Explain the timing of radio ads
September 20, 2004 8:53 AM   Subscribe

How do similar radio stations seem to synchronize their commercials? I can see how TV networks do it, but with all the different song lengths it would seem much harder for radio staions. When I flip back and forth during commercials it happens frequently enough that I feel that its more than a coincidence, even when both stations are not owned by the same company (clear channel ) Do they listen to each other to time the ads together?
posted by keithl to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
 
Music Directors at radio stations will edit playlists using a piece of software that factors in song length, as well as song frequncy, general tempo, and male versus female singers (typically they don't want more than 1 or 2 female singers back to back).

The software knows where the stop-sets are supposed to occur and helps them design the playlist around that.
posted by willnot at 9:51 AM on September 20, 2004


I should say, Stop-sets are radio speak for ads and stuff.
posted by willnot at 10:08 AM on September 20, 2004


Thats interesting, willnot. Thanks.
I guess given the song title, band, length etc. they must have to do quite a bit of data entry work, yes?
posted by keithl at 10:39 AM on September 20, 2004


Also, you have to assume all the radio stations have similar market data about when people are listening the most. So during the rush hour of 7-9 am and 4-6 pm, I'm sure there's all sorts of similarities about the audience.
posted by jeremias at 10:48 AM on September 20, 2004


I've noticed this too, but I just wrote it off as a combination of ignoring positive results (if I find music quickly I don't worry about ads) and simple probability due to the amount of ads, err stop-sets, on broadcast radio.
posted by revgeorge at 10:59 AM on September 20, 2004


I think revgeorge is on the right track. Ask yourself: How does any radio station benefit by going to all that trouble to make sure they run ads at the same time as the competition?
posted by jjg at 12:15 AM on September 21, 2004


With small radio stations (on a limited licence), it's usual to take the news from an outside radio source. This has to be played exactly on the half hour. I found it very easy (even with a play list created exactly for a two hour show) to be able to time things so they finished on the half hour. I did this by ...
- Choosing songs with lengths very close to the amount of time left.
- chatting a bit longer before playing my last song.

Hitting "to the second" targets for playing adverts / news bulletins is actually very, very easy.
posted by seanyboy at 3:14 AM on September 21, 2004


Don't radio stations have to take breaks at certain points? Announcing the call letters at designated times like the top and bottom of every hour, or stuff like that?
posted by GeekAnimator at 8:29 AM on September 21, 2004


Great insight, everybody. Thanks for taking the time to post.
posted by keithl at 10:08 AM on September 21, 2004


Answer: it's easy: they're all owned by the same company...
posted by ParisParamus at 11:58 AM on September 21, 2004


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