Back in 2005, I was at a lunch with three good friends from the radio business. Over a few beers, one of those friends, Larry MacInnis, said, “You know, Terry, if you were to break your annual creative radio seminar into smaller pieces, it would make an interesting radio show.”
See, once a year, I would stage a big radio event, and invite about 200 young copywriters to a theatre. Over the course of the day, I would teach them how to produce creative radio commercials.
But I had never thought of turning it into a radio series.
So I laughed and said to Larry, “Who would run a radio show like that?” He paused, and said, “The CBC.”
To which I replied, “You mean the advertising-free CBC? The network people flee to in order to avoid advertising? That network?”
“Yeah,” he said.
Well, this year will mark the 12th anniversary of that radio show airing on CBC and Sirius Satellite.
It began as a 10-episode summer replacement series in 2005. Co-created with Mike Tennant, the show was titled, “O’Reilly On Advertising.” The program explored the world of advertising in a fun and irreverent way. Response was so positive – so quickly – that CBC asked us to stay on and produce a total of 25 episodes that first year.
When CBC wanted the show to come back in 2006, we decided to recalibrate the series, take a longer view, and re-christened it, “The Age of Persuasion.”
The program looked at all aspects of advertising, from copywriting, to radio commercials, to TV commercials, to direct mail, to the history of advertising – then broke it all down – and took listeners behind the walls of advertising agencies and big brands.
The audience responded and grew with each season. By 2010, we were averaging about 450,000 listeners per week.
Around the same time, the show was picked up by WBEZ in Chicago, and our American audience started to grow.
In 2010, my series co-creator, Mike Tennant, went on to pursue other projects. It was as good a time as any to reboot and rebrand, as so much had changed in the world of marketing since 2005.
So Age of Persuasion continued for one more year, then in 2012, the show expanded to take a much wider look at – not just advertising – but the expanding world of marketing. With that refocus, the show changed its name to become, “Under The Influence.”
Since that change, our audience numbers took a big jump. We have over a million listeners per week in Canada alone, and our podcast has been downloaded over 17.25 million times. We also have a sizable audience abroad, with listeners in countries as far away as Britain, Germany, France, Ireland, Sweden, Australia, Japan, China, Philippines and Mexico.
In 2011, iTunes named the show the Best New Podcast of the year.
The New York Festivals awarded the show the Grand Trophy as the Best Radio Program in 2011 and again in 2012.
iTunes again named Under The Influence as one of the best podcasts of 2015.
And believe it or not, we’re fast approaching our 300th episode.
Besides Larry MacInnis, of course.