A New Path to America's Ears

Fact: Most of the investing shows on commercial radio stations are paid infomercials. Getting a truly helpful show or real investing features on most radio stations requires huge outlays of cash. 

Radio wasn’t like this when my national radio show started back in 1988, but it didn’t take long for brokers, insurance agents, and overpriced advisors to discover radio’s weakness, money. My old show (for which I was paid a salary) was replaced by a program whose host, Keith DeGreen paid the network. Not only did they save my salary, they made money.

Soon, radio stations discovered that they could provide listeners with investing programming and make money. They either didn’t know or didn’t care, that these programs generally offered advice that did more to enrich the hosts than their listeners.

Today, with very few exceptions, the money shows you hear pay the station to air them. In most cases, the host buys out the entire hour. Some programs pay the stations a fee. Others, like us, purchase a set amount of advertising in our program and elsewhere on the station. 

Some of these paid programs are good. These include Ric Edelman’s and Adam Bold’s programs (yes, they are paid programs). Others, like most of those on your typical “business” station, are somewhere between awful and criminal. I’ll avoid naming names (but if you care to ask me about any of them I’ll give you my honest opinion).

The current system makes economic sense for the stations (not necessarily for you, though). Why would a radio station pay someone to do something that others are lining up to pay to do.

Tom and I believe that we provide great advice and information about investing and would love to find some way to get our programming carried, nationwide. However, we can’t afford to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars (in the largest markets) every week to have our show or features aired. 

Over the more than two decades I have been hosting money talk shows, many have suggested that I consider creating programming for public radio stations because the advice I provide doesn’t attract financial services advertising (it acts more like a Wall Street repellant). I have often considered taking this course, but couldn’t find an easy way to distribute the content.

Now, thanks to a relatively new, and burgeoning online public radio distribution platform, Public Radio Exchange (PRX), independent programming can now be made easily and inexpensively available to public radio stations, nationwide.

For the past few months, I have been devising a plan and creating programming to offer to the more than 3,000 public radio stations, nationwide. My effort starts with a new 2 minute daily feature, True Investing, and will eventually include a one-hour weekly talk show.

I hope you can help us get the new programming noticed and carried by your local public (NPR) station. A few episodes have already been placed online at prx.org. I have also created a new website at trueinvesting.org.

Don McDonaldComment