(Photo by Andréanne Germain)
Have you been contacted by an organization who is pitching a seemingly great offer: they’ll produce your own radio show and/or invite you to be guest on someone else’s show? It sounds like fame has finally come knocking on you door, or has it?
It seems that all you have to do is simply talk, and people will listen (and your notoriety will grow). The radio station will handle the distribution, scheduling, and technology. You’ll simply need to find topics to talk about and/or guests to interview, and away you go. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is.
Radio stations (whether online-only or broadcast) make money from advertising. For you to get on-air, the money needs to come from somewhere (hint: the radio stations are contacting you to help them make money). So, your first goal is sponsorship. If you already have great relationships with other companies that love your “brand”, then sponsorship may be relatively easy for you to achieve. However, for most of us, sponsors will care about a few things: the number/demographics of your listener base and how the sponsors will benefit. But if you’re just launching your radio show, you don’t have any listeners, so you’ll likely need to self-fund the radio show initially.
Your second goal is listeners. The radio stations will push your message to their existing subscriber base, but that’s likely not to help you much. So, you’ll have to market the show yourself (or hire someone to help you). And with increasingly more competition for listeners, getting sufficient listeners to interest sponsors is hard work (even for the seasoned professionals).
If you’re asked to be a guest on a radio show, ask if there’s a fee involved. A number of organizations offer the “opportunity” to interview you and broadcast your interview in a number of different channels. But it’s ultimately a pay-for-interview model, where the production values of interview isn’t being controlled by people who necessarily place your needs first.
Getting a show on the air may be a nice addition to your professional portfolio (and your ego), but these days it’s easy for people to produce and distribute their own podcast using desktop software. And because it’s easy, it’s not as unique as it once was. If you’re thinking of working with these radio stations, do your homework. Talk to hosts who have shows similar to yours, and carefully listen to their experiences and expenses.