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I Can’t Live Without My Radio

By |

Move over, LL Cool J, because some Colorado politicians can’t live without their radio.

Republican candidates Mike Coffman (secretary of state) and Mark Hillman (state treasurer) are advertising almost exclusively on radio, as are Democrats Bill Winter (congress, CO-6) and Fern O’Brien (attorney general). While some candidates are using radio instead of TV because of a lack of money, some are doing it because of a lack of planning. Either way, a failure to make it onto television when your opponents are all over the tube does not put you in a good position for victory on Election Day.

Of the four candidates mentioned here, Coffman is the only one who seems to have made his decision with other options on the table. He chose radio for strategic purposes, not because he couldn’t do TV, and we’ll see if he was wise.

O’Brien never had enough money for television, and it’s hard to explain why she would spend money on a radio buy that included 760 AM (Air America). Most of the people listening to 760 AM are active Democrats; in other words, people who are already going to vote for O’Brien.

Hillman and Winter both spent more money than they could afford to spend and still make it onto TV, and neither are doing radio buys that are likely to be particularly effective. Hillman has purchased time on Rush Limbaugh’s show, for example, targeting a group of voters (like O’Brien) that were probably going to vote for him anyway. Hillman accepted the spending limits provision, as did Democrat Cary Kennedy, but Kennedy saved every penny for television while Hillman had spent a third of his warchest by the end of the summer.

Winter didn’t raise a ton of money but didn’t plan very well, either. When all is said and done, he’ll have spent several tens of thousands of dollars running radio ads – money that probably could have gotten him a decent cable TV buy had he planned better. Winter may have a good radio presence, but most of those listeners aren’t even in his congressional district. At least Coffman, Hillman and O’Brien don’t have to worry about the radio reaching people that can’t vote for them (because they are running statewide).

Is TV the most valuable medium in Colorado? We’ll find out. The opponents of Hillman, Coffman, Winter and O’Brien were all on TV. If all four opponents win on Election Day, television may play a major role.

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