Cast Your Vote for...Radio!


2014 brings a host of elections – governors, U.S. Congress, and state legislatures. Below is a list of all the offices up for election in the New York metro this year. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent on campaign advertising. Where will all that money go?

Television has long been a popular choice for political advertising. However, new research is suggesting that radio might be a better fit. A whopping 78% of New York metro Adults 18+ are registered to vote1, compared to 65% of the U.S. population2. In fact, the New York metro exceeds the U.S. population with voter registration in all major age, gender, and ethnic groups.

So, we’ve got over 11 million voters available to be influenced by a given political message1. Why choose Radio? Well, for starters, more Adults 18+ in the New York metro use Radio in a given week than cable TV, broadcast TV, or the internet.

Another persuasive reason for using Radio to reach potential voters is targetability. Candidates may want to focus on a specific age group, ethnicity, geography, lifestyle, or political affiliation. Comparing Radio listening in the New York metro based on these different criteria can vastly change the make-up of the top-performing stations. In addition, going beyond sheer audience size, a particular station that doesn’t show up towards the top of a ranker may still be the most efficient buy – for example, while WAAA‑FM might be #20 on a ranker, if its audience is 70% Democratic then Democratic political candidates will get more bang for their buck.

And what about political advertising effectiveness on Radio versus TV? During the 2012 Presidential race, from April 11 through election day, Obama and Romney spent approximately $896 million on political TV advertising3. There are two big issues to consider here: fragmentation and the growth in recorded viewing.

Fragmentation has been a factor for a few decades now, beginning with the propagation of specialized cable channels. These days, TV, Radio, and newspapers have to vie with smartphones, tablets, and the internet for people’s media time. In a new study released by political strategists Julie Hootkin and Robert Blizzard, they assert that “the country has reached ‘a tipping point’ in the competition for viewers between traditional live television and other forms of viewing content4.”

This leads into the second issue TV is facing – recorded viewing. Nearly half (47%) of New York metro Adults 18+ live in a household that owns a DVR1. That means delayed viewing and, more importantly, the ability to skip commercials. According to Hootkin and Blizzard’s study, recorded programming ranks second behind live TV as the primary source for watching video content – and of those watching recorded programming, “a majority said they skip 100 percent of the ads when they watch4.” Radio, on the other hand, is real-time with ads that can’t be skipped.

When you factor in reach, targetability, and the live nature of Radio, there’s one obvious conclusion: Radio is a great choice for political advertising!


  1. 1 Scarborough, NY MSA, Mar13-Feb14, Mon-Sun 6A-12Mid
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2012
  3. The Washington Post, “Mad Money: TV ads in the 2012 presidential campaign”
  4. The Washington Post, “As viewing habits change, political campaigns must change their habits, as well”