|RADIO INTERVIEW 101 Picking the Proper Format, part 1
New for 2013: If you are going to start a radio interview campaign, you will want to choose the proper format. It may seem this is due to the need of matching your topic to the right format (sort of true), but it is really for another reason: Radio people at different stations talk, to each other, but they do so mostly within the same format. And there are even other reasons beyond this.
Larger stations want to see you do successful interviews with smaller stations in their format before they chance it themselves. And smaller stations like to follow what works with larger stations in their format. So here are some specifics on choosing what format to start with...
Country: The main advantage of country stations is that they are mostly small and mostly independently owned; thus an interview with a guest (you) who is relatively unknown in their town is accomplished easier than with a large station owned by a large group owner. And since there are more country stations than any other format, you could conceivably spend your whole career in just this format. Within the format, however, country varies widely as to how/if they book interviews; in general, they don't interview as much as other formats, but do interview more than other formats. And country stations are all commercial; this means they all have listeners (as compared to non-commercial, college, or web stations, which don't).
Oldies: We classify oldies at 1920's to 1980's, all styles. You'll have an easier time with 60's, 70's and 80's, not because of the music, but because of the energy level of the format. Morning drive is probably your only chance, unless they have weekend programs that are non-music. These stations obviously attract an older audience, and all oldies stations are commercial.
Religious: The Christian and Gospel stations that make up the religious radio community are great, in that they do lots of interviews within the religious sector. Secular guests, however, have a much harder time getting on, although it's not impossible. Keep in mind, however, that a lot of "religious" stations do not do full-time religious programming; they many times have totally unrelated shows late night during the week, and sometimes all of the weekends. And the religious format is one of the few that is split between commercial and non-commerical.
News/Talk/Sports: These stations are naturals for interviews, and the interviews don't necessarily have to be in morning drive. You have to view a news/talk/sports station as group of different shows around-the-clock, instead of viewing it as a single station. Each host (or producer) makes up his or her own mind when it comes to booking interviews. Keep this in mind, as it takes contacting 5 or 10 people at a single station, instead of just one or two like at a music station. The big exception at news/talk stations is syndicated shows. You might know a few of the biggest syndicated names, but most of the smaller ones, who you would swear are local, are nowhere near the station. Syndicated shows are generally the most difficult to get interviewed on, because of the number of people they reach. "News" and "sports" stations are all commercial, but the "talk-only" format is split between commercial and non-commercial.
Jazz: Real jazz stations are all non-commercial, have very few listeners, and only interview jazz artists. "Smooth jazz" stations are all commercial, have large listenerships, but rarely interview anyone.
Classical: These stations, while they have the highest-income listeners of all formats, do not do interviews.
Rock/Alternative: Everyone knows the typical rock station. Morning shows and late night shows are your best bet. For most of you reading this, your main focus should be to separate the "classic rock" from the "mainstream rock" and "alternative" stations. Classic rock falls into the oldies category, where it is easier to book, whereas rock/alternative usually wants artists that they are currently playing. And all these stations are commercial, as long as you are not counting college stations, which we define as "miscellaneous".
Next topic: Picking the Proper Format, part 2 of 2
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