Radio Advertising 101: How to Budget for Local Ad Campaigns


Budgeting is a large part of coming up with the right marketing and advertising strategy. Especially for small businesses, which often also have small bank accounts, it’s important to be able to find an advertising strategy and individual campaigns that are affordable, but still dynamic enough to get results. Fortunately, you’re in the right place to learn everything that you need to know about budgeting for your local radio ad campaigns, no matter what your budget looks like. 

Why radio?

Radio has always been a popular means of advertising. Even with the addition of streaming music and satellite radio services, many people still listen to the standard AM/FM radio because that’s where their favorite stations are. That means that small businesses still have an audience worth reaching out to with radio advertising, despite what some may think. Yes, digital marketing is in, but that doesn’t mean that every other method is out. 

In fact, in the world of digital advertising and constant exposure, some potential customers may find your radio ad a charming, unique reminder of years gone by. It may seem like a more novel advertising option since radio ads aren’t as common as they used to be, but it reaches people that may never step “foot” into the virtual world of the Internet, so it has a lot of merit for the modern small business. 

Here's how to make your radio advertising work for your business. 

Budget item #1 – Production costs for your radio commercial 

Too often, SMBs focus on the cost of buying airtime or getting an ad spot on the radio, forgetting that there will also be costs associated with producing the commercial in the first place. You may have to budget for outsourcing to a professional ad agency to help you create the ad, or at the very least, choose a freelance script writer or voice actor to help you with your campaign. Make sure that you set a budget that works for your needs and take advantage of the resources online to find the right people to do the work for the right price. 

Even when you’re on a tight budget, the digital tools available today make it pretty easy to pull off a good radio spot if you invest the time and effort. 

Budget item #2 – Paying for airtime or ad spots

This is the expense that most people think about when it comes to radio advertising. The cost of ad spots will vary, depending on several factors. Fit Small Business has a great in-depth guide to Radio Advertising Costs in 2022 that can help you better understand the details of ad pricing and how to calculate what kind of budget you should allow for your ad spots. For example, media buying proposals often include details like:

  • Length 
  • Frequency
  • Spots (how many times will it run?)
  • Rate (cost per spot)
  • Net reach
  • Average quarterly hour (AQH)

The good news is that most radio stations have rate charts available to help you with all the math. The best ones will take care of everything and walk you through the process without breaking the bank, too. 

Budget item #3 – Use your radio ads to drive results on other channels 

Multi-channel campaigns are a must these days. What better way to get your radio audience engaged online than to post an ad promoting some type of online special, or perhaps inviting them to connect with you on social media and mention your ad to get a discount on their first transaction? There’s a lot that you can do to reap the benefits of radio in your other marketing efforts, including getting the endorsement of radio personalities. According to research, that kind of endorsement can increase traffic and conversions by as much as 102%-- that’s a pretty impressive increase, to say the least. 

What if I still don’t understand how radio ads are priced?

The good news is that while you should have somewhat of an idea of the pricing involved in ads, you don’t have to memorize the math and equations. Many stations have rate charts that will allow you to see how much you’ll spend depending on how frequently you want the ad to run, whether you’re buying a primetime spot ad or purchasing airtime separately, and so forth. You can glean enough information to understand the basics enough to set a budget. 

Of course, if you’re still not too sure about taking on this endeavor on your own, you can always opt to hire a marketing team or consultant that can do it all for you. One thing is certain. You can’t skip radio advertising. In 2021, $15 billion was generated by radio ads and it’s also noted that the majority of the advertisers on local radio are small businesses. Therefore, you need to get on board with your competition and start using radio ads to your advantage, no matter what you have in mind or what your budget might be. Remember, if you’re struggling to figure it out on your own, you can always hire someone to help you through the process of creating and publishing radio ads. 

More ads mean more leads—is your team ready?

If you do it right, your radio ads are going to bring in leads to your business, and you’re going to need to have systems in place to handle those leads. That starts with a 24/7 answering service, and when you enlist the virtual receptionists at, it also includes assistance with lead screening and intake, appointment scheduling, live website chat, and even outreach campaigns

Plus, it all comes with a strategy to ensure that we can manage every last detail, no matter how big or small your needs might be. We can free up your time to focus on the business and make sure that you never miss a single lead. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss how the virtual receptionists at can help your business with lead generation and admin solutions, or drop us a line at

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Elizabeth Lockwood is the content marketing associate at She focuses specifically on writing and editing engaging articles, blog posts, and other forms of publication.

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