|RADIO INTERVIEW 101 Which Radio Stations to Choose?
New for 2013: What elements affect the choice of radio stations when approaching them for interviews? There are over 13,000 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada... you can't target them all, so how do you narrow the list?
First, let's make clear that there are two separate schools of radio publicity... First is the "shotgun" campaign, whereby you fax/mail/email every station in existence and then wait for replies. Most people usually email, and most people get no replies (except from college stations). Second is the "promotion" campaign, whereby you pre-select stations most amenable to you, and then start a promotion process of "awareness building" towards the people at these stations for several months; when the people are aware enough, and if there is a fit, and if they like the person who's calling them, we then have interviews. We follow this second school, especially with larger stations, because they are sought after much more than smaller stations, and thus they will not respond to a simple email/fax/mailing. Why should they? They are getting personal calls about well-known guests that they can interview.
When choosing stations to approach for interviews, people tend to want the biggest radio stations (and radio shows) in the country, and they want it to happen in two days. This is equivalent to starting a soda pop company and wanting to get the soda into McDonalds right away.... it isn't going to happen, no matter how much better tasting your soda is than Coke. The proper approach with soda is to go after the mom and pop grocery stores first. The proper approach with interviews is to go after the smaller and medium markets first. Smaller stations will generate more business for you, because they give you the best overall mix of the three magic numbers: Number of listeners; number of minutes, and number of announcements. Larger stations have more listeners (if you can get through), but don't give you enough minutes, and rarely allow you any announcements.
FORMAT: If you are a typical radio listener, you may not know which particular formats to approach, much less the divisions within the formats. You must choose the format(s) which attracts the listeners you want to reach. For example, if the station you listen to plays Celine Dion, or if they air the Delilah or Casey Casem shows, then you are probably listening to an Adult Contemporary (AC) station. These stations attract mostly females 25-54 years old, and are divided into "mainstream" and "soft". You need to know specifics, like the fact that the soft ones typically don't do many interviews, even on the morning show.
MORNING SHOW ENERGY: Morning shows (mon-fri) are the hotbed of activity for interviews, not only because they have more radio listeners than any other time of day, but also because they do more interviews overall. However, morning shows among different stations vary greatly (even within the same format and division) as to how much they let happen during the show. An example mainstream AC station in Des Moines might have 4 guests (1 per hour) during their morning show because they want a lot of morning action, whereas another mainstream AC in San Jose might have none, ever. And even if they do have interviews, remember that the person you are talking to there MUST like you on the phone first, before they'll book anything you are promoting.
SATELLITE/SYNDICATION: Approaching a station that gets some of its programming from satellite (or CDs) means that there is that much less opportunity at that station. There are thousands of stations with no syndication or satellite at all, and there are thousands more that carry from one to twelve hours a day of satellite programming. And then there are several hundred stations that are 100% satellite, meaning there is absolutely nothing they can do for you. (And, you may never know they are satellite by listening to them... some of them are designed to sound very local.) And on top of this, they can change monthly.
CHANGES: To further complicate matters, stations (especially in the last decade) have undergone personnel and format changes frequently. However, this is actually a plus, since a new morning show producer is more open to considering interviews with people he has not talked to before, whereas a long-termed producer may well have his/her plate full with contacts that have been dealt with for years. To make the best use of personnel changes, a large number (250 to 1000) of stations needs to be promoted to; you'll be guaranteed to find one or two changes every day.
Next topic: Picking the Proper Format, part 1 of 2
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