How to make memorable radio

Memorable radio: Loudness Vs Memorable

Have you ever watched a programme on the TV, or heard an advert in a shop radio and felt like reaching for the remote control to turn down the volume. Annoying isn’t it?

This is mainly because the adverts have been mastered/recorded in a different way to the programme or film you have been watching.  Unfortunately producers of TV and radio advertisement have entered into a loudness war. Why? To make their clients commercials sound louder and better than the rest, but does loud really mean better?

If you can remember some of your favourite TV commercials from yesteryear like the Mash advert listed below you’ll notice that these commercials were not loud at all. Especially in comparison to today’s TV ads.

So, does loud = better? Well, in my humble opinion – no! Of course it plays its part but it isn’t everything.

For me,  the commercial should always be memorable. And not for all the wrong reasons either, if I had a pound for every time somebody said, ‘ I hate that annoying advert, but it’s memorable so it must have worked’.

So, if you had an annoying neighbour who constantly made your life hell would you be their friend?

And that’s just it, radio is the listeners friend. If it annoys them with irritating commercials or presenters that don’t appeal to it’s audience, people will turn them off, sometimes not literally either, people have an in-built mute switch which makes them subconsciously not listen to something they’re not interested in. I think it was possibly something we learned when we was teenagers. Ha ha…

So, how do we make a radio advert memorable?

Firstly,  you start with the person in mind that you are talking to. What do they do on a weekly basis, where does that person spend their money, where do they socialise, what are their likes and dislikes. Once you build up a profile of this person you can think about some ideas that will make them sit up and listen.

When a radio presenter preps his or her show they will always have the listener in mind, making sure that their content is relevant to the listener. Once the content is chosen it’s all about telling the story. Be it funny, sad or scary – people love a story that connects with their lives in an interestingly imaginative way.

As an example I’m going to pick a Pension company who wishes to target young people. The voice I’m going to use is a 20 year old male, this may seem ridiculous. Especially if the person is not at retirement age, but believe or not pensions are actually aimed at the young not the old.

So, here is our scene, the young male talks about how great his life is right now and how taking out a pension is just not for him, let’s be honest he’s young. Then, half way through the commercial something happens…


Young male voice:
I’m 20 years old, I don’t need a pension, ever! Pension, ya having a laugh arn’t ya. It’ll be years until I retire.

Older male voice:
I’m 70 now and if I knew now what I didn’t know then I’d have saved some money to enjoy the rest of my life. I can’t afford my own place anymore, so I live with my daughter’s family. I have no savings and still have to work to get by, is this the future I wanted, no! but I was young like you and thought I’d be young for the rest of my life.

It’s too late for me but there’s still time for you.


Obviously, this is just an example of how good story telling can engage with it’s audience in a memorable way. The young person that it’s aimed at (the listener) can relate to the young man in the advert as they feel a connection with both him and the older version of his younger self. What makes this advert memorable is how it connects with our emotional kinetic feelings about being young and growing old.

To sum up, what makes memorable radio is good story telling, cast well and well written.

For more details and advice about radio advertisement or to take a listen to some samples, please don’t hesitate to check out our radio advertisement page on our website.

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