Radio Hed: Production Parity

radio-hed-logo1By Jeffrey Hedquist

The average production budget for a national television commercial is over two hundred thousand dollars. Some can cost more than a million. The average production cost for a national radio commercial is less than one-tenth the cost of television production.

The effectiveness of a television spot is very often dependent on the dollars that go into producing it. Television is a more passive medium. They’re not just telling you the story, they’re showing you the visuals, and those visuals cost a fortune to produce. It’s much less expensive (and more effective) to let the listeners create their own visuals on radio.

With radio, the audiences’ imaginations do the work, have the fun—if it’s well crafted. On radio the best storytellers win. It’s definitely a writer’s medium. The concept in a radio spot has much more power than the concept in a television spot.

A television commercial with a great concept without the production dollars to pull it off will fall flat. Viewers used to high production values don’t distinguish between a local commercial and a national commercial. They just know that they paid attention to one and ignored the other.

On radio, a great concept doesn’t need a huge budget to make it work. For pennies, a few well-crafted words presented by a single well-chosen voice can out-pull the most lavishly expensive radio commercial in the world. Writing radio is not easy, but it’s the place where the idea can rise above production value and can triumph.

I may be preaching to the choir here, but it’s a good reminder that radio’s playing field is much more level. You and your clients should rejoice. Please, use the power for good.

© 1999 Hedquist Productions, Inc.