Trump, Clinton, and Jeb! All Betting Big on Radio Commercials

Feb 22, 2016

This January, Time magazine declared "Radio is a different kind of battlefield."

While radio advertising might not be as sexy as social media or television, in the digital age, it's one of the widest reaching forms of mass media in the world. And while you'll find all the major presidential candidates on social media, candidates are spending tens of millions of dollars on radio commercials during this election year.

In a previous blog post, we reported that the one and only Donald Trump chose radio for his campaign's first-ever commercials all the way back in November.

Why does radio have such a strong appeal for politicians like Trump and Bernie Sanders alike?    

commercial“You can do some targeting on television, especially on cable, but nothing like you can do on radio, where the demographics of the listeners are so much more tightly targeted than even on cable television,” Hendrix College professor Jay Barth told Time.

As of 2015 there were more than 13,500 radio stations in the U.S., covering more than 40 different formats of radio production. After a century of popularity, radio is still the second most powerful mass medium in the country, reaching into the lives of 59% of Americans every day and 90% every week. So it's easy to see why radio commercial production remains such an integral part of modern political campaigning.

So how are the disparate 2016 presidential candidates spending their radio ad dollars this year?

The main Hillary Clinton Super PAC, Priorities USA, is currently busy trying to turn out the South Carolina primary vote, where they've spent $500,000 on new radio ads. On the other side of the aisle, Jeb Bush has tapped his big brother George W. Bush, who remains very popular in South Carolina, for a new radio ad. Jeb Bush's mortal enemy, Donald Trump, is also calling on family members to help with his audio production projects. Trump recently featured the voice talents of his daughter, Ivanka, in new radio commercials.

So if you're one of the lucky Americans who doesn't live in one of the early primary states, it's only a matter of time before all those political commercials start flooding your neighborhood as well. Just don't expect to escape them by turning off the TV and turning on the radio...