Commercial Alternative Specialty Radio Promotion


For many new and emerging artists, commercial radio isn’t quite the right home.  


Just like TV shows, radio stations break down their schedules into a few basic parts.  In the A.M. hours, there’s morning radio for the commuters, usually featuring news, interviews, sports, and talk shows.  Once the morning shows wrap up, the bulk of the day is devoted to music and, to an even greater extent, advertising. This is radio’s equivalent of “prime time.”  Finally, late at night, you’ll find the evening shows, which tend to feature electronic remixes and “deep cuts.”

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Commercial specialty radio simply refers to any show on a commercial station that features material outside of the station norm. Most commercial stations allot one or two hours each week for specialty shows. During these specialty shows, the host has free reign to play tracks that wouldn’t or couldn’t normally get rotation.

Translation: songs by independent, new, and/or unsigned artists.


From your classic FM Rock station to NPR broadcasting news radio, nearly all commercial radio stations reserve at least a few hours a week for specialty programming. And while the amount of hours per week for specialty shows increases as you look toward the stations run by colleges and universities, there are many advantages to dedicating some of your promotional campaigns to specialty radio on big, commercial stations.

  • Larger listenership
  • Bigger station advertisement campaigns
  • Exposure to professional commercial DJs: these DJs often attend meetings with the station’s general musical director and program directors; the more of these that become familiar with your music the greater odds of going into true rotation with a subsequent release


Although the majority of specialty radio programs air on the Top 40 and alternative rock stations in the national market, pop and rock are not the only genres to get airplay on specialty stations. There is a wide range of specialty programs and, depending on a city’s social makeup, the universities in the area, and musical history, specialty shows can that suit your unique brand and musical style can be found from coast to coast.

Just imagine the number of opportunities just out of reach on commercial stations when they relinquish the air to specialty DJs. Let Planetary Group get you on their radar in every time zone.


The jump from college/non-comm radio to commercial is not without a few items for consideration. Commercial radio, whether it plays Top 40 or Alt Rock, is accustomed to standard industry production value- meaning fully mixed and professionally mastered singles. 

If your music is purposely lofi or recorded to have a DIY aesthetic, you may want to focus more purely on non-comm radio, which has a love and tradition of playing lofi/DIY music. 

Specialty radio, as an offshoot of commercial radio, will expect and look to play more polished, sleek recordings that don’t disrupt the general quality of the recordings they spin. It is not to say a punk band won’t be played on an Alt Rock station’s specialty show, it just means you may have to put a little more investment into mixing/mastering.

Find some specialty radio programs in your area and see what they’re playing, when its on, and if that sort of campaign is right for you. It could very well be the missing piece in your promotional puzzle.

Commercial radio may be a difficult, if not an impossible venue for brand new acts, but thanks to commercial specialty radio, you have a chance to break in with Planetary Group.


First, we will need to listen to your release to determine if it’s something that aligns with the specialty radio shows we’ll be reaching out to. If so, then we will reach out to you to discuss your goals and touring plans so that we can create a customized, targeted campaign that works for you. 

Radio campaigns typically run 6-8 weeks, where Planetary Group is actively soliciting radio stations for airtime and feedback, saving you time and energy.


  • A specific, targeted, commercial specialty campaign, based on your needs
  • Weekly status reports with radio feedback, pulled from our website 
  • Tour support promotion to ensure advance exposure in your pending tour markets
  • Peace of mind – knowing that Planetary is adept at taking music of nearly every stripe to the radio 


Writing, recording, and releasing your music is hard enough without thinking of the time and effort it takes to promote it. Let Planetary Group ease your stress by managing your radio promotion campaign, that way you can get back to what really matters to you – creating fantastic music for everyone to enjoy!  

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The Indie Bible

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The Indie Bible has been a staple for musicians and performing artists for over 20 years. Learn more in our writeup below.

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