RADIO INTERVIEW 101 - How Many Listeners Do You Really Have?
New for 2014: The advent of the web has caused many people to get caught up in an imaginary world of listeners which does not exist. People "broadcast" their topics, either live or delayed, and are told that millions of people are listening. The purpose of doing their show, or interviewing on someone else's show, is usually to sell a product or service, but at the very least it's to spread the message to a larger group of people; but they wonder why they have not made one dollar from these "broadcasts", or why nobody seems to be getting the message. Can the product or service really be so bad that "millions" of people can be listening but not buying or caring? Fortunately, this is an easy question to answer for yourself, and the technique for doing it comes from: AM and FM radio!
Regular AM and FM radio stations (which this year have an all-time high number of listeners according to Nielsen), long ago needed to come up with a way to figure out how many people were listening. This is because there was no number of "printed copies" that you could count like there was with newspapers. They also had to figure out if listeners preferred live or recorded shows, because as opposed to newspapers (which were always "recorded"), radio had the option of being live too.
Well, the live-or-recorded question was easy to answer: Given the choice of hearing a show live or recorded, listeners prefer live every single time. Matter of fact, in the radio ratings in the U.S. that are now done by Nielsen (formerly Arbitron), almost every show that has any number of listeners at all is done live; and of the top 10 morning shows in any city, none are recorded. Thus radio learned early, and still knows today, that 90% of the listening will be done live even if the listeners have the choice of a recorded option of the same exact show.
Next: How to determine the number of listeners that are hearing you. For live shows or interviews, which is the only option if you don't want to lose 90% of your audience, the technique is easy: Do a free giveaway! You have all heard these being done on AM and FM radio; something like "The 20th caller wins!". And stations will broadcast the NON-winning calls too: "Hello, what's your name and what city are you calling from? Well you're caller 18, sorry you didn't win; Hello, what's your name and what city are you calling from? Well you're caller 19, sorry; Hello, what's your name and what city are you calling from? Well... you're caller 20, and YOU WIN!!". And then they stop answering the phone for a while because it will keep ringing. And in the last ten years, the number of calls you can get is even higher because everyone texts their friends when there is any type of giveaway occurring, and they all call in at once. Thus the listeners win, and the station wins because the number of listeners jumps up during the giveaway. Even small AM or FM stations can overload phone company circuits with the number of simultaneous calls.
If you are interviewing on another person's show, it's pretty easy to set up thus type of give-away: Just get permission from the host and/or producer beforehand, telling them you will doing on-air listener giveaway announcements periodically during the interview (real AM and FM stations love to have winners). Then after you just answered a great question or had a great call from a listener, you say "Wow that was a great question; you Dallas folks sure have some great listeners out there. I'd like to thank you by giving away a 3rd copy of my Best Car Prices e-book, which is normally $14.99. So everyone pull over your cars right now and call my winner line 555-555-5555, and leave your name, city, and email address clearly on the recording, and do it two times, and say you are calling to win the 3rd copy. The tenth message I get wins the e-book! Again, call now, 555-555-5555 and leave your info on the recording. I hope you win!"
If it's your own show, you just need to determine how "exciting" you want it to sound, and what type of item you'll be giving away. Money is always the quickest and easiest, because it's always wanted, and it's easy to deliver (by Paypal). Do something like this: "To thank all you wonderful listeners, I want to give away $20 by Paypal to the 20th person to call our on-air studio phone number, 555-555-5555. Again the call-in number is 555-555-5555. Let's see who wins!." You can broadcast the whole thing if you like, as in the example above, to show all the different people who are listening and where they are located.
A more subtle approach for a live show might be: "All you listeners to my self-help show are just wonderful; you have such good ideas and enthusiasm that I want to thank you by giving away a copy of my Self Help book to the 20th caller. This is a real hard-cover physical book that will be mailed out to you! So we'll take the 20th caller to call our on-air studio phone number, 555-555-5555. Again the call-in number is 555-555-5555. Let's see who wins the book!" And like before, you can broadcast the non-winners too if you like, or just wait for the winner. It's kind of fun though, broadcasting each non-winning call and finding our their names and locations, and it really makes the point that you have listeners from all over. AM and FM stations will sometimes go all the way to the 100th caller!
But how do you do it for a recorded show? Well first, you probably would want to have a voice mailbox to capture the caller's information when it comes in, but you could still do it by answering the phone if you want. The trick with a recorded show is to include a date on your announcements so that the giveaway cannot go on forever for a given prize. Here are some examples:
"I want to thank you listeners for your time and wonderful comments, by giving a way a free hardcover copy of my Self Help book, every week, to the 100th caller! So starting each Monday I'll be checking the voicemails on my winner line at 555-555-5555; again my winner line is 555-555-5555, and the 100th message each week will have my amazing Self Help book mailed to them. Each person can only win once, so I hope it's you! So call 555-555-5555 and leave your name, mailing address, phone number and email address, and also the calendar date that you called, and this Monday I'll announce the winner!" Of course it goes without saying that although you only give away one book per week, you obtain at least 100 names of people who are intensely interested in your topic. Here is another way to do a recorded show, but not involving a date:
"You listeners are amazing! I want to give each and every one of you a free Top 10 list of my secret dog care tips that I've never talked about here on my Dog Care radio show. These Top 10 tips are only a tiny portion of what's available on my paid subscription Dog Care site, but they are really great tips, and they are free to every caller! So call my personal winner line now at 555-555-5555, again that's 555-555-5555, and leave your name and email address, and I'll be checking these messages everyday to see if you are a winner!" This version has the advantage of a no-cost prize, but the trade-off is that less people call because a free list has less value than a physical book (especially a hard cover book).
When you do your give-away announcements, whether live or recorded, you can find out how many people are listening by how many people call you, provided of course that you do the announcement correctly. You must announce a phone number, however, and not just an email, because the many listeners which are listening outdoors (which is all people in cars) will only contact you if they can call immediately; they will not wait until they get back home. Matter of fact, with AM or FM radio, 90 of 100 calls come immediately after the phone number is announced; maybe only a few will have written the number down to call later. So if you want to keep 90% of your responses, use a phone number.
And lastly, don't be surprised if you get very few calls from an online-only radio show. Regardless of how many listeners you are told are listening, you will find out for sure when you do you own giveaways. (Hint: Don't do a cash giveaway on a regular AM or FM radio show; you're phone may never stop ringing!) Many online "stations" use robots to generate fake numbers of listeners, including fake comments and emails, and we don't want you falling for this.
Happy winning and listener counting!
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