Four years before the first Portland, Maine radio station took to the air, a watershed moment in the history of broadcasting was taking place 325 miles away in Jersey City, New Jersey. On July 2, 1921, with a stolen transmitter from the navy yard in Hoboken (not the first time something went missing in Hoboken), radio station WJY would broadcast the first play-by-play sporting event ever. The event was a match between the heavyweight boxing champion-of-the-world, Jack Dempsey, and challenger Georges Carpentier. Although the fight only lasted 4 rounds and was heard by only 300,000 people throughout the Northeast, historian David Halbetsram called the event "an epochal success...a springboard to radio's enormous national growth."
More than 93 years after "the fight of the century" the audience for radio is still growing and that is good news for Maine small business. One year after that historic boxing match, the first radio commercial was broadcast. It was an advertisement for a real estate company in Queens, New York. Portland, Maine real estate Cathy Manchester continues the tradition today. She claims in a recent article that radio advertising doubled her sales in just one year. These results are not unusual. According to research firm Nielsen-Catalina, radio commercials, on average, produce a $6.00 sales lift for every $1.00 invested. Ad Age magazine states that, the Nielsen study indicate that advertisers can expect higher returns-on investment from radio than TV, digital, or social media.
H. Luke Livingston is the president of Maine's Baxter Brewing Company a craft beer brewer headquartered in Lewiston. Livingston, who was included on The Forbes Magazine "30-under-30" list of entrepreneurs, asserts that radio should be a primary component of the marketing plan of any Maine small business. Livingston says, "Perhaps more so than anywhere else in the country, Mainers are fiercely loyal to anything made or produced in their home state; anything profoundly Maine – both where they shop (or what they shop for) and where they get their news and entertainment. So when the two dovetail—when a local product is advertised on that Mainers’ favorite station—the likelihood of the listener to reciprocate that “support” is impressive; a palpable Mainers helping Mainers mentality." Livingston goes on to say, "Additionally, the cache of Maine-made products, consumables or services is the first gift sought by any tourist visiting our state. And radio is most-likely the first exposure a tourist would have to advertising as they drive across the Piscataqua River Bridge. What better advantage is there than being first?"
Baxter Brewing also brings radio history full circle. In homage to another boxing match that attracted a mammoth radio audience, the brewery named one of its beers "Phantom Punch" after a controversial event that occurred during a 1965 match in Lewiston, Maine between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston. Like we said, "radio still packs a wallop for Maine small business.
Meet 7 More Maine Small Business Owners Who Successfully Advertise on Radio