Radio Advertising Cost in the United States: What to Expect

Radio Advertising Cost in the United States: What to Expect

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If you want to reach a particular target group, the best way to do so is to use radio advertising. After all, radio is one of the most popular media in the US. You have the opportunity to reach your audience by advertising on the radio and playing a radio ad.

There are many customers who listen to the radio for hours on end during other activities. Of course, it is important to determine the elements that a good radio

of course, it is important to determine the elements that a good radio advertisement must respect and the costs involved. In this article, we will explain this in more detail.

How to Advertise on Radio?

Before we discuss radio advertising costs, we need to know how to advertise on the radio and create a compelling radio advertising campaign.

The message

When creating a radio ad spot, you must first determine the message you want to convey.

In doing so, you will see for yourself what you want to say to listeners. In particular, you can identify the problems that can be solved by the services or products you offer.

You need a text in proper English. This text should also be easy to read, but it does not have to be good text for a radio voice-over.

The second thing you can determine is your target audience. You need to identify the group of customers who could best use your product or service. You need to consider aspects of the customer such as gender, education level, and possibly income level.

If you already know the message you want to convey and the target group, you can start making your ad spot. You have the choice of doing an advertisement yourself or outsourcing it. There are many agencies that specialize in making radio adverts for companies and organizations.

In case you already have an ad, you can then select a station to advertise on. You can choose major national, regional, or local radio stations. Just think of stations like KBIG-FM, WTOP, KIIS-FM, and KBIG-FM, which altogether can attract millions of listeners daily.

2 types of radio ads

There are different radio ads you can use. For example, you can choose the standard ambient spoken ad or the ambient/dialogue radio ad. The last option you can use is a singing commercial.

Why Advertise on Radio?

One might ask, what is the added value of radio advertising?

How much does radio advertising cost? And wouldn’t it be better to take advantage of social media opportunities? These are all questions that entrepreneurs should consider.

Your audience plays an important role here. Some people are primarily active on social media, but there are also those who are more likely to listen to the radio and are not at all familiar or experienced with social media.

Radio is still a highly listened-to medium where there are a lot of ads. Radio technology has been around for over 100 years and its basic principles are still relevant today.

Today, you can also listen to the radio via the internet. This last point in particular means that due to a large number of listeners, the possibility of advertising on the radio (online) is widely used. This way you reach a larger target market and indirectly ensure the growth of your company.

The advantage of radio advertising is that on the one hand, it can be very cheap and on the other hand it gives you the opportunity to address the customer directly. Usually, there are enough listeners for the different radio programs and your radio advertisement always reaches the listeners directly this way.

Radio ads work for both conversions and brand awareness. You have a large reach and can therefore generate many more sales. It also means that such a radio advertising campaign allows you to increase your brand awareness.

The disadvantages

In addition to the advantages, there are some disadvantages to radio ads. Indeed, you should not forget that they only reach the listeners. The visual aspect is not taken into account. For some products, this works well.

However, for other product groups, you will need an advertisement where the audience can see the products in their image.

Also, you can only start with radio advertising when you have a commercial and, in most cases, a start-up budget.

Good advertising

How do you know if your radio ad production is good enough? You’ll only know if your ad actually works in practice. The most expensive radio ads don’t necessarily make the best ads.

However, there are some things you can consider beforehand. You will notice that in general, the best radio ads are the ones that are the clearest and most simple.

If you want to make a radio spot, you need to take this into account. Keep in mind that radio ads work. There are countless music, DJ, and other types of commercials, so your commercial will be catchy if it’s done right.

Especially if it’s a short radio ad that conveys a clear offer or calls to action. Besides, these ads are not very complicated to set up either.

How Much Does Radio Advertising Cost?

It is important for advertisers to know how much radio advertising costs. The amount you pay for a radio ad varies depending on time slots, type of ad, etc.

As a first step, you can sort radio stations by their audience, to reach the audience you are interested in. Some radios, like the Ashville Radio Group, made up of multiple radio stations, publish their media kit every year for each of their stations, with this kind of information.

radio advertising cost, asheville radio group media kit
benefits of radio advertising

Would you like to have someone else take care of your radio ad production or can you do it yourself? If you leave it to someone else, that will be the first cost.

If you already have a commercial, you will need to buy air time from a radio station. Again, the costs are not the same.

A large national radio station with a wider audience and more listeners will charge more than a provincial radio station.

The average cost per spot of a radio ad is between $200 and $5000 per week.  However, depending widely on location, you can find spots for as low as $5 or as high as $8000.

For example on The Grand, prices can vary depending on the day and time of broadcasting:

You can see that peak prices tend to be during the morning rush hour or later on in the day when people are done with work.

If you are looking for other rates, SiriusXM has also published their prices based on each show:

Costs of radio advertising by state

There is no clear indication of the costs of radio advertising per state. Generally speaking, the larger the state and population, the higher the price will be. For example, in states such as Illinois, California, or New York, you can find average prices from $4000 to $8000 per week.

However, in states such as Iowa, Michigan, and Virginia, you can find lower averages ranging between $200 and $1,500.

For your radio ad to work, you need to repeat it fairly regularly, but not too often. Ideally, a radio ad should be repeated eight to twelve times per campaign.

Note that you will have to pay more if the reach of the people is much greater.

Therefore, if you repeat it often enough, you will have to pay a higher advertising rate. This is why, in most cases, advertising on large stations is more expensive than on small stations.

Different radio stations have different costs

Once you start running radio ads, you’ll find that there are differences in rates between radio stations. For example, a regional station is less expensive than a large national radio station.

When choosing a radio station, in addition to price, you should always ask yourself if you will reach your target audience and recoup your investment within a certain time frame.


In the US, there are several radio stations where you can :

  • Opt for a voice-over,
  • Buy advertising,
  • Broadcast your advertising message by buying airtime.
  • Below is an overview of the top six radio stations in the US, along with their market share.

The top radio stations in New York are :

  1. WBLS-FM: 6.7 million listeners
  2. WLTW-FM: 6.7 million listeners
  3. WCBS-FM (classic hits): 5.7 million listeners
  4. WSKQ-FM (Spanish tropical): 5.1 million listeners
  5. WAXQ-FM: 4.6 million listeners

The UK also has some top radio stations. You can go there to broadcast radio ads.


Here are the top ten UK radio stations, with their number of listeners in millions:

  1. BBC Radio 2: 14.88
  2. BBC Radio 4: 10.48
  3. BBC Radio 1: 9.38
  4. Classic FM: 5.31
  5. BBC Radio 5 Live: 4.97
  6. Kiss: 4.05
  7. Magic: 3.44
  8. talkSPORT: 2.96
  9. Absolute Radio: 2.39
  10. BBC Radio 6 Music: 2.30

What is the Duration of a Radio Ad?

When creating a radio spot, you must take into account ad length. You need to be able to get your message across in a relatively short period of time. Usually, such a radio ad is divided into 5-second groups.

So there is a minimum of 5 seconds. If you plan to advertise on the radio for more than 5 seconds, you will be charged for 10 seconds. This is because the cost of a radio ad depends on the length of the spot. Standard radio ads are usually 20 seconds long.

How to Outsource Radio Advertising?

Advertisers have the option of buying radio ads. There are several ways to do this. For example, you can buy advertising through radio stations and media agencies.

Buying advertising through a radio station or media outlet means that you should be well-informed about the issue of radio advertising.

For example, you should know that you will not always get the appropriate campaign you had in mind. Or, if your target audience listens more to pop music and you end up on a classical station, they will certainly not advise you to go to WCBS-FM.

In some radio stations, advertising is even sold by the featured advertisers and not by the broadcasting company itself.

The second option is to buy advertising through media agencies. This is a method that most advertisers use. The advantage of outsourcing to a media agency is that the company specializes in media ads and selling them.

They search for the right radio station for you to reach your target market. Also, it makes agreements with the radio stations in order to offer you the best prices.

On the other hand, since these agencies have several clients, they can also offer you a more reasonable price.

In the end, with an agency, you save money because your advertisement is more effective, you have placed it in the right place for your target, etc.


The cost of a radio advertisement depends on several factors. As a direct consequence, costs vary from one station to another.

On the one hand, you need to have a budget to make a radio spot plus costs for a voice-over or you can simply buy advertising.

A second factor is the number of people you want to reach with your radio ad. The greater the reach, the higher the cost. The same goes for radio stations. A large national radio station will charge more than a local or regional radio station.


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