series called Give Your Brand a Voice. Stay tuned for our next article focused on Creative! 

[/et_pb_column]

When it comes to audience targeting, nimbleness, and reach–the evidence is clear: audio advertising is a wise investment.  

That being said, marketing managers are more often forced to justify ad spend with ever increasing returns on investment. Budget and talent constraints–no matter how remarkable your product or service is–often put your brand at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking through the noise and seeing any meaningful ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) so relying on great creative alone is not enough. A multifaceted approach is paramount.

[/et_pb_column]
twitter
linkedin
In order to launch, scale, and optimize a campaign for success, strategizing where and when your ad is heard is critical.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

We Have the Expert Infrastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation.

A group of gears stacked on each other

We have the Expert Infastructure

In addition to SMI’s dedicated Creative and Analytics teams, our media buyers and strategists have deep industry relationships and format connections.  

Our Media team works in tandem with Client Services to understand the target demographics and geographical considerations alongside the short and long-term goals of our clients. Their combined expertise, in collaboration with our Analytics team, allows us to be vigilant in evaluating and communicating campaign performance in real time.  

Because our buyers and strategists have built and nurtured relationships with stations, agencies, and shows–we are also able to pivot precisely and aggressively if need be. Even in the days of such potent technology and automation, sometimes a format or rate adjustment simply comes down to the power of a well-handled telephone conversation. 

 

 

influencers streaming a podcast at college radio station

Collaboration Yields Results

Senior Media Buyer, Pam Wolfgram underscores the importance of our industry relationships:  

“Our media partners are exactly that: partners. They have a vested interest in helping us help our clients; it means more business! Even if they have to take it on the chin here and there for a client’s success–and they do–they know they’ll make it up in the long game, as we will send them every schedule that makes sense down the road. They want to work hard for us and for our clients.

As an example, we recently orchestrated a massive creative change affecting over 600 stations and it had to go off without a hitch, as “hitches” are mistakes that lead not only to credits being taken, but also to skewed results that make a test difficult to read. I reached out to every rep impacted by the change to express the importance of the test and walked away feeling completely at ease knowing that they were going to get with their traffic people and watch over the test like hawks. A little extra communication goes a long way!” 

All of SMI’s media buyers, researchers, and strategists have something in common: they know firsthand the value of respectful dialogue and perseverance. 

The motto of our Media team? 

There’s always a workable solution to get meaningful return on ad spend. 

If you’re ready to invest more wisely in your audio advertising, start a conversation with us today! 

This is part one of SMI’s three-part series called Give Your Brand a Voice. Stay tuned for our next article focused on Creative!