Presidential Candidates Are Turning To Radio in Iowa and South Carolina

Radio is allowing Presidential Candidates to better target specific demographics through radio according to Time Magazine.


Updated Jan 26, 2016

In a lengthy news story, Time magazine explores what it deems “The Political Ad War You Haven’t Heard About,” explaining how “radio is a different kind of campaign battlefield.” In addition to lower costs, radio ads allow presidential candidates to target specific audiences.

Perhaps more importantly, radio ads “also allow campaigns to keep other audiences from hearing those messages,” Time points out.

Marvin Overby, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, notes that political ads on radio “tend to be more pointed, oftentimes more controversial. If they got broader coverage, [they] might spark some blowback from parts of the constituency.”

An example is Donald Trump’s new ad airing in Iowa and South Carolina featuring evangelical leader Jerry Fallwell Jr., which cites a Bible verse, as Inside Radio reported Friday. Time reports, “The ad hints at a potential endorsement that would go a long way in shoring up votes with the Christian conservative voting bloc that Trump is reaching out to in both states. Airing it on Christian radio stations avoids overplaying the message to audiences that might not be interested.”

Likewise, ahead of the recent Democratic debate in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton ran a radio ad featuring Rev. Donnie Hunt, a black associate minister at a Baptist church in the state.

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

Because radio ads hit a narrowly defined audience, candidates can worry less about whether the ad will offend, Time concludes.

Inside Radio