Small Business Brief


How Much Does It Cost to Advertise on Radio?

Are you interested in placing your ad on the radio? Want to know the average cost of radio advertising? 

Well, you’re in the right place. We have all of that information packaged, and ready to go. 

All you need to do now is prepare yourself. In this article, we will cover the cost, the factors affecting the cost, and how you can reduce your ad spend. 

So if that’s something you’d like to know about, keep reading to the end.

What Is The Average Cost of Radio Advertising?

In premise, the average cost of radio advertising is not fixed, and certainly not predictable. It is not calculated on time spent on the air but is often based on the rate of value for the airtime.

Airtime value is quantified by its concurrent reach, as well as the relevance of the demographic, such as the average age, income, and interests. 

A specific question is often used that helps calculate the cost based on quantifiable aspects of the radio advertisement. Because radio advertising is based on the age-old principle of supply & demand, one can come up with a simple formula for cost per each radio spot.

The Cost = Quantity of Listeners x The Cost to Reach 1000 of Those Listeners

And you might think why do radio stations charge per spot, but that truth is the reach of an ad is not just based on the quantity o listeners and the cost to reach them, but also the time of day for airing the ad. This on its own can affect both of those numbers, including the demographics quite a bit.

Fortunately, not all radio stations charge on a per spot basis. They might use some other metric to determine ad price, but you can always return to this equation to find out how much exactly it would cost you per ad.

To learn more about and place ads, check out Killerspots.

Cost Factor Examples Pertinent to Radio Ads

Because not all ads are priced the same, and their final cost is pertinent to the station policy, listener demographic, demand/competition, and a variety of other factors – one must involve himself in understanding the variance.

In order to help support this point, we’ve decided to provide two relevant examples. These examples will cover the cost based on demographics and the cost based on demand.

Cost via Listener Demographics

If the listener audience in the majority is prevalent within a range outside of 25 to 54, your CPM will be significantly lower. If a station has a male audience between 18 and 35, you might expect significantly higher rates. 

If a station tailors to rich folk, you can also expect an increasingly high CPM rate. This is often seen with classic or jazz stations.

Cost via Demand

If your town is hosting a popular event, like an annual fair, the price for the ad spot will raise. You will have to match the new rates, or else somebody else will take your spot, as they are willing to pay more.

Any holiday season will come with price jumps because retail stores will compete for the listener.

How to Lower Radio Ad Rates?

And finally as promised, we will cover how you can lower your radio ad rates, leading you to save money whilst still getting great coverage. Both of these are very important if you’re looking for cost-effective campaigns for your ad.

So let’s do this quick:

Rate Card

A rate card will help you figure out the general outline for the radio station’s pricing framework, which is significantly different from custom offerings. The rate card will provide you with substantial insight on the maximum amount that might pay. 

It should have a detailed chart with pricing for all times of the day. If you are good at negotiation, you can lower the ad price by 30%, just by having this rate card.


If this is your first advertisement, make sure to ask about a discount. Even though a station might not provide you with a discount, it opens the door for negotiation at a newer price. 

If you’re purchasing many spots, there most definitely should be a volume discount. Don’t be shy, remind them.


Radio stations love providing value to the listener, so if you’re advertising something, you might as well provide some free products in exchange for the spot. You might not cover the entire cost, but you can certainly lower it. 


If you have options, go and compare the rates with all the applicable stations that make sense to you. If one station lowers the price, let the higher-priced one know to get them to lower their price as well. 

This might not work, especially if the demographic is variable, but it is certainly worth a try.

Delegated Ad Time

Another way to lower your rate is to ask the radio station to pick the ad time for you. This empowers them to fit your ad into their schedule, and exchange all you ask for is a price reduction. This method is simple and works often.

Radio Advertising Done Right

Now that you know the average cost of radio advertising, you are well on your way to determining if it’s cost-effective for your campaign. 

Radio stations are great for exposure, but they don’t really have the best conversions. If that matters to you, you might look elsewhere. But we are not here to discourage, so whatever you decide to do will be the right thing to do. 

If you would like to learn more about business-related topics, check out in-depth articles on the small business brief on our website.