How to Get Booked on a Talk Radio Show
Talk radio producers with terrestrial radio stations, Internet radio stations, and satellite radio stations are always looking for interesting, entertaining, informed guests for their shows.
So, how do you get booked as a guest on one of these shows? You do four things:
1. Write a killer pitch
2. Identify the talk radio shows most likely to be interested in your pitch and find out the name and contact information for the producer of each show
3. Email your pitch to the producers
4. Follow up with each producer to schedule yourself as a guest
EXTRA! At the end of this discussion, you'll find a link to my Free Interview Booking Sheet. Whenever you schedule an interview for yourself, use the sheet to record all of the important information about the interview, like the day and time it will take place, the subject of the interview, whether you must call the producer to initiate the interview or the producer will call you, an emergency contact number, and so on. Having all relevant information written down in one place will help minimize the likelihood of any confusion and snafus just before or during an interview.
Write Your Pitch
Your pitch is the information that you will send to radio show producers via e-mail in an effort to convince them that you would make a great guest. Make your pitch brief, but compelling. It should describe what you want to discuss during an interview – information, tips, advice, or new insights, for example -- reflect an understanding of why your topic would be of interest to the show’s audience, and highlight your credentials to talk about the topic.
When possible, tie your pitch to what people are talking about and interested in now, a current event, the anniversary of an significant event from the past, an important new report, statistics that have just been released, and so on. Also, be sure to include an attention-getting subject line in your email to increase the likelihood that your pitch will get read.
Never pitch your company, its products or its services specifically! Radio shows are not interested in giving you free advertising. They want to entertain and educate their audiences. However your pitch can be about a problem or issue that relates to your business' product or service.
Here are a couple examples of what I mean:
Let’s assume that you are an attorney who helps clients resolve problems with debt collectors and that there has been a change in the law affecting how collectors can collect debts. Rather than making your pitch about your firm, pitch yourself as a legal expert who can educate consumers about what the change in the law is likely to mean to them and what their legal rights are when debt collectors contact them.
Or perhaps you are the author of a new book on the origins of domestic terrorism. Don’t pitch the book itself. Instead, offer yourself as an expert on why some Americans become terrorists here at home, where they get their training, their goals, etc.
Choose the Radio Shows You'll Target
Once you’ve developed a compelling pitch, your next task is to put together a list of the shows you believe are likely to be interested in it. Here is how to do that:
If your library has an up-to-date directory of local radio stations around the country, use it to develop a list of stations in the geographic markets you want to target for interviews. Another option is to google “radio shows in (name of city)”. Your search should yield sites that list radio stations (although the lists may not be complete) and often those lists will include links to the station web sites.
Next, visit each web site to learn about the station’s format. Station formats include talk, sports, country western, easy listening, urban, rock, jazz, Christian, and more. Also note the demographics of a station’s audience – listeners ages 18-34, older adults, African Americans, Spanish-speaking, mostly men, mostly women, and so on. A station's format and demographics will help you pinpoint the radio stations you should focus on given the subject you want to be interviewed about. For example, if the subject relates to women and their careers, it would not make sense to target a sports-oriented radio station or a rock station with primarily young male listeners.
Whenever you find a radio station with the right format and demographics, gather as much information as you can from its web site about any locally-produced talk programs (or straight interview programs) it may produce that you think might be interested in having you on as a guest. Note: Some radio shows limit their interviews to specific topics – like personal finance, investing, current events, personal growth and development, small business issues, and so on – while others do interviews on a wide range of subjects.
Ideally, each of the station web sites you visit will give you not only the name of it show, but also the kind of guests that appear on the show, the name of the show's producer, and the producer's contact information. If you are unable to find all of this information at a web site, call the station to get it.
Follow a similar process to develop a list of shows that air on satellite and Internet radio stations. To begin that process go to http://www.siriusxmradio.com and google "Internet radio stations." Blogtalk Radio is an example of an Internet radio station.
When you are using the media directories, don't overlook programs that air nationally on terrestrial radio networks. You will need the same information that you need for the local shows you want to target.
Sending Your Pitch to the Producers
Once you've developed your target radio show list and you've honed your pitch, you're ready to e-mail that pitch to the shows' producers. Don’t send any attachments with your e-mails.
A couple days after you’ve sent your first e-mail, follow up with each producer via phone or e-mail to confirm that your pitch was received and to find out if the producer would like to schedule an interview with you. If you leave a message on a producer’s voice mail and don’t get a call back right away or if the producer doesn’t respond to your e-mail, don’t give up. Producers receive many voice mail messages and e-mails and so they may not be able to respond to all of them immediately.
If a couple days go by and you’ve still not heard back from a particular producer, contact him or her again. In my experience, polite persistence often pays off. However, don't follow up so often that you become a pest! That will work against you. Here's my Follow Up Rule of Thumb: If I contact a producer three times and get no response, I assume that the producer is not interested in what I am pitching and I don’t contact him or her again, although I may get in touch at a later date with a different pitch.
Click here for my free radio interview booking sheet!
Before you do any radio interviews, read my article on how to be a great guest.
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