The Salary of a Radio Advertising Sales Representative

by Mary Tucker-McLaughlin ; Updated July 27, 2017
Although the sky is the limit in commission-based radio sales, most radio representatives garner moderate earnings.

Radio sales representatives, often called account executives, spend their days soliciting clients to buy airtime. The majority of radio sales reps are paid on straight commission, which means their salaries are completely dependent on the sales that they make. Although a radio rep has the potential to make a lot of money, the economy, direct media and other media competition can sometimes interfere with the ability to make sales.

Radio Sales Representatives Starting Out

Typically, radio sales representatives who are entry level will be given six months to a year of company assistance before they are required to be fully commissions based. During this interim period, the salary of a radio representative is dependent on what the company calls a "guarantee." This guarantee varies and is meant to allow the sales representatives to pay his bills and nothing more. According to Account Executive Greg McLaughlin with Beasley Broadcasting, a typical entry-level guarantee is around $2,000 per month before taxes.

Commission-Based Sales

Commission-based earnings are based on a particular commission structure that varies from station to station. The commission structure in radio sales identifies how much commission will be paid based on the type of sale made. According to's Media Guru, a local direct sale may pay more than a sale made through an advertising agency. Web sales for radio pay a different commission than actual on-air spots. Put it all together, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-2011 report on radio sales representatives, the average earnings are about $41,000 per year.

Sales and the Economic Downturn

According to Radio, the economic downturn experienced from 2005 through 2009 resulted in a 25-percent loss of revenue in radio broadcasting. The industry still has not recovered. As the economy slows, so do advertising sales, which directly affects the commissioned salesperson's paycheck. Advertising sales representatives are pursuing new strategies incorporating station websites along with traditional ads to boost sales. As a radio sales representatives, the ebbs and tides of the economy can put your bottom line at risk.


Candidates who are interested in pursuing radio sales-representative positions should do so armed with the knowledge of the industry. Radio sales is a tough job. Few sales representatives make big money, and the majority of sales representatives make moderate incomes. Besides working on straight commissions, radio sales reps are also most often responsible for all car-related expenses. Traveling to see clients daily can rack up a big gas and car-maintenance bill, and few, if any, reps see any type of reimbursement from their companies.

2016 Salary Information for Advertising Sales Agents

Advertising sales agents earned a median annual salary of $50,380 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, advertising sales agents earned a 25th percentile salary of $34,380, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $76,050, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 149,900 people were employed in the U.S. as advertising sales agents.

About the Author

As an educator, television producer and public relations/human resources professional, Mary Tucker-McLaughlin's work has been broadcast on radio and television with affiliates in the Midwest and the South since 1992. Her work has also been published in the "St. Louis Suburban Journals." Tucker-McLaughlin is an assistant professor in eastern North Carolina with a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of South Carolina.

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