Jerry Lee puts his money where his Cume is


“I will make radio commercials that are more effective than television commercials. And I will do it for free.” That’s the offer WBEB-FM Philadelphia owner Jerry Lee is making next week to the Advertising Research Foundation in New York. Lee, of course, is well known for decades of pioneering efforts in radio – and this time he has all of Philadelphia radio behind him.

With Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings demonstrating in Philadelphia that radio stations have much greater Cume audiences than previously reported by diary measurement, Lee is convinced that radio can deliver the same reach as TV at a fraction of the cost. And with quality, well researched commercials, he believes radio commercials can be more effective than TV.

To prove it, he’s making the offer to pay for the quality creative work. And he’s been empowered by the Philadelphia Radio Organization to have WBEB VP/GM Blaise Howard sell select accounts for virtually all of Philly radio.

“The PPM proves that radio delivers far greater reach, now it’s up to us to prove that we can deliver commercials with far greater selling power – and that’s just what we intend to do. This isn’t some stunt, we’re using tried and true research methods to create better commercials; commercials that create stronger emotional connections with listeners and ultimately commercials that drive consumers to action. Radio is extremely powerful and if it takes a bold action to make people realize it, then that’s what we’re prepared to do,” Lee said.

In recent years, Lee developed a unique multi-level research and testing process for radio commercials that he has been using successfully at WBEB. It first identifies which messages really connect a consumer to a brand – avoiding the common mistake of packing too many messages into a radio spot. The commercials are then tested on likeability. Those that test higher than a seven on a scale of 1-10 are then put through a process called facial coding to determine whether they emmotionally connect with the audience. WBEB has tested more than 2,500 commercials to date and found that those which do emotionally connect are up to eight times more powerful than those that do not.

So, Lee is now combining what he sees as two powerful forces. PPM demonstrates that radio stations have much larger Cume audiences than previously reported. WBEB’s Cume, for example, tripled from diary measurement. Commercial testing determines before airing whether a spot is going to be effective. Put better commercials on radio; deliver the same reach as TV for a lot less money; and advertisers will make more use of radio.