Radio Station Checklist: Stuff You Need to Know & Do Before You Go on the Air!
by Larry James

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It is estimated that everyday, more than 10,200 guests appear on approximately 6,000 radio talk or interview shows across America. In addition, there are about 988 TV shows to consider for interview possibilities. Ninety-four percent of the guests are authors who do not have recognizable names. Radio and television talk shows need interesting guests to attract listeners and viewers. Authors are interesting people. The general public think that authors are experts and celebrities.

Why do radio talk shows to promote yourself or service?

  1. Most radio interviews can be done by telephone, with no travel required.
  2. Most interviews are live, and allow for Q & A from the listeners.
  3. With interviews ranging from five to sixty minutes, this forum provides adequate time for a you to talk about yourself, book or service.
  4. A guest can give out a toll-free number, website, or direct listeners to a bookstore to make a purchase.

Talkers Magazine describes the average talk radio listener:

  1. A majority of the talk radio audience is 35 to 64 years old.
  2. Economically, talk radio's audience is considered to be among mass media's most affluent. 42% of the talk radio audience has a household income in excess of $60,000 per year and 62% earn over $50,000.
  3. Relative to other forms of mass media, the talk radio audience is clearly one of the most educated with a notably high percentage of listeners who have attended one or more years of college. 35% have graduated with a four-year college degree.
  4. The gap between men and women in the radio audience has narrowed by two more percentage points, bringing it to 54% male and 46% female.

If you are available to do interviews with the media to promote your book or speaking business, the following checklist will prove helpful. Always remember, while you are there to promote your stuff, you must also provide entertaining content for the radio audience. Talk show hosts will seldom invite you back if you do not first have their audience in mind. In other words. . . your book will get you on, then you must have something interesting to say that is unique, controversial or fascinating (besides an occasional mention of your book).

Here are a few bits of info that you must get before your interview that will prove to be invaluable during and after the interview:

What to send to the Host:

Follow-up! - If you send your stuff to a producer, be sure to follow up with a brief phone call to verify that they received the info. My experience has been that I am mostly like to book an interview during the follow-up call.

Be Prepared - Have your cheat-sheet with your keywords and book(s) in front of you. Be sure to have answers (sound bites) written out for the sample questions you sent the host. Most radio interviews are by telephone. If you go to the studio, take your stuff with you! Read How to Be a Great Radio Guest!.

Check Out the Host - Before appearing on a radio interview, check out the radio station's website. You may be able to view a picture of the host, a bio, listener info and more, all of which will help you sound like you're a long-time listener, even though you've never heard the show. If the website features audio streaming you may be able to listen to the show before your appearance. The more comfortable you sound with the host, their format and their listeners, the better the interview and the more likely you will be invited back.

You can use the Radio Locator to locate all of the radio stations near a U.S. city.

Make comments like: "As I said in my book, Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers, blah, blah, blah." or "My books are available in major book stores however I'm sure your listeners will want to know where they can get a signed copy of my book, blah, blah, blah." Never answer a question by saying, "You'll have to read about that in my book," without giving the audience a taste of what is in the book. To tease without sharing makes it obvious that you value self-promotion above the listener's well being.

Be sure to mention the station's call letters when you are on the air. Also call the host by name several times during the interview. Write it down so you get it right.

Check box Always say your best stuff first. A special "Thank You" to my good friend, Gregory J.P. Godek, for this excellent tip. This is very important. If you don't, you may not have a chance to get your message across later. Do your best to bring up things in your answers to questions that lead the host to ask you questions about what you want to talk about. Since most radio interviews are on the telephone, you will find that it helps to have several key words written in front of you.

Referrals: If you know other speakers or authors who would be a good fit for the show you were on, refer your friends to the host, then call your friends and give them the referral. In your "thank you" to the host, include their names and phone numbers.

If the interview went well, ask for a letter of praise from the host.

The best time to ask is immediately after the interview.

IMPORTANT: If your book is not ready for you to send to those who want it or if it is not already in the book stores when you have the interview... You are wasting your time and energy and allowing your ego to rule. Save it for later is a better idea.

The more experience you gain from interviews, the more selective you can become in choosing the stations you would like to be on. In the beginning I was always ready when anyone called regardless of whether the station was "right" for me. That's one of the reasons I developed this checklist.

Remember that the length of an interview has nothing to do with its impact. Many people feel that short interviews don't pay off, while longer interviews do. Keep in mind that whatever length the interview, the host and the audience are accustomed to that format. They "will" get something out of the interview as long as you are prepared.

In sales it is important to qualify the buyer. I believe it is equally important to find out as much about the station, their format, the hosts, the music (if any) before you say yes. At first it may be difficult to say no. After you have gone through this checklist with them, if it doesn't feel right, have the courage to say no.

Always send them a "Thank you" for having you on their show, preferably using your book cover as a postcard. This gesture helps you "stand out" from all the rest. It had helped me to get repeat interviews; one station. . . five appearances!

Check box And finally. . . after the interview always call the station's receptionist to provide information about your book, because listeners who don't remember your name or your book's title may call the station for additional information. The receptionist is the first and very often the only person the listener will ever reach. Ask for the fax number and fax a full information sheet with your name, book title, phone number, Website and complete ordering information.

Find Out More...

Handling the Media Interview - Michelle Giles

How to Be a Great Radio Guest! - Larry James

Using Your Best VOICES on the Air - Brian Jud

Copyright © 2002 Larry James. Reprinted with permission.

This article is available for reprint provided that the author's byline, bio and copyright statement are included and the article is unaltered.

Author Larry James is also a professional speaker and relationship coach. He is the author of four books. His articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and on the Internet. His popular relationship website features a special section of great information for authors and speakers. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695;


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