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Bill Scott “Fixing The Product Equals Donations”

I often watch radio stations pour money into buildings, towers, new frequencies, and other items within their ministry while pulling back on on-air personalities. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are important. However, I am seeing more and more stations focused on those types of things while spending less and less with their on-air product.

I am sure you have noticed more and more stations going with voice trackers throughout the day. I know of stations where there are only two to three hours of live radio each day and yet they are wondering why they are not hitting their fundraising goals. If you pull back on your product don’t be surprised when listeners pull back on giving.


As you know, I am always doing a fundraiser somewhere. I can tell by a fundraiser what air shifts are tracked, how? because funding goes through the floor, every time without fail.


I can hear some saying, Bill, do you know how many big mainstream stations are voice tracking their main day-parts, even morning drive? Yes, I am aware of that, but don’t compare your non-profit to a for-profit radio station. You are not comparing apples to apples. A commercial station only needs the ratings. They don’t have to connect or be your best friend. If you listen, they can go sell their product to advertisers. There is nothing wrong with that. As a non-profit you can have a great cume, but unless you have connected with them, they will not give during your fundraiser.


I am seeing more and more nonprofits stopping down during their mid-days to only twice an hour. How are you able to connect with an audience at a heart level with two stop-downs each hour? I know, you are saying Bill, that builds cume, and we want more listeners don’t we?. I don’t disagree it can increase your cume, but it won’t equal dollars during your fundraiser because the connection is not there.


I remember years ago going to a radio station that had a large cume, up in the six figures and yet they couldn’t raise very much money during their fundraiser. Why? They hadn’t connected with their listeners. A week before going to the big station, I went to a smaller station with a 70,000 cume and they raised over $700,000 for a six-month fundraiser compared to the big station that raised $100,000. If it’s all about ratings, cume AND connection!


Years ago, if you had a CCM station in your city, it was like winning the lottery and you could raise money with no problem. Those stations were the only way for listeners to even know about CCM. Today, everyone has access to CCM and they don’t need your station. If you are all music, with little connection from the DJ, you will lose to Spotify and other streaming services. It’s not about the music anymore. Yes, folks want to hear great music but it’s at their fingertips and they can put a playlist together that they enjoy more than your station. Let’s face it, radio stations don’t even take requests today.


So how do you win? By building community by having the best personalities you can find. A good personality will not only connect to your listeners but raise a ton of money when they open the mic during your fundraiser because they have their community ready to give.

If your main shows are voice-tracked, don’t plan on growing your fundraiser, in many cases you’ll see that fundraiser decline.


Saving money on a voice tracker might be the most expensive thing your radio station does all year. I am not saying there are no places to use voice trackers or a syndicated show but many have become lazy and have tried to save money. This will work for about 18 months and then you’ll see your fundraisers begin to decline in most cases.

Yes, by all means, buy buildings, and new frequencies but make your personalities a priority if you want to grow. You can only beat Apple, Spotify, Pandora, and other streaming services if you have a community that touches the heart of your audience.


It’s time to step up our game if you want to grow financially.

Bill Scott is Chief Content Officer with Vidare Creative / www.VidareCreative.com. Contact Bill at bill@vidarecreative.com

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