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

    • 1262 posts
    December 10, 2010 12:12 AM PST

    Happy Friday, everyone!


    It's been well over a year since we've asked this question, and since so many members have joined RSC in the meantime, we wanted to revisit 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?

    We'd love to hear your story . . . please share it with us!

    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at January 10, 2019 9:10 PM PST
    • 83 posts
    December 10, 2010 5:20 AM PST

    I actually chose advertising sales.  Many years ago I was a weekend announcer.  One time I came in during the week and noticed a lot of nice cars in the lot, and people in suits in their own offices.  I asked who they were and was told that they were the salespeople-the ones who worked with the businesses that advertised on our stations.  (I didn't know the station had salespeople!)  I asked my father if where he worked, anyone from our station called on them and he said yes, and so I asked him what they did, and he said that the person brought in ideas about how they should advertise on the station, etc.  I thought, "I can do that."  So after graduating with a degree in marketing, I sought out and got a job in radio advertising sales.  That was 1970.  I've advanced some since, but I still work with local - direct clients every day.

  • December 10, 2010 5:51 AM PST

    I was programming a small market station when my wife became pregnant.  I went to the GM and explained that she and I were expecting and asked for a raise.  His response, "Well, I can't really give you a raise to be our programmer, but seeing how you've been doing a good job soliciting prizes for our on-air promotions, I think you'd be a great sales manager.  And, I can give you a nice salary with override."  There you have it.  I was an instant sales manager!  Thanks to desire, and the RAB, I learned quite a bit in a short period of time and never looked back.  Although my heart has always remained on the programming side, I've had quite a ride in sales and sales management.  Thanks to that GM, I've been able to craft a very decent living and he helped pave the way for me gaining enough experience to open up my own consultancy.

    • 3 posts
    December 10, 2010 6:02 AM PST
    I followed my dad into the business. He was a full-time teacher and part-time DJ. I wasn't going to be a teacher.
    After I got married I needed more income. I tried to find DJ work in nearby larger market but I wasn't really that good and couldn't land a gig so I took a job in Alabama announcing and selling. It opened the door to management and ownership.
    So I guess reality of life led be to sales.
  • December 10, 2010 6:20 AM PST

    I guess you could say its in my blood!  My father got into radio (programming/announcing) at the age of 16 and later moved on to sales.  So without even knowing it the whole time i was growing up i was being subliminaly tought the tricks of the trade. My father later became General Manager for the Best Broadcast Group (family of 6 radio stations) and when i turned 16 of course I was looking for a job.  So naturally I applied for a job with KZBK (our local station) and got hired on as a programmer/announcer!  Doing work such as daily weather forecast, programming logs, producing ads, etc...  I also worked for McDonalds as most of the youth in this area do, so from the time that i was 16 untill now i have always had 2 or more jobs.  When i quit McDonalds and went to fedex (after i graduated) their was about a 6 hour gap in my day where i could have been working and making more money.  I had to find a way to fill that gap, and bring in some extra cash so hinted to my father several times that I would be interested in getting into sales!  It took a bit, but eventually he allowed me to take on sales as a telemarketer, who makes personal visits from time to time.  Been selling ever since!

    • 3 posts
    December 10, 2010 6:23 AM PST

    After spending 17 years as on air talent, program director, production director, operations manager, and a couple of years out of radio working for a multi national corporation, then back to radio as an on air personality, part time sales. Then after getting caught in a station sale and downsizing.. the only job available in my market was sales. That was 25 years ago...

    As they say the rest is history...I never really ever set out to do it ... but I guess sometimes you never really know how your career will end up... I finallly decided that I would rather be rich than famous..

    • 11 posts
    December 10, 2010 6:34 AM PST

    I guess it found me, but I do have an interesting story. My husband and I own a small Cafe on Cape Cod, and as a business owner I started to do some advertising on the radio in late 2008 when the economy began to 'tank' in our area. I had a great marketing consultant who became a great in mid 2009 when I lost my job as an IT Director...she suggested that I apply for a position as a marketing consultant at their station group. I am not only a marketing consultant but also a client! This personal first hand experience comes in quite handy when I'm speaking to other small business owners in our market!  

    • 74 posts
    December 10, 2010 7:11 AM PST

    My career in radio has spanned 40+ years and started full time in 1968 as an announcer/traffic/continuity writer. I gravitated into the news/sports department and after 17 years left radio to take a sales job in another sector of the community.  I came back to radio about two years later with the same station as a salesman.  At first I just sold our AM station and over the next twenty years added both of our FM's.

    I was in my second job when I had a visit from a friend who had taken my spot as news director.  He told me about a sales job that had opened up.  I jumped at the chance and the rest, as they say, is history.  I took semi retirement this year.  I work part time at the three stations doing continuity and other part time work with the sales department.  I also act as a back up for several of our "talk" shows.  It's a great way to stay involved, etc.  And it's been a great career.





    • 44 posts
    December 10, 2010 7:41 AM PST

    I applied for a secretary position and the GM thought I would be better suited in the sales department.  22 years later still in sales. 

    • 111 posts
    December 10, 2010 7:45 AM PST

    Radio saved me from retail drudgery. I was managing a chain drug store and the radio station offices were above us in the same building. The GM and AE's were always coming downstairs for coffee and started bugging me about switching jobs. I was reluctant to leave the security blanket of a salaried paycheck, but after a couple of years of 80 hour work weeks and no raise, I took the plunge. Made more money my first year in sales than I had my entire retail career. Haven't looked back since.

    • 30 posts
    December 10, 2010 7:48 AM PST


    The first ten years of my career was in programming.  I was tired of getting up at 3:30 AM, and working 6 day schedules.  Starting a family, I knew that sales was the way to go.  One Friday after my airshift I asked my GM to go into sales.  The following Monday I was a street seller.  I dont regret it.


    • 29 posts
    December 10, 2010 8:01 AM PST

    I ended up in sales by default.  I host and produce a weekly syndicated outdoors radio show that is expanding across the Northwest.  I came to realize I lacked sales skills and have also been underselling my product.  I was thrilled to find Radio Sales Cafe, a forum and website that has helped me grow as a salesman!




    • 41 posts
    December 10, 2010 8:53 AM PST

    When I wet to college in San Diego I received my BA in communications included classes on advertising and PR.  After graduating I worked a warehouse job, it inluded buying being involved in purchasing, including a very limited amount of media buying.  From There I went into outside sales in a couple of other industries.  A few years later I moved to eastern Montana where I had a lot of family.  The small town that I moved to has a radio station that has a regional reach.  I walked in and met the owner of the stand alone Country format AM, KFLN.  Almost 10 years later my kids were moved to Western Washington and was able to come to work for Grays Harbor Radio in Aberdeen.  It has been a great 17 years in radio and I dont see moving to any other industry. 

    • 2 posts
    December 10, 2010 9:48 AM PST

    My husband & I owned a small business that we knew wasn't going to survive the recession. I had always written my own commercials and knew that radio worked. I was looking to find some other line of work when I heard an advertisement on the radio for a sales person. I knew right away that it would be a perfect fit. I already had developed great relationships with the business community and was well know in the local Chamber of Commerce. When I started I never had that I have a new job awkwardness that you usually experience. I love my job and I know I will be here for a long long time.

    • 135 posts
    December 10, 2010 2:02 PM PST

    I was 19 years old. Heard an ad on the radio that the station was hiring a salesperson. I knew I wouldnt get hired because I was so young, but figured it would be good interview experience. Low and behold I got the job and LOVED it!!  11 years later.. I still love it! :)

    • 14 posts
    December 12, 2010 1:50 AM PST

    I was part time as the AM jock, then going on to my "real" job working for GE Financial Assurance. In May 2003, my team at GEFA was advised our department was being outsourced to India so we were left with no jobs.  I stopped by the station on the way to file for unemployment. My boss..whom I have known and respected for 27 of my 30 years in radio, said there was nothing full time on air, but I could sell advertising. I had never sold advertising before in my life!  He sat me down and gave me a 15 minute lesson in what to do. I went out and after 30 minutes sold my first small contract.  I am now the top seller and I still do it part time. My priority is production director and promotions director for our two stations. I do all my sales from inside.


    • 456 posts
    December 13, 2010 7:12 AM PST

    I have a B.S. in Communications (seems appropriate). I worked 13 years on-air then left to do marketing and PR for a city in TN. I NEVER wanted to go back to radio. As my job with the city grew, I began looking for new revenue sources and started to put together major sponsorship packages, exclusive pouring rights deals with soft drink companies, and a naming rights deal for a minor league baseball stadium. After 17 years, I got downsized and began looking for a job. My wife kept saying, "Try radio sales. Your a good idea man and a good writer." Finally, I listened to her and it's been the best decision I've ever made.

  • December 13, 2010 12:59 PM PST

    Hey there RSC members!

    It was winter of 98 in frigid Duluth, Mn.  I was working for Georgia Pacific making hardboard.  My wife was getting sick of the 12 hour shift work and so was I.  It was dark when I entered the plant and  daark when I left.  I knew that I did not want to do that for the rest of my life.


    On my way home after a long midnight shift,  I was listening to my favorite station "Rock 102.5 the Bear".  As the station went into break from the "Bob and Tom Show"  I heard someone ask the question..."Do you know what the best thing about selling radio is?"  He answered his own question with a resounding "everything"!


    That man would become my first Sales Manager and the man that shared is true love and passion for radio with me.  Jim Brown.  I called and left him 7 messages that morning.


    When he called me back he said "well you certainaly have the tenacity for this business,  Come in for an interview.


    When I got the job there was no turning back!!

    I LOVE RADIO!!!!

    • 1048 posts
    December 14, 2010 2:03 PM PST

    Wow - great story, Mike.  It runs counter to the experience of many of us "accidental salespeople" (borrowing from Chris Lytle's book on the subject), who backed into the career.  Thanks for sharing it!


    • 1048 posts
    December 14, 2010 2:07 PM PST



    Wow!  Talk about instant and powerful credibility - what a great story!!

    • 1048 posts
    December 14, 2010 4:52 PM PST

    Based on your contributions to discussions here, Lynn, I'd say you've taken to radio like a duck to water.  Congratulations - and best wishes for your continued growth and success!

    • 1048 posts
    December 14, 2010 4:56 PM PST


    It's great to hear back from you and to learn that RSC has been a valuable resource to you.  Glad you're making the most of it!


    • 1048 posts
    December 14, 2010 6:18 PM PST


    What great perspective you must have, working on air, managing programming, writing copy, and doing production...all before getting into sales.  Neat background!


    • 14 posts
    December 17, 2010 6:02 AM PST

    How did I get into Radio?


    It’s a long story but I will try to make it short. I started out in business very young working for a local franchise of CD Exchange stores all over Iowa, got tired of the owners poor advertising techniques and ultimately bought the place a year after my start date. I used Local Radio to revive the business.

    I then moved on to opening a few dozen wireless franchise stores using Local Radio as my marketing platform and success was explosive. I sold it to a local business owner who did not believe in local radio, he is now running a consolidated operation.

    The next step in my life I purchased a business brokership firm and became very involved with the acquisition and deal mending with many local businesses. There was a very odd pattern with people selling. The businesses that were selling because of financial difficulties did not have a marketing strategy. I worked closely as a strategist to get them optimum dollar for their companies and it always involved local radio.


    You see a pattern?


    I then met whom I consider a great radio broadcaster and good friend at a time where my schedule was taking over my life. My 3 kids were growing like weeds and I was missing it all. God blessed me to put local radio and him in my life at that very moment. A radio broadcaster that would call me everyday at close of business to make sure that I was on my way home to see my family. Local Radio is a way of life. The road was lit on fire then! Sales comes natural to me as it does to most salespeople, I am in love with local radio and am now considered a lifer. Advertising sales makes EVERYTHING we do possible in our communities.


    To continued Success,

    • 21 posts
    December 17, 2010 6:12 AM PST

    Well I stumble upon it.  I got a job as intern in the traffic department I did the commision statements it didn't take me too long to figure out where the money in radio was and the rest is history!