RADIO INTERVIEW 101 Getting Radio Interviews in the U.S. for Indie Films, part 2 of 3
Of the 14,000 broadcast AM and FM radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, which ones should you try to get interviews on for your indie film? And, should you try to go after web radio, podcasts, etc.? The assumption of this article is that you want to be paid for people to view your movies; thus you need as many people as possible to hear your interviews. Therefore the following stations will NOT work:
Web/online radio: These internet "radio" stations were not designed to have large numbers of listeners; their purpose instead is to allow listeners to select from very niche-specific (and fascinating!) material that cannot be found anywhere else. Matter of fact, these stations have to pay money for every listener who listens, so it's in their interest to have few listeners, and then just "appear" to have a lot. They do this by quoting large numbers of listeners, which are false. They actually average just a few people who are listening in one second (it's irrelevant how many listen "throughout the week"). Interviews on these stations are a dime a dozen, due to the fact that because they have no listeners, there are no publicity or film entities trying to pursue them. So in order for these stations to have any guests at all, they have to go out and find them. (As a listener, however, you get to choose from an unbeatable array of incredible topics).
College radio: Non-commercial college AM/FM stations were also not designed to have large numbers of listeners; the purpose instead is to teach students how to do radio shows, and college stations are great at doing this (and many other things). But college stations have very small transmitters, and sometimes no transmitters, so reaching listeners is not going to happen. They average just a few people who are listening in one second (again, it's irrelevant how many listen "throughout the week"). So these stations also have to go out and look for guests.
Podcasts: These are the same as online radio. Matter of fact, if you are in need of convincing as to the lack of listeners of these "stations", ask yourself: Have you ever, even once, seen a billboard for a web/online/podcast/college radio station? How about a TV ad for same? How about a bus bench? These techniques are the way that regular AM/FM commercial stations get real quantities of listeners.
Community radio: These non-commercial radio stations are the ones that sometimes carry NPR programming, so you might know them as the "NPR" stations. They are not associated with a college, so their purpose is not to teach students. Their purpose is to actually reach listeners, and thus they have much larger transmitters. These stations actually do reach a few listeners, and may be pursued if you think you'll have a great interview on one. But no large (or even medium) number of sales will come from them. They average probably 100 people who are listening in one second (again, please understand, it's irrelevant how many listen "throughout the week" because your interview is not airing throughout the week). These stations are known by many people in the community, and thus they do have some people approaching them for interviews. But they still venture out and seeks guests who are of more interest to them, and thus they are easy to get.
Unrated-market commercial radio: These are the small farm and country stations that you listen to when driving between two larger cities. These smaller in-between stations are the first ones in our list that actually have what we call "listeners"; they average about 150 people listening in one second. As with community stations, these stations are known by many in the rural community, and thus they do have some people approaching them for interviews. But they similarly will venture out and seeks guests who are of more interest to them. If you are visible, they may have found and contacted you already. And although these are the easiest commercial stations to get, and are also great for interview practice, they still do not reach enough people to make any real quantity of sales (unless your movie is about farm/country life!)
Now for the stations that you SHOULD consider:
Start with small-market rated commercial stations. They are "rated" for a reason: They have enough listeners to be taken seriously when it comes to selling product. They average about 300 people who are listening in one second. And they also are in small towns that you may have heard of. This means that they don't actively have to seek out guests, since they have enough guests/publicists approaching them to keep them happy. This also means that you won't get through as easily as with the other smaller stations above.
Next up for consideration are the medium-market commercial stations. They average about 3,000 people listening in one second, and can make a film-sales career for you even if you pursued no other group (since they have so many listeners, and since there are so many of these stations.) But, since every film entity and publicist (including those with major names) are approaching these stations, they have a much tighter system of controlling who gets through. This means that if you even get to talk to anyone besides the receptionist, you still have some work to do to convince them to have you. These stations might take five times the effort, on average, to get the same number of interviews as on small-market stations.
Finally, there are the major-market stations. They average about 30,000 people listening in once second, and therefore they are the main target of the best promoters at every film company and film publicity house in the world, usually with top-priority film projects of the week. It is true that a decent interview on one of these stations can sell many thousands of dollars of product, but it's also true that their main goal is to NOT talk to 99 percent of the people that call them. They sometimes employ "decoy" assistants, so if you are the one percent that gets past the receptionist, you may only be talking to someone who is paid to make you think you are getting somewhere ("Oh, that sounds like an interesting movie; please send info"), when in reality that person is not telling a sole about it. It's just business you understand, and it has to be done or else they would be out of business because of all the wasted time. And they've even been known to direct you to decoy voicemails, which never get listened to (of course this will never be admitted to you, no matter how good you think you are friends with a radio person.)
So, here are the listings of major-market stations (all are "rated"), ranked according to how many listeners they have (click on a city, then look at the numbers on the right-hand side; a "5.2" means that a station has 5.2 percent of all the listeners that are listening to radio in that city)...
Here are the listings of medium- and small-market stations (all are "rated"), also ranked according to how many listeners they have (choose a city from the drop-down list; then click on a heading such as "SU09" (which is Summer 2009), and it will sort from high to low)...
If a station does not show up in the Rankings of either one of the above, then basically it has very few listeners. And you will notice that there are no web/online stations that show up anywhere at all.
Lastly, here are the markets (cities):
Major markets are number 1 to 30
Medium markets are number 31 to 100
Small markets are number 101 to 286
Unrated markets are smaller than number 286...
Next topic: Getting Radio Interviews in the U.S. for Indie Films, part 3 of 3
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