How to Book Radio Interviews for Yourself

Talk radio producers with terrestrial and Internet stations, as well as producers with satellite radio stations, are always looking for interesting, entertaining, informed guests for their shows, which may be live or taped.

So, how do you get booked as a guest on radio? You do four things:

1. Write a killer pitch.

2. Identify the shows likely to be interested in your pitch and the producers of those show.

3. E-mail your pitch to the producers.

4. Follow up with each producer to try to schedule an interview for yourself.

Writing 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 audiences of the shows you are targeting, and highlight your credentials to talk about the topic.

When possible, tie your pitch to what people are talking about, a current event, the anniversary of an significant event, 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 message 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 your company helps to address.

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 tell consumers what the change in the law is likely to mean to them and what their legal rights are when debt collectors contact them. Or, let's assume that 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.

Choosing Radio Shows to Target

Once you’ve developed a compelling pitch, your next task is to develop a list of shows likely to be interested in booking you as a guest. Here is how to do that:

If your library has an up-to-date directory of 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 online lists of radio stations (although the lists may not be complete) and often those lists will include links to the station web sites.

Next, visit each station web site to learn about the station’s format. Possible 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, Blacks, Spanish speaking, mostly men, mostly women, and do on. The format and demographic information will help you determine which 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 whose listeners are primarily young males.

Whenever you find a radio station with the right format and demographics, get as much information as you can about any talk or locally-produced interview programs it may produce that you think might be interested in scheduling you as a guest. Note: Some radio shows limit their interviews to specific topics – like personal finance, sports, investing, current events, personal development and growth, or small business issues, for example – while others do interviews on a wide range of subjects.

Ideally, the station web sites will tell you not only the names of the shows, but also the kinds of guests that appear on the shows, the name of the shows’ producers, and the producers’ email addresses and phone numbers. If you are not able to find all of this information, on a station’s web site, call the station and ask for it.

Sending Your Pitch to Producers

Once you have your target radio show list developed and you’ve honed your pitch, it’s time to e-mail that pitch to the producers on your list. Don’t send any attachments with your e-mails.

Following Up

A couple days after you’ve sent your first e-mail pitch, follow up with each producer via phone or e-mail to confirm that your pitch was received and to find out if the producers want to schedule interviews 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 follow up e-mail, don’t give up! Producers receive lots of voice mail messages and e-mails every day and so they may not be able to respond to all of them immediately. However, 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, when it comes to media follow up, 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 Followup 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 the producer again, although I may get in touch at a later date with a different pitch.

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