Radio’s Greatest Weakness Is Its Greatest Strength

Selling Radio Direct with Pat Bryson

“I can’t measure radio advertising.” Ever heard that? 

Radio results can be hard to trace because we reach consumers even when they don’t know they are being reached.  So, they can’t attribute why they come to a certain shop to having heard it on the air.  Now, we have factual data that proves that our greatest weakness is really our greatest strength.

Mindshare, Neurensics and a Dutch radio station released the results of a study on how radio advertising works on the brains of consumers.  They found that commercial messages absorbed subconsciously while listening non-consciously are capable of creating brand associations that last long after the advertising itself is forgotten.  

98% of what enters the human ear is absorbed non-consciously

25 test subjects aged 20-49 had their brain activity scanned while they were being exposed to radio ads. The subjects were told they were participating in a language study and were instructed to do several tasks.  Some were simple, but others were more difficult.

These difficult tasks required concentration and relegated the radio listening to more of a background activity and thus created non-conscious listening.  The study concluded that the way in which a radio commercial message enters the brain determines how it is processed. 

While listening consciously, the listener is more likely to listen critically.  When listening non-consciously while the brain is distracted, the message is more likely to “soak in” uncontested.  The commercial message does register. 

Background listening is effective in reinforcing and strengthening existing brand associations and can influence brand selection.  Call-to-action messaging will be more impactful when consumers are consciously listening. 

We reach consumers even when they don’t know they are being reached!


About The Author 

Pat Bryson is the founder of Bryson Broadcasting International, a consulting firm that works with radio stations around the world to increase revenue by raising the skill level of their sales staffs. Her client list spans from the United States to Canada, Europe and Central Asia.

Pat has spent her entire career creating a culture of over-achievement for her stations. She began her career in radio sales, becoming one of the highest billing sales people in her market. Her career advanced to General Sales Manager, and then to Market Manager. Since starting BBI 7 years ago, she has helped hundreds of radio stations to find, train and grow great quality sales people and managers.

Pat was the recipient of two prestigious educational fellowships from the Educational Foundation of the National Association of Broadcasters: a fellowship to the Executive Development Program and a fellowship to the Broadcast Leadership Training Program.

She publishes the Bryson Broadcasting International Newsletter twice monthly and is a contributor to Valerie Geller’s latest book, Beyond Powerful Radio: A Communicator’s Guide To The Internet Age.

You may contact Pat at [email protected] or visit her website at