Many of us think of Radio as the media that we listen to in our cars. And Streaming audio is what we listen to on our phone. While there are differences between the two, radio – terrestrial or streaming, are both effective ways to communicate advertising. If you think radio can deliver your message (it probably can), both should be considered.

Why Radio

With so many advertising options why consider radio in the first place? Every week more Americans tune to AM/FM radio than any other platform. In fact, 93% of Americans 18+ listen to radio. That is more than watch TV, or use a smartphone or computer. So, Radio has tremendous Reach. Radio is a very personal media, with many of us listening by ourselves in the car or on our phone. Listeners develop a bond with their favorite stations and on-air personalities. There is a trust factor. It is also an “everywhere” media, with listening in the car, on the go, in the office and at home.

Radio is a very flexible media. Ads can be as short as two seconds, what are often called ad-lets, and as long as sixty seconds. This allows for different kind of messaging at different price points. Another advantage of radio is “recency”, as it is often the last media a person hears before entering a store or business. At its best, radio is “theater of the mind” creating mental images and beliefs of products and services that move consumers.

Streaming Radio

Most of us are familiar with traditional over-the-air radio. Many have heard of streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. Those services provide streaming radio either free or by subscription. The free versions, which have more listeners, play commercials to generate revenue. The subscription service charges a monthly fee. Even the free version requires the user to provide basic demographic information. Almost all traditional radio stations have a streaming version, which airs commercials.

Another way to buy streaming radio is from a radio company. One example would be to buy from IHeart radio. The advantage with buying from a radio group is that you are no longer buying a station. Instead, you are buying a demographic. If you were to buy Lite-FM you would reach their listeners. Buying from the parent company you could buy women 25-44 and you would reach that demographic across all of their stations, increasing your Reach. Another advantage of buying from the group is you can be more granular with your geography, targeting county and zip codes.

Streaming can also be bought from websites, such as and They are worth mentioning because is the default stream on Alexa, and is popular on Alexa as well.

Tactical Uses

We no longer think of terrestrial and streaming as two different platforms, instead they are different products that have different strategic uses. If you have a very definitive demographic (i.e. Women 25-44) then you may want to buy streaming. A car dealer buying Adults 25-54 is happy to reach 60 year olds, they buy cars. Terrestrial makes sense for them. An advertiser whose target audience straddles two radio markets may not be able to afford both markets, streaming might make more sense in that case. For the marketer who reaches seventy percent of their target in a single market terrestrial should be the first consideration.

Radio -terrestrial or streaming, remains a strong, viable advertising media even in a shelter-at-home environment. Even now, 28% of Adults are listening to more radio. As with any marketing effort define your objective, your target audience, geography, and budget, then start your media decision-making. If you follow those guidelines you might be surprised how often radio fits your marketing plans.