Talk Radio for Fun and Profit—Mostly Profit – Part 2
By: Mickey O’Neill
This is the second in a two-part article on creating a powerful marketing advantage by hosting your own talk radio show. In the first half, we looked at why it can be so advantageous to host your own show, whether you’re cut out for radio, and how to get yourself on the right station.
In this part, we’ll dig into what to do after the radio station says “yes, you can start next week,” some of the scariest and most exciting words you will ever hear!
Your Show Strategy
Should your show be live or recorded? Do you take calls? Do you feature national-caliber guests or stick with local guys? Should it be a selling show, or more educational?
I believe the gold standard of talk radio is the “live and interactive” model. If the purpose of your show is to develop the “Know, Like & Trust” factor in your listeners, then putting yourself out there live and interactive is the fast track to success. Yes, you’ll be hit with questions you can’t answer. You’ll be ridiculed by rude callers. You’ll have to plod through calls with older listeners who get off track during the call. Likewise, you’ll have guests who are duds, controversial, or liars—and you won’t be able to keep any of this from happening because you’re on the air live!
Why is this good? Because when your listeners hear how you respond to all of this, they’ll get to know who you are. People are not stupid. They already know you don’t know everything, so it’s not the fact that you’re caught unable to answer a question, it’s how you deal with that situation that determines how they feel about you. And how do you deal with the rude guy? Are you gracious but firm? How about the oldster who can’t quite spit out their question? Someone who could bring you a ton of business will be listening, and they’ll know they’re not the best talker themselves, so it’ll be important to them to know how you handle such people.
Does this mean you can’t make a recorded show work? Absolutely not. But a recorded show must include as much of the live-type content as possible. And don’t try to be perfect just because it’s recorded. Real people make mistakes. If you stumble a little, keep going. Listeners will admire your courage!
How much should you sell during your show, and how much should you concentrate on teaching? I’m a fan of serving the listener. I think you should constantly give, give, give to them. Over time, gratitude builds and the urge to reciprocate comes to the surface. And, since you’re constantly educating your listener, telling them the “right” answers, when they finally do business with you they will already be trained to accept what you’re prepared to offer!
This is not to say you can’t include a strong call-to-action. You can have prizes and giveaways, but again, people are not stupid. In fact, they’re jaded. If you’re offering prizes so you can get them in a hot box and sell them something, they’ll see through it and tune you out. In my view, most of your calls-to-action should be things that elevate your listeners’ understanding. Suggest books you’ve read, articles you’ve posted on your site, and other professionals you trust. About one in ten or twelve times, suggest they call “a qualified professional,” and if they don’t know one, they should call you.
Using proper formatics is the difference between being heard as a real radio host and as a wannabe. Real radio hosts benefit enormously from the station’s credibility, and the credibility that goes with the talk radio genre in general. Amateurs do not. Oftentimes, amateurs are simply dismissed.
Real radio hosts say certain things at certain times. Things like station identification, branding statements, their own names and the names of their shows. While we don’t actively listen for these things, not hearing them would cause an undercurrent of doubt about the validity of the show. You’ve probably heard an amateurish host. You knew they weren’t professionals, but couldn’t put your finger on why. Poor or absent formatics is the reason.
Finding Good Content
Whether you’re looking for national-caliber authors and experts, or local dignitaries like your city’s mayor or district attorney, there are plenty of resources to help you along.
- Consider RTIROnline.com and SpecialGuests.com, just two of many services that provide guests to you for free.
- Watch the papers, especially the digital papers! Scan through the Drudge Report, WashingtonPost.com, etc. for ideas. Then hunt down the opinion leaders you seek.
- Go to your own support organizations and suppliers. The same people who train you for success there may make superior guests. And, again, you’re training your listeners to prefer your offerings.
- Go for the local public servants. These people are all about serving people, and your audience will usually find that relevant.
- Interview other professionals who seek to serve the same customer you’re after. For example:
- If you are a CPA, you’ll find that estate planning attorneys, elder law attorneys, operators of assisted living centers, heart doctors, upper end eye doctors and dentists are after the same customers.
- If you run a garden center, look for realtors, home repair specialists, tree surgeons, etc.
Ultimately, you need to have your own content, your monologue, on every show. If you interview the latest “turn $10,000 into $1 million in three months” guru, save time at the end of your show for your comments.
Content is the fun part of the show! Have fun with it and people will listen!
Connecting With Your Listener
If you’re a talk radio listener, you know what I mean. When you’re listening to a pro, it feels like he or she is talking just to you. It’s intimate, personal, and very satisfying.
Making this happen on the air is very different from making it happen one-on-one or even in a public education setting. When you’re on the air, you won’t have eyeballs looking back at you. You won’t see the yawns. You won’t see when people shift to the edge of their seats. In fact, on the radio, people can effectively enter and exit your presentation at will.
Here are a few techniques that will help you connect with your listener:
- Speak to your listener as if to one, and only one person.
- Use some humor.
- Include some controversy.
For years, the late great Paul Harvey kept a picture of one of his early schoolteachers on his desk at broadcast time. He would speak to the picture as if speaking to the real person, filtering his topics, grammar, and propriety for her. In effect, he was speaking only to her. If you ever heard Paul Harvey, you know how that felt as a listener. That’s your goal, and now you know how to do it!
Is hosting your own show right for you? If you are coachable, persistent, have the time and money to get started, and the courage to try, it may be a perfect addition to your marketing efforts. Will a successful show relieve you of doing other marketing? Absolutely not. But it will be a springboard to doing all your other marketing at a much higher level!
And it can be one of the most personally satisfying and rewarding things you will ever do.
Mickey O’Neill is the foremost expert in private radio show development and the nation’s top trainer and coach of private radio show hosts. For more information visit www.MickeyONeill.com; call Mickey direct at 405-550-1466. Find Mickey O’Neill on Facebook.com/AdventMickey; or follow him on Twitter @TheMickeyONeill. Watch for his upcoming book, How to Do Talk Radio for Fun and Profit—Mostly Profit, with a bonus chapter by Michael Kowalski.