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Successful Radio and Television Advertising






Seehafer E.F. Successful radio and television advertising. – New York /Toronto / London : McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1951. – 557 р.








Advertising is not a mystery–nor is it a trick. Reduced to its basic function it is simply selling.

Radio advertising is a vital segment in the over-all advertising picture. In less than thirty years the radio advertising industry has grown to a stature which not even the most imaginative could have foreseen a few decades ago. Our newest advertising medium, television, is without a doubt embarking upon a career which will be even more colorful and effective.

In addition to being responsible for the movement of great quantities of goods to consumers, radio and television advertising has a vital effect on American society. Practically every family in the United States has at its finger tips the best radio program fare available anywhere in the world. Television will go even further in this direction as the industry develops. Listening and viewing hours often establish daily living patterns, and program content does much to impress ideas, formulate opinions, and stimulate thinking.

Fortunately, the majority of advertisers who utilize radio and television respect the privileges of the American system of free radio and television and recognize their responsibility to the American public. Stations and networks guard the great responsibility which is theirs by establishing standards of practice created in the public interest.

Among our people, however, there are those who lose patience and perspective when they hear or see certain types of commercial advertising. They should remember that the radio and television industry is a human institution and that there will be those who abuse its privileges. This book points out such abuses and erects signposts for improvement. However, the mistakes of a few should not be grounds for favoring the elimination of our free system of radio and television any more than a local political scandal would be grounds for a complete change in the structure of the Federal government.

Some listeners have said that the American government should not allow certain programs or certain types of commercials on the air. Such persons forget that the day the government censors radio or television will mark the day America loses its privilege of free speech.

The radio industry is a dynamic one. It is not content with the status quo. Television is even more dynamic, and it taxes the imagination to attempt to predict what the status of TV will be in so short a period as ten years, or even five or less! Today, as always, broadcasters and advertisers alike continually strive to give the American public better listening and viewing fare. This principle is fundamental in the American system. Better broadcasting and better telecasting mean more listeners and viewers–a step toward greater product sales.

Successful advertisers have found that radio and television advertising, like all other forms of advertising, is based on certain well-established principles. The purpose of this book is to state these principles so that the student may discover what determines successful radio and television advertising. Yet it must be kept in mind that advertising by radio and television remains more of an art than an exact science. There is no substitute for creative thinking, projected from a knowledge of fundamental principles.

Radio and television advertising is complicated in its operation. For instructional purposes all phases of the activities of each medium will be examined individually. But while factors may be isolated in their textbook treatment, in practice there are close correlation and interplay of forces in every phase. The finished product is a complete advertising campaign–well coordinated with all other advertising, sales and sales-promotion activities.

If the reader gains from these pages a better appreciation of our free American system of commercial radio and television and a knowledge of what constitutes successful advertising with these two dynamic media, the objective of this book will have been accomplished.



E. F. Seehafer J. W. Laemmar

Minneapolis, Minn. Chicago, III. December, 1950





1. The American System of Radio and Television

2. Radio and Television Stations

3. Radio and Television Networks

4. Coverage and Circulation

5. The Radio and Television Audience

6. Live Talent and Live Music

7. Transcriptions and Transcription Companies

8. Spot Radio and Television Advertising

9. Commercial Radio and Television Writing

10. Selecting and Testing Programs

11. Program Ratings

12. Radio and Television Production and Direction

13. The Advertising Agency

14. Time Buying

15. Regulating Radio and Television Advertising

16. The Retail Radio or Television Advertiser

17. The Retail Radio or Television Advertising Campaign

18. The National Radio or Television Advertiser

19. The National Radio or Television Advertising Campaign

20. Measuring Radio and Television Advertising Sales Effectiveness

21. Building the Radio and Television Audience

22. Merchandising Radio and Television Advertising

23. Selling Radio and Television Time

24. Television–The New Advertising Medium

Appendix A: Timing Table for Radio Commercials

Appendix B: Radio Station KYSM BMB Report






The world's best radio entertainment–variety, music, news, education, audience participation, serious talks, comedy, dramatics, sports all at the twist of an American radio dial. Snap a switch and all this is yours whether you are dialing a midget bargain-counter special or the latest solid-mahogany combination complete with AM, FM, television, three-speed phonograph, and short wave. Radio signals reach your home regardless of its location–in the swank suburbs, the farmhouse, the city penthouse, the small apartment, or the tenement room. On the move, radio is with you on trains, in planes, in ships at sea, or in automobiles. Portable radios bring listening fare for picnickers, sunbathers on the beach, or last-row sports spectators.

Through the American system of commercial radio the poorest man receives what the richest man could not afford to buy. Radio is an extremely democratic channel of information and entertainment. It succeeds or fails on the public's own judgment and taste. The public picks the programs it wants, and, while it may not have complete choice at all hours, its choice is much wider than in almost any other medium. Certainly no foreign system of radio can equal the American system in popular appeal.

Other systems of broadcasting throughout the world have been stunted and dwarfed in their development by rigid government control. But in the hands of private enterprise, the American system has developed in a phenomenal manner. And as one of the leading advertising media in the United States, radio is a vital and highly important stimulus to American business.

Television has already greatly widened the effective scope of broadcast advertising. We can look for much more from this, the newest of advertising media, since TV is only in its infancy.

This book is written to show how the American businessman, large or small, can successfully utilize the American system of radio and television as a vital tool of successful selling.




Radio broadcasting, as we know it today, stems from discoveries as early as 1729. In that year an English experimenter gathered up the meager threads of prior knowledge and pointed out the difference between conductors and insulators of what we now call electricity. Basic discoveries in the field of magnetism and electricity followed, one investigator contributing additions to the knowledge of another. New facts became known to new thinkers who, in turn, stimulated others. The nineteenth-century development of the telegraph, the telephone, and wireless telegraphy led to the development of wireless telephony shortly after the turn of the twentieth century.

During the First World War the armed forces placed great emphasis on the military development of broadcasting, and many unknowns of wireless telephony became the knowns of radio. By the end of the war, radio had grown from the laboratory stage to a point where it was ready to take its place as a new industry. Numerous radio experimenters were on the air, and FCC records indicate that on Jan. 1, 1922, thirty radio stations were licensed in the United States.

But the problem of how the broadcasts were to be paid for was still unsolved. The American Telephone & Telegraph Company entered the broadcasting business feeling, for one thing, that radio would supplant wired telephone service. Other early broadcasters were manufacturers who believed that broadcasting activities could be paid for out of the profits they derived from the sales of receiving sets. Numerous other ideas were suggested for financing radio, some of which recommended complete government control.

It soon became obvious that radio was no longer a toy but could be used by American businessmen to advertise their goods and services. More important, it became apparent that advertising revenue could support radio stations. The first commercial broadcast in the United States took place on Aug. 28, 1922, over A.T.&T.'s Radio Station WEAF, New York (now WNBG). The broadcast was a sponsored talk from 5:15 to 5:30 p.m. by Mr. H. H. Stockwell of the Queensborough Corporation, promoters of the Jackson Heights real estate development on Long Island. The program consisted of a solid 15-minute commercial, extolling the virtues of the development.

Other early radio advertisers included American Express, Browning King, Gimbel Brothers, Goldwyn Picture Corporation, R. H. Macy, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and I. Miller & Sons. The majority of early commercial programs were in the form of straight talks, like the first commercial broadcast of the Queensborough Corporation.

"The daily record sheets of WEAF disclose the fact that the commercial musical program was originated by Gimbel Brothers of New York on March 1, 1923 and was continued by this firm in a noteworthy series of concerts and recitals for nearly two months before Browning King began their famous Wednesday Night Dance series on April 25, 1923".2

"The first feature to be handled on anything approximating a national basis was the broadcast of the Victor Company on New Year's night, 1925, at which time a large number of stations were linked temporarily to the WEAF network to carry the program".3

Out of such early beginnings developed the American system of commercial radio.




When the Titanic sank in 1912, the ship was fully equipped with wireless transmitting and receiving equipment. However, iceberg warnings and later rescue operations were hindered because numerous interfering wireless transmitters, especially those of amateurs, were filling the air with Morse code. To prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy, Congress passed the Radio Communications Act of Aug. 13, 1912.

The act required all transmitting stations to obtain licenses from the Department of Commerce. (Earlier, Congress had given the Interstate Commerce Commission control over telegraph, telephone, and cable companies sending messages in interstate or foreign commerce by wire . or wireless.) However, licensing under the act of 1912 was a mere matter of registration. The Department of Commerce was inadequately staffed to handle the problems of stations shifting from their assigned frequency to another, stations increasing their power without authority, and other complications.

Broadcasters with considerable sums invested in radio equipment demanded a strong government arm to prevent "the piracy of the air waves". The situation became acute as more and more broadcasters went on the air. By Mar. 1, 1923, there were 556 stations on the air, and on Feb. 23, 1927, the official count was 733.

The Radio Act of 1927 established the Federal Radio Commission, which took over regulation from the Department of Commerce on Feb.


1 Archer, G. L., History of Radio (American Historical Society, New York, 1938), p. 289.

2 Ibid., p. 290.

3 Hettinger, H. S., A Decade of Radio Advertising (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1933), p. 107…"


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See also:

Profitable Newspaper Advertising

Newspaper Advertising Sales

Make the Sell. How to Sell Media with Marketing

Books on Advertising

Books on PR

Books on Mass Media