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SYNDICATION 101... Charging For Your Show

The pinnacle that some hosts strive for is getting cash for their show. Many hosts try and then give up, ending up relying on barter (except for the top super-shows, which are not the focus here anyway.) Getting cash for a NEW show is extremely difficult, but not impossible. Reasons for the difficulty are:

o Every station has the option of airing hundreds of other competing shows, and all of them are barter (or even free).

o There is a trade-out mentality in radio (and media in general), and stations prefer to trade just about everything they can. Since almost every company in a city wants to get its name announced by a station, the station can trade the announcements for whatever it needs.

o You and your show are not delivering any hard goods to the stations; just content. Content alone has little perceived value to a station.

o Having to pay for a show adds an element of transactional hassle, not the least of which could (in their minds) cause a hiccup if you somehow don't receive your payment.

o Payment causes a sense of accountability, in that stations feel more obligated to treat the show properly, and this would require extra effort on their part.

While it is possible to build up your barter station-count to a very high number and then switch to cash, you would probably lose 90 percent of the stations that you had, no matter how little you charged. A better way would be to just start charging all new stations that come on after a certain number of barter ones. But nevertheless, most new hosts/shows still want to start out with cash immediately.

If getting cash were even a little more feasible, then there would be fewer syndication companies, and a lot more sales teams. But producing the show is the easy part, sometimes done quite well by just one person (i.e., Art Bell). Marketing the show in a barter fashion to a million listeners, however, requires a staff of syndication promoters, affiliate relations, public relations, ad sales, station promotions, field sales, and other folks which probably total over 40 people. Although it takes a lot of people, barter does work.

That aside, there are certain situations where cash situations can occur. The first is if the host / syndicator has a very strong presence in the field / genre / format that the show is being pitched to. Maybe the host was a governor, or head of a well-know company, or is a widely-read and respected writer in a consumer publication. If the stations feel that this host is a rare (and WELL-known) find, then they may pay a small fee for it, just like local organizations might pay for the same person to speak at their meetings or conventions.

A more practical way to get cash for a new show is the mental trick of mailing your show (on CD) to stations in a package that has some value outside of the show itself; this way, stations would feel they are paying for the item, and not just the show. Things that are usable and valuable to the station staff are what you want; also things that also tie into the mantra of the show. You want an item that has many different types or brands, so that you won't run out of them after just a year. And of course, the items must be available in quantity at a good price (through you, at least), otherwise the stations would have no reason to buy them from you. And the items must be easily mailable or deliverable. Some ideas are...

o Wine show: A different bottle of wine for each show.

o Car show: A different car accessory for each show.

o Money show: An investment book, cassette, or video.

o Garden show: A Garden tool or book.

o Comedy show: A board game or comedy video.

o Handyman show: A tool, book or video.

o Cooking show: A book or cooking utensil/device.

If the price of your item is too low (thus not being cost-effective to pack and mail every week,) consider packaging 4 weeks/shows together, along with just one (more expensive) item.

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