General Question

lefteh's avatar

Do radio stations make agreements to synchronize their commercial breaks?

Asked by lefteh (9409points) August 16th, 2008

Usually when I am listening to my car radio, I will punch another preset if a station goes to a commercial. Often, this station will also be on a commercial break. So I punch another with the same result. This got me wondering if radio stations in urban areas sometimes agree to have commercial breaks at the same time in order to increase likelihood of their listeners remaining on their station.
By the way, this isn’t normally on the hour or the half hour. It occurs at seemingly random times, and almost every time.

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29 Answers

cak's avatar

grrrrrr! Isn’t that incredibly annoying? I can’t stand commercials…probably why I have my iPod on hand, at all times! I have wondered the same. The last 4–7 mins before the end of the hour – always a big block of commericals and yes, then again at really weird times in the hour.

marinelife's avatar

I think it is coincidence. The songs are around the same length usually, and there are only so many was to divide the hour up. I hate that about TV too.

susanc's avatar

I think lefteh is right, it’s an agreement – or they’re all using the same tactic so it might
as well be.

AstroChuck's avatar

Great question. I think it applies to television ads as well.

augustlan's avatar

I’ve thought so about tv commercials for a long time…supremely frustating.

mrjadkins's avatar

It is the reason I went with Sirius radio. No more commercials. Entire channels of music by genre or artist. Today, I listened to Elvis in the car almost all day.

I think the setup for commercials was to do a major break at the top of each hour with mini breaks during the quarters of the hour. The top of the hour is when they also do traffic and top news stories on that terrestrial radio.

lefteh's avatar

Yeah, that was my initial thought, but I started taking notice of the times and they turned out to be things like :19, :36, :53, etc.

breedmitch's avatar

@lefteh: If it’s :19, :36, and :53 then you have your answer! That’s not a random sequence of numbers.

lefteh's avatar

I made those numbers up.
they turned out to be things like… they were merely examples of the random times they would happen.

breedmitch's avatar

”...I started taking notice of the times….”

I just thought perhaps you hadn’t realized that those numbers are 17 minutes apart.

lefteh's avatar


Bizarre. I honestly made those numbers up at random. Apparently my mind thinks in 17s.

breedmitch's avatar

I always knew you were a genius. ;)

AstroChuck's avatar

Well, almost a genius. Everyone know real genius is thinking in 19s.

lefteh's avatar

Those of us thinking in 17s, however, are proud of our subject-verb agreements.

augustlan's avatar

You go, lefteh!

AstroChuck's avatar

I’m afraid I only think in 3s.

augustlan's avatar

However, lefteh, isn’t woah spelled wHoa?

breedmitch's avatar

Could Chuckie’s verb tense be correct if he’s British?

lefteh's avatar

@augustlan: I think there’s quite a bit of latitude when it comes to the spelling of onomatopoeias and exclamations.

@breedmitch: Yes…but he’s not!

augustlan's avatar

Did you just change “lalitude” to “latitude”, or are my eyes playing tricks? quite possible, as I am not wearing my glasses

lefteh's avatar

Nope, no typo correction this time around.

augustlan's avatar

I must be getting old :)

jlm11f's avatar

GQ lefteh! i have always wondered about this. too bad there isn’t a definite answer so far :(

lefteh's avatar

Yeah, it is too bad. I was hoping that there was some radio executive lurking in Fluther.

iJimmy's avatar

Radio stations are rated by quarter hours. If a listener marks down that they listened to a station for the first few minutes of the quarter hour the station gets credit for the whole quarter hour. So stations by nature started running commercial breaks after the first song or two of each quarter hour. That is usually :20 :35 and :50. Stations to not make agreements to run commercials at the same time. In fact most stations race to get out of the commercial break quicker than their competition. Since all stations are rated by the same service (Arbitron) they most all follow the same start times for breaks.

breedmitch's avatar

Now that’s good fluther!

lefteh's avatar

Ahaaaa. There we go! Makes sense! Thanks, iJimmy!

buddy1's avatar

The problem is solved by getting satalite and simply pause the program for about 15 to 20 minutes and simply fast forward through all commercials

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