Forums » Friday Polls

Friday Poll: How Did You Get into Radio Advertising Sales?

    • 1236 posts
    September 4, 2009 12:55 AM PDT
    This is a question for all members, and we really hope everyone will take a few minutes to answer it:

    How did you end up in the radio advertising sales business? What led you to choose radio advertising sales as a career? Did you "choose" it? Or did you stumble across it?

    Please share your story! We'd like to collect as many as we can, and yours is important to us!

    Thank you.
    • 1042 posts
    September 4, 2009 1:00 AM PDT

    It was 1972. I was 21 years old, married, a new father to a beautiful baby girl, brand new in town, trying to attend school part time and in desperate need of a job.

    I'd tried selling newspaper advertising. The publisher of the two "country weeklies" told me he could pay me $75 a week for 2 weeks, and then I'd be on my own. Turns out I wasn't quite ready for whatever success he envisioned. (He did let me trade for haircuts though.) That job didn't last very long.

    Next I tried my hand at selling pianos, organs and guitars. I got to have a nice spinet organ in our apartment, for training purposes, of course. (It was a Conn model 760, as I recall. "Sixty-three independent tone generators for more lifelike sound.") But I soon realized it wasn't really a good fit and I didn't see myself having much of a future working at the music store. So I started casting about for a more attractive opportunity.

    One day I noticed a classified ad in the Springfield, IL newspaper. WFMB-FM, Springfield's first FM country and western station, was looking for something called an "account executive." I called the station to inquire about the position. They invited me in for an interview, after which they said they'd call me and let me know if I had the job.

    Days went by without hearing anything. So I phoned the station. "We're still interviewing people," they told me.

    "Am I in the running?"

    (pause) "We'll let you know."

    Long story short, I ended up making several more calls to the station over the next week. Even stopped by in person, uninvited, to ask if they were getting close to a decision. I was getting desperate.

    After some half-dozen follow-ups, Mr. (Jack) Hoskins, the General Manager, said to me, "You really want this job, don't you?"

    "Yes, I do."

    "Well, okay, we'll give you a try and see how it goes..."

    If you had seen me back then, sporting an "afro" and wearing one of my dad's old suits, you immediately would have understood their hesitation to hire me. Looking back now, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have hired me!

    So, I started selling radio advertising for WFMB-FM in January 1973. In the process, I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of persistence. And even though I backed into the business more or less by accident, it turned out to be a much better fit than my dad's old suit.

    • 1 posts
    September 4, 2009 1:33 AM PDT
    I got into radio sales 10 years ago, by chance i guess.

    I worked at the local amusement park in Blackpool, the Pleasure Beach and i used to look after all the tv, press and radio people at any speacial events, show openings etc. I got asked a few times if i'd ever thought of doing sales as i have great people skills, which i needed as i was in PR. I said over and over again that i would never want to do sales!!!!

    10 years later, i'm the sales director for 2 commercial stations in the North West of England. I love it!!

    I gave it a try and found that i loved meeting different people all the time and that selling came quite easily for me, but that is because i totally and utterly believe in the product that is my station and the product that is radio itself. Belive in what you are sellling and you can sell anything!! After two years i became senior sales, a year later sales manager, year after that head of sales, then sales director, then i took on the new station.

    What an amazing journey!! Still traveling it, and still loving it!

    Paula
    • 14 posts
    September 4, 2009 2:42 AM PDT
    Upon graduation from Hanover College in 1977, I went to work as an Exploring Executive with the Boy Scouts in Michigan. After almost two years it became apparent that relying on volunteers to earn a living was not my cup of tea, so I moved back home to Greencastle, Indiana just before Memorial Day 1979. That next Tuesday I walked in to the local radio station (WJNZ) and told owner/GM Jinsie Bingham that I wanted to be in radio..."I'll even sell to be in radio....". Jinsie said ok, and handed me a paper placemat that had ads for the border and said that this was a piece that the station sold to advertise the Putnam County Fair in July..."see what you can do with this...". I had it sold out 2 days later (it was supposed to keep me busy for a couple of weeks) and stayed at WJNZ selling and on-the air until December of 1984. During that time I met, hired as office manager, and married my wife Kandee. I moved to the GM position at WAXI in Rockville in January of '85 where I've been, minus a 5 year hiatus, ever since.
    • 9 posts
    September 4, 2009 3:34 AM PDT
    i have been in sles of one type or another since I was 18. Firstly for an insurance Brokers, then i moved into the motor trade and was happily selling high end cars for 6 years. The hours in the motor trade are far better suited to a single man than one planning to get married as it was a 6 or 7 day week and an 8 pm finish every other week, so I was looking for a Monday to Friday sales job, not an easy task.
    Out in the car one day, and listening to the local station, I heard an advert on air, advertising an account managers position available. I called the number, arranged a CV by e-mail, got an interview, and now have the best job I have ever had. I have now been here 3 years and am training for Sales Manager.God Bless Radio!!

    Chris.
    • 65 posts
    September 4, 2009 3:38 AM PDT
    After working in office supply sales, laborer in a tire plant, construction forman, pre-cast concrete plant manager, bar and restaurant manager, automotive aftermarket sales, and as an earth science teacher, I decided to try something different. The owner of the local radio station (an acquaintence of mine) was looking for another sales person. He hired me and then sold the station. I worked for the new owner for a while, then left to use my geology degree at a water testing facility. It wasn't challenging enough and the radio station found out I wasn't very happy. They called and asked if I wanted to come back. That was 5 years ago and I've been here since. Always a challenge, I love setting new goals for myself and meeting new people. My creative writing courses have helped me have an edge on my compadres as far as the uniqueness and quality of my commercials. They seek me out when they want something new and different. Maybe tomorrow I'll try taxidermy, but for now, I like the excitement and challenges that this job has.
    • 12 posts
    September 4, 2009 4:23 AM PDT
    I actually started on-air back in the early 80's and while working part-time my GM's wife kept telling me I needed to get into sales. I finally made the decision in 1999 to quit driving a truck and come aboard full time as an AE. It was the best decision I could have made as I enjoy working with small businesses and helping them grow and it's a great way to make a living. I crossed over to the "the dark side" and have never had any regrets. Thanks to all who helped to shape my career in radio.
  • September 4, 2009 5:22 AM PDT
    I started in radio on air, and as I quickly moved up the ladder on-air, I still was not happy with the compensation that I was making and I saw the money the sales staff was making, not to mention they never worked holidays or weekends. So, I decided to investigate the possibilities of entering sales. Once I entered sales, i couldn't believe how rewarding it was, watching a clients business grow, the relationships you build in the community,
    and oh yes, the money! Just one tip, you can only get out of a community what your willing to put into a community!
    Have a GREAT Labor Day Weekend!
    Mike.
    • 268 posts
    September 4, 2009 5:44 AM PDT
    A good friend of mine, Yogi Yoder once told me that Radio is like Denny's. No one ever leaves the house with the intent to go to Denny's... but somewhere along the line, drunk and Hungry, there you are.

    I was going to school to become an auto mechanic and got a part time job in Radio in the 70's. I ended up staying in radio- on air. It didn't take me long to realize that salespeople in radio made enough money to live with less than five roomates, and actually eat THREE meals a day. The rest is, as they say, history.
    • 1 posts
    September 4, 2009 7:44 AM PDT
    I quit my job as a Computer Systems Administrator for Washington State University because I was bored and decided to start my own business. The recession hit and my current boss, Robb Hauser talked me into working for him. I'm still new though. Just celebrated one full year in radio. Woohoo!!
    • 18 posts
    September 4, 2009 7:52 AM PDT
    I'd been in parttime commercial radio, high school and college radio for 12 years when I came to WKBK (The Big "K") in Keene in 1967after college...It was a daytimer and as the hours shortened, I became expendable until we lost a sales rep in a car accident, so I said I would sell and started to..had a draft board interrupt the process a few month later, but returned to air work and sales afterward. I have and do sell other things, but the skill we need to sell Radio, makes selling anything else a piece of cake. In a brief hiatus from Radio in 1972, I sold for the Goodyear store in town..sold more bicycles that anyone in the district. Back in Radio sales in "73, it was clear sailing till now. Some excursions away at a Chamber of Commerce executive (selling the region and the chamber's programs) and as retail store owner, still am, and that experience has been invaluable in understanding my clients and their issues as well as being a great laboratory for validating how effective Radio can be in small market America.
    All Radio, like politics, is local..and, frankly, any owner group who thinks they'll be really sucessful without live local people on the air and live local people on the street should fire their accountants and go out and start knocking on doors themselves and actually have to ask for the beans they hire people to count. Oops, sorry for the soap box thing.
    Selling Radio for me started on the air which provided name recognition when I walked in the door. And other than some commercials and cameo appearance now, I haven't been on the air for a couple decades and the customers still remember...does that speak to Radio's ability to create memorability?
    And here's a cute testament: When she was little, our daughter, Lauren, used to go to sleep listening to tapes of "Lets Pretend" sponsored by Cream of Wheat. One day when she and her mom were shopping the cereal aisle, Lauren piped up with: "Mom, Lets get some Cream of Wheat. It's a fine family cereal!"
    That's probably a big factor in why I love working in this industry, we get our client's name in people's memory and keep it there.
    • 19 posts
    September 4, 2009 7:59 AM PDT
    I started pursuing my marketing degree shortly after I moved to the area. I wanted to move into a more professional line of work to start taking the steps into my career. I had never been in a sales position before either. So I was really entering outside of my comfort zone. The position I now hold was advertised as a marketing partner on the radio stations in my town. I was so excited to work in my degree field. I didn't know much about radio when I started, but I knew my creativity would be a valuable asset in this position. My goal is to one day hold a position in a company as their marketing person. I feel what I do now is like boot camp for the larger company in the future. I work with so many different types of businesses generating ideas,market research, and I get to see what radio can do for a business. November 1st will be only two years in radio, but I am floored at how much you learn each day. I also like watching the relationships I build with clients get better and better. So the plan may be to head a marketing office for a large company. . . but radio still has my heart for now.
    • 17 posts
    September 4, 2009 8:18 AM PDT
    It was a total fluke. I was at university... it was probably 1985. I met a young lady at a party who was the Sales Manager for a carrier current AM commercial station on campus. The station was soley supported by advertising dollars, unlike our FM university sister station, who had all the bells and whistles. Well nearly 25 years later and many steps up the ladder, I still love it!!
    • 1236 posts
    September 4, 2009 8:26 AM PDT
    From RSC member Ian Blair-Simmonds: I moved to Scotland in 1989 determined to chill out & enjoy some quality time after working for 15 years as a debt collector & Management Consultant in Manchester in my own company. I have been a part time musician for most of my life, so was really enjoying myself in a semi retired state.I started presenting a show on our local radio station. It was called "The Soul Train" this ran for three years. My wife was the financial director at the time, & the station was struggling to pay the two employees wages. It was my wife's fault !!!!! She asked me if I would help out, I said yes But only on a commission basis. The problems were very obvious. The station manager at that time was a local man who knew everyone & tried to please all his friends by giving advertising away. The sales manager was a hairdresser by trade and didn't have a clue about sales & planning. Within two weeks the sales manager had left and I took over. It was a major challenge as the then station manager tried everything to get rid of me. 9 years later our sales have increased by 500% & I have a new station manager. I love the job . Its not just sales, I do the scripting/design & production of adverts. I love the whole concept of radio advertising, the meeting of people,The planning,and of course the chase.Long may it continue..
    • 2 posts
    September 4, 2009 8:50 AM PDT
    I started out in 1980 on the programming side and quickly discovered that I didn't have the talent to make any money. The entire Radio business is a passion of mine so the natural segue was into sales where I've been ever since.
    • 4 posts
    September 4, 2009 9:19 AM PDT
    The GM here at the studio's tried to recruit me 5 years ago. I just wasn't sure it was right for me. Fastforward five years later to when I took a job here in Administration/Traffic. The sales/marketing staff began coming to me to help them write copy and anytime I was out in the community and noticed a business that wasn't on the radio, I asked them "Why not Radio?". Eventually, a position in sales opened up and at the encouragement of a co-worker, I threw my hat in the ring. Now our GM has what she calls her "Dream Team" and I am loving every second of the job. Yes, even when a client says no or has to cancel. I just see that as more of a challenge to overcome and those who know me best, know that I never back down from a challenge or look for the easy way out. I find a way to make it happen and do my own personal best to get there.
    • 54 posts
    September 4, 2009 9:26 AM PDT
    As a teen in San Antonio, TX, I was mezmerized by the huge "remote" units used by the Rock & Roll AM stations. I watched like a kid in a candy store. They actually were spinning records! :)

    I went to UT in Austin in the Radio/TV/Film department and met lots of folks in Radio. I wanted to be a news guy and practiced like crazy.

    I got my first full time job as a news person in Austin at a station that was located in a strip shopping center. The news room was by the front door and you could see everyone coming and going. I watched daily as the sales guys (all men back then) went to lunch together. They wore suits and drove nice cars. As I watched, I was eating out of a brown paper bag.

    One of them left and I applied. The manager said I didn't have the personality for sales. I wrote him a note of thanks and suggested that it was probably good that he hadn't hired me since I would surely show up the other sellers. Within a week, I was in sales and was reading the yellow pages.
  • September 4, 2009 9:30 AM PDT
    I went to Ball State Univ. to study science...hated some of the courses. A friend asked "what did you like to do in high school? I said... "be a ham", he said maybe you should take some radio classes. I was going to be a DJ, back when DJ was used. I did the micro rural town radio gig in Ohio for about a year. Working holidays,weekends, all the days when the office was closed. I wasn't happy so I quit and went back to my hometown and worked in a RV hardware warehouse(my college years job). Saw an ad about a year later in the local paper "Account Executive" Wanted (still have the ad), I thought... why not interview get the foot in the door and slide back on the air. Funny thing happened...I got some actual training...and was forced to listen to Zig Zigler tapes. Next thing I know... my favorite phrase was "Radio is my life!". 31 years later...I wouldn't change a thing. I love this business...even if at this time in my career we are in the worst recession in 30 years. I still have a passion for this business..."Radio Is My Life!"
    • 6 posts
    September 4, 2009 9:44 AM PDT
    I never did radio sales. It's bad enough that all of the women in the world reject me, I'm not giving guys a shot at me too.... :)
    • 50 posts
    September 4, 2009 9:45 AM PDT
    Enjoyed the story and personal history, Dad!
    • 8 posts
    September 4, 2009 10:01 AM PDT
    After being a cake decorator for a bakery for 15 years and then working for a Womens Crisis Center, I needed something else and wanted to go in different direction with my life. Just on a whim I applied at KATQ, and was told the GM was retiring. 2 weeks later I was hired as a part timer on weekends and 9, going on 10 years later I am General Manager and Sales Manager. I love the challenge and the variety of people I have been able to meet.
    Bonnie Simon
    KATQ radio