Taking the mounting competitive threat from satellite radio and other alternative media seriously, radio broadcasters went on the offensive yesterday (Jan. 10), launching a nationwide advertising camp

Taking the mounting competitive threat from satellite radio and other alternative media seriously, radio broadcasters went on the offensive yesterday (Jan. 10), launching a nationwide advertising campaign promoting radio as the source for new and compelling music.

To kick off the campaign, broadcasters such as Clear Channel, Entercom Communications, Infinity Broadcasting, Greater Media and Cumulus Media have set aside $28 million in advertising time over the next few weeks to air a series of 30-second radio ads. Although radio will be the primary media vehicle in the campaign, other media including print and the Internet will also be used.

Broadcasters are the first to admit that a pro-radio campaign is long overdue. "Satellite radio and others have tried to reposition this medium and they've been given a free pass by the mainstream press," says David Field, president/CEO of Entercom Communications. Field served as chairman of the industry committee that developed the campaign over the last few months. "We're not an industry that has historically stepped up to toot our own horn, but when you're up against a hype machine, we felt it was time," he adds.

Created by New York-based DeVito Verdi, the first wave of radio spots target 19- to 29-year-olds featuring voiced-over copy by Nelly, Ludacris, Avril Lavigne, Alicia Keys, Ashanti and Hoobastank to stress radio's leading role in launching new artists.

"Before the cover of Maxim, before stomping the red carpet, before I stole my father's ties, before the star on my wrist, before the pop tart drama, before I toured the world at 19 ... you heard me, Avril Lavigne, on the radio. Radio. You hear it here first."

"This is about artists recognizing and acknowledging what free radio means to them," said Field.

The first wave of radio ads will run six weeks, followed by a second wave of ads featuring voice-overs by up and coming acts such as John Legend, the Bravery, and the Ditty Bops. The campaign will also extend to Country, News/Talk and other formats.

Although plans are still being formulated, the campaign is likely to evolve to tackle other radio image issues. "There are a couple of other stories out there that are not being told," Field said. "There is a ton of innovation in radio, but we've not gotten credit for it."