RADIO INTERVIEW 101 Scheduling
New for 2014: Once the promotion/booking phone calls have started, there are a few ways of handling the scheduling needs of the guest and the host. This assumes, of course, that the guest is using a separate person/firm to handle the booking.
First we should point out that the availability of the guest plays a big part in how many interviews can be scheduled. If the guest is only available three days out of a seven day week, then there is going to be less than half of the interviews you'd be able to get otherwise. You would think that all interviews could be packed into the three available days, but the booking person has limited control over what days an interested host has his/her show on. True, you can target certain hosts, but invariably they refer you to others who are "more suitable", and that's where the scheduling conflicts occur.
Morning time (6am to 10am) is going to be a big issue for a lot of guests. As you know, radio puts it's biggest hosts in this morning drive slot, since that's when there are the most listeners. And on most music stations, morning drive is the only time they will do interviews. Busy guests sometimes find it hard talking at these hours. And of course, a west coast person who is interviewing during morning drive on an east coast station is going to have to be up very early.
One thing that works well in morning drive, many times, is that hosts try to put guests as late in the show as possible, because they get a more-awake guest, and the guest gets more listeners (listener numbers peak about 9am). If longer interviews are important to you, you'll want to go after smaller stations, and also target shows that are on weekends. Longer interviews are simply not suited for busy dayparts like morning drive, since a typical listener would only get to hear a few minutes of it while driving to work.
Once it is determined what hours/days the guest is available, you then find out what lead-time the guest needs. Station lead-times are anywhere from zero to 3 weeks. The time is not a function of the size of the station (big shows might have you on the next day if they like you), as it is a function of interview length, especially if it is a pre-taped interview.
If you are seeking very long interviews (a half hour or more), it will be very difficult finding these no matter what stations or hosts you try to schedule with. It can be done, however, with enough marketing.
After an interview has been scheduled, and about 3 days before the interview is to occur, the guest should send a brief reminder letter, fax, email, or even a phone call, to remind the host of the upcoming time and date. Calls are very useful here, since the guest has a chance to make sure he has the correct names (producer, assistant producer), numbers (studio line, hotline, office line), and other bits of info (pronunciation of host's name, show name), etc.
And there is a trick to scheduling too, in order to make the most of the time of the guest. Once you've determined the average length of your interview, you can start packing them into "interview days", so the guest can plan on making non-stop calls for the whole day. And if the host can have a helper pre-call one station while an interview is being conducted at another, the host will be able to jump from one to the next with minimal downtime.
Next topic: Components of a Good Radio Interview, part 1
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