With the exception of NPR, I no longer listen to the radio. It might be more accurate to say that there simply is no more FM radio, because here in Los Angeles — where it seems every station claims to have 20, 30, 40, or 50-minute “rock blocks” — I invariably hear nothing but 8, 9, and 10-minute advertising blocks. And, to be honest, most of the time the “listener-supported” National Public Radio station 89.3 seems to be spending an absurd amount of time telling me which private enterprise is “sponsoring” what is currently being broadcast.

I no longer listen to the radio.

The situation is just as bad on AM radio. Now, granted, I only ever listen to ESPN710 and — once in a blue moon — AM570 for football games. But even though SportsCenter airs for two or three minutes every 20 minutes, they still manage somehow to squeeze, just like FM radio, 8, 9, and 10-minute advertising blocks several times per hour. It’s simply ridiculous. I get in the shower in the morning and flip to Mike & Mike in the Morning or The Herd and listen until the ads start; then I just turn off the radio because I know there’s not a chance in hell I’ll hear any more programming before I’m done with my shower. It’s the same thing in the car, too. Even if I know I’ll be driving for forty minutes, I just turn off the radio or change the station when I hear an ad because there’s going to be another six or seven before they return from the commercial break.

If I knew there was going to be a thirty-second interruption every few minutes, I’d stay on the station. It’s that simple. For the life of me I don’t understand why advertisers don’t insist that their spots don’t air in the middle of an eight-minute block of ads. If you’re the sales rep for one of these companies — and it’s an indictment of how poorly the current system works that I can’t remember off the top of my head any of the dozens of products which advertise during the day — wouldn’t you insist, or at least pay considerably more to insure, that your ad not air during minute four of a ten-minute block? There is no chance in hell that I’m going to stay on a single station after three consecutive thirty-second commercials.

But if I am listening to Colin Cowherd and he says, “This part of the show is sponsored by Company ABC!” and then there’s a thirty-second ad and then programming immediately returned to The Herd, I’d have no problem with that — and as an added bonus I’d probably actually remember who the show’s sponsor is. As it is now as soon as I hear him say, “We’ll be right back,” I usually just switch to my iPod because I know he is lying. He’s not going to be right back. It will be a solid eight minutes before he returns.

So what’s the logic here? Why are radio stations — yes, even NPR — stuck in this obviously ineffective advertising paradigm? I just don’t get it.

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  1. […] time on TV has shot up from 15% of total time in the 60s to as much as 40% of total time now. Radio advertising time has skyrocketed. Magazines have filled up with ads – many filling anywhere from 30 to 40% of their space with […]

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