Sound Policy

Here’s the back story on Yahoo’s revelation that radio was the “secret weapon” in recent marketing efforts to create a positive perception of the Affordable Care Act:

CRN’s President, Barry Berman, was hearing endless complaints about the program last November on MSNBC. Reporters were pressing ACA congressional leaders, asking, “Where are all the success stories about how Obamacare is working? All we hear are the bashers.”

Within minutes, Barry sent an email to his friend Rosa DeLauro, U.S. Representative in Connecticut’s Third District, which includes New Haven—home base for CRN. The email included an idea to flood the nation’s airwaves with stories about local people, especially those within the ACA enrollment targets, who are reaping the benefits of the new healthcare program. These personal, real stories, Barry declared, would be “inescapable and drown out the sea of negativity.” He knew what radio could accomplish—if used correctly.

DeLauro was excited about the idea and wanted to take it to the “powers that be” in Congress, the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House. She quizzed Berman on the question of why radio, and why not TV—something she knew she would be asked inside the Beltway.

Readers here, of course, will know the answers. Berman knew that radio could reach just about everyone in America where they lived, and deliver the message with such frequency that the stories would be inescapable. Moreover, the local nature of the stories of friends and neighbors would help change the conversation in an authentic, meaningful way. There would be a continuous, lively parade of fresh stories cascading through the country through the powerful medium of sound, not to mention extraordinary cost efficiencies in both media and production.

The story took on many twists and turns. But the case for radio, thanks to CRN, was carried on and repeated through the halls of Congress, the President’s Cabinet, and, we’re told, to the President himself.

As Paul Harvey would say, now you know the rest of the story.

While the case for radio is nothing new to those who have been following or using the medium for years, it was fun to hear it expressed in a Yahoo news story, written by Oliver Knox: “Political communications strategists say part of the appeal is the essentially captive audience, whether it’s drive-time radio, or something to listen to on the construction site or in the office. People have an attachment to their drive-time choice and tend to trust it more than the bewildering array of news sources online or on television.”

The Yahoo article quoted Ben LaBolt, national press secretary for President Obama’s 2012 campaign, as saying, “Radio is a necessary part of any robust, comprehensive outreach.”

CRN is proud to have put radio on the table for the D.C. insiders.