RAB and VCU Brand Center: Incubating the Next Generation of Radio Creatives



The audience for radio is constantly expanding. In 2008, it increased by over 3 million listeners. Unfortunately, advertising revenue decreased for the year, and the creative pool that generates the ads is shrinking.

Enter the VCU BrandCenter and the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB)*, which are collaborating on the establishment of the Brandcenter’s  first radio-advertising curriculum. Andrew Hampp, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing at Advertising Week, brings us the money quotes from Jeff Haley (president/CEO f the RAB) and Rick Boyko from the VCU BrandCenter in his latest post on AdAge:

Creative is a long-standing problem with our business, because for too long it’s been relegated to the back benches of the major creative agency teams,” [Haley] said. “Radio represents what I call working media. It’s very efficient, very effective, and we’re certainly seeing a renewed emphasis on working media going into 2009. We want radio creative to be at the forefront of that.”

Rick Boyko, managing director of the VCU BrandCenter, echoed Mr. Haley’s thoughts on radio’s perceived obsolescence. “It’s still a terrific medium that’s been underleveraged creatively. A lot of agency creatives would rather work in the digital space or on TV than really focus on radio,” he said. “One of the challenges is to get people to want to write for radio in a much bigger way. Instead of it being, ‘We’ll do this campaign, and we’ll do TV spot X, Y and Z,’ radio can sometimes be the key driver.”

This is a great step forward in my opinion. As new generations of creatives come up through the educational system they will now have a viable introduction to the art of  “on-air” creative. The RAB will be donating a quarter million dollars ($50K per year for five years) to ensure that they have the opportunity and resources. Couple that funding with the array of creatives available to mentor them at the VCU BrandCenter and the RAB’s relationship with the Radio Mercury Awards and a potent gestalt begins to take shape.

The audience continues to grow. It is up to us to help nurture those who will bring our medium into the future. It is my hope that this curriculum will help us to boldly go where no creative has gone before!

*Transparency Note: The VCU BrandCenter is heavily involved in the Radio Heard Here campaign of which this blog is a part. Radio Heard Here is a joint effort of the NAB, RAB, and HD Radio Alliance. For more info please see our About page.

Photo courtesy of Mark Sebastian, used under its Creative Commons license


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2 Responses to “RAB and VCU Brand Center: Incubating the Next Generation of Radio Creatives”

  1. Rod Schwartz Says:

    All other factors being equal, better commercials mean better results for the advertiser. We all assent to this. But how many of us actually back it up by regularly investing in the training and infrastructure needed to provide good commercials?

    I was just discussing with someone today one of Radio’s perceived advantages: copywriting and production are generally provided to the advertiser at no additional charge. The words of Thomas Paine have come back to haunt us: “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

    This free “service” of ours is like the scorpion: its sting is in the tail. The end result far too often is superficially conceived, hastily written cliche ridden drivel that fails to inform, inspire, persuade, motivate or sell anything.

    And yet, excellent resources are readily available and affordable. Today they’re accessible even to the smallest stations (and advertisers) in the most isolated markets. Even a modest investment of money, time, and effort can yield disproportionate results for advertisers, listeners and the station.

    In recent years the RAB’s annual Radio-Mercury Awards competition also has provided both inspiration and aspiration to producers of radio advertising, not only at the agency level, but at the station level, as I can attest personally. But things have been strangely silent there the past few weeks, given the time of year. When the 2009 Call for Entries is given, I hope that a record number of stations will submit their best work in an effort to further the one of the goals of the RMAs: the creation of better Radio advertising for the benefit of our advertisers and industry.

  2. George Williams Says:

    Hey Rod,

    thanks for the insightful analysis! I also share our hope of seeing a record number of entries for the Mercury this year, better creative is incredibly important in the ongoing battle for mindshare.

    Tell everyone at GraceBroadcast I send my best!

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