Talk Radio for Fun and Profit—Mostly Profit
By: Mickey O’Neill
There’s a lot of talk about talk radio and the people who host their own shows. In this two-part article, we’ll take a hard look at the subject, why people do talk radio, whether it’s right for you, and, if it is, how to go about choosing and negotiating with radio stations. First, why would anyone invest the time, effort and money to host a privately owned talk radio show?
Why Do Your Own Show?
Nothing delivers customers to your business like being the expert everyone knows, likes and trusts! And nothing creates credibility, extends reach, or builds that “know, like and trust” factor like hosting your own talk radio show. You can’t do it with commercials, print ads, or your web site, and certainly not with advertorials. And, while hosting your own talk radio show is not for everyone, if it is for you, and if you do it right, it will revolutionize the way everyone in your market sees you.
- Current customers will be more willing to refer new business to you.
- Prospects will more readily take your calls, open your emails and accept your offerings.
- All other marketing will work better because everyone will know who you are.
According to Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, by Al Reis and Jack Trout, human beings only hold about three brands from any category in their minds. Think about it. What are the top three soft drinks? That’s not a hard one, but how about the top three toothpastes? Top three overnight document shippers? Top three hotel chains, airlines, car rental companies?
The book cover says positioning is “how to be seen and heard in the overcrowded marketplace.” And that was written over 20 years ago! How much more crowded is your marketplace today? And what is your plan for establishing yourself among the top three people in your field?
Do radio right, and you will become a new feature, like a mountain, on the mental landscape of everyone in your market. When they think of your area of expertise, it will be impossible for them NOT to think of you. You will be the standard for what someone in your business should be, and your competitors will have to be satisfied with trying to measure up to you. You will own the top position.
Is Having a Radio Show Right for You?
It takes a special person to do well with a radio show, but not necessarily in the ways you think.
- You don’t need a “radio voice,” but you do need to know how to voice your opinions.
- You don’t have to know all the answers, you just have to be honest when you don’t, and be willing to find the answer for your next show.
- You don’t have to be the most experienced in your field, but it helps to be the most excited.
- You don’t have to be on the number one station at the best possible time, you just need a viable time on a viable station and a plan for how to get people to listen.
- You don’t have to please everyone who tunes in; you just have to be bold about the truth.
- You won’t get on the air free, so you will need to have some money to get started.
- You may not get business directly from the show within the first several weeks, but when you start getting business, it’ll be with people who already know, like and trust you.
Your success depends on doing your show right, consistently.
Choosing a Station
Typically, you want to be on the best news talk station you can. Why news talk? Because your show is going to be very much like that format, so that’s the kind of station people will tune into when looking for the kind of information you’ll be sharing.
How do you know which station is the best? It’s usually the one with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. They’re the top three talk show hosts in America. But with the right time slot and promotion, most talk radio stations can serve your marketing needs.
The better stations are unlikely to sell you a Monday through Friday prime time slot for any amount, so the best time slots you can get will probably be on the weekend. Generally, your best bet is morning. Anytime between 7:00 AM and 1:00 PM would be fine, and that goes for both Saturday and Sunday.
To promote your show, begin with the station playing your show. Run promotional spots during the week directing people to your weekend show. Beyond that, use every other marketing outreach at your disposal: Mention your show in any print advertising you do, on your business card, in your seminar materials, your phone’s message on hold system, Facebook, your web site, Twitter, and vanity tags on your car!
Your show content is your blog content, and vice versa. You want to live this thing.
Negotiating With Stations
Whether you have only on choice or many, once you’re ready to move forward, it’s time to start negotiating with the stations. As always, money is only a part of the negotiations. You want to make sure you’re getting enough promotional spots, free use of their recording facilities, and a dozen other factors. In this case, it’s often best to have representation. There are two reasons.
First, in some cases, especially at the better stations, you may have to satisfy the programming director that your show will be worthy of his station. His job performance is judged by the station’s ratings, and he takes great pride in the quality of the shows he airs. This is the person who will ask you for an air check, a demonstration recording of your show. If that comes up, it could be a tough hurdle.
Second, there really are at least a dozen items you won’t think about. And often, the station will happily give them to you at no charge just for asking, if you ask in the right way. Items like permission to use the station’s logo in your other advertising, interviews on their station-owned programs, and maybe even a press release welcoming you to the team. Stations don’t mind giving up these items in negotiations, but they’re not going to suggest you take them. You want these items.
Now you know the basics of why you might want your own show, and how to get started with the right station. In the second half of this two-part article, we’ll look at—
- Strategy Should you go live or recorded, guests or no guests, co-host or solo, selling or educational? These important questions and many more have to be answered before you launch.
- Formatics The magical ways real radio hosts distinguish themselves from mere mortals! (Don’t worry, there is no flying required, and you don’t have to wear tights either!)
- Content Secret, FREE sources that will supply you with national-caliber guests who are eager to send you free copies of their books just for the privilege of being interviewed on your show!
- Connection How you convert casual listeners from passers-by to regular listeners to fans, the kinds of fans who tell their friends they need to tune in to your show!
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.