How To: Promote Your Cause on Morning Radio
What sways the deejays?
By Buddy Baron
Do you have a cause, a Toastmasters event, a new product or book that needs an immediate shot of electronic publicity?
Let’s say you have just finished a book about the historical homes in your town and you’ve arranged a little book signing at the local coffeehouse. You’ve sent an announcement to the newspaper. Now what?
Even in the smallest towns with only one newspaper, there are usually several radio stations – and most of them have live morning shows.
Don’t be put off if none of the local stations are of the news/talk variety that airs a lot of interviews. All stations do interviews at one time or another. Yes, even the rock stations with the goofy morning deejays have guests on their shows. (Keep reading to learn how to charm these guys).
Almost every radio station has a Web site these days, listing contact information, names and addresses, even bios, photos and e-mail addresses of the on-air staff. Start by calling the radio station and asking for the morning show host by name.
In larger cities, you may need to contact the morning show producer. This is usually a younger staff member who’s just starting his or her career and is responsible for arranging any and all needs of the show – including booking guests.
Make your contact calls at least two weeks ahead of when you want to be on. Try for an interview date the day before or the day of your event.
Bring a brief, to-the-point written description of your event. This will help you explain your interview request in the most concise way. Even after you reach a radio station employee by phone, he or she will probably ask for a fact sheet to be faxed or e-mailed. Prepare to do both.
This initial phone contact is really an audition. If the deejay or show producer hears that you are well spoken, personable and engaging, your chances at getting booked increase. Also...if your topic is of great local interest, as in a historical homes guide, emphasize that. Radio stations are always looking for good local events to talk about, even to get involved in.
Many times, you can get an okay for the interview right away. Or the producer needs to run it past the show hosts. That’s normal. Just make sure you get the e-mail address of the person you talked to so you can send a thank-you note. Also, make sure they have all your contact information so they can let you know what time to appear.
If you don’t get the booking, don’t despair! They may have a crowded calendar, or they simply don’t feel your project would be a good fit for their audience and format. That’s why you contact every radio station that can be heard in the geographical area surrounding your event.
Morning radio begins very early in the morning! So be prepared to get up before dawn.
If it’s a phone interview, please call exactly when they suggest. Some will want to call you. Be ready with everything you need to tell your story. Think about every possible question they could ask about your event and know your answers. Try not to read them off a sheet. You can always tell when people are reading something – they sound monotonous and dull.
If it’s an in-studio interview, know where the radio station is located. Ask the contact where the broadcast studio is (it’s sometimes different from the phone book address). You might be looking for this place in the dark, so run a Google map and know where you’re going. You might try a practice run the day before.
As you’re heading to the radio station, allow time to stop off and buy doughnuts. Believe me, it’s a welcome sight when a guest brings Krispy Kremes!
You’ll probably arrive before regular business hours, so everything will be locked up. Many times, there’s a back door with a buzzer and an intercom. Or, you may need your cell phone to call your contact and have them let you in.
Late is death in morning radio. Usually every minute of the hour is slotted for something, so if you are supposed to be interviewed at 7:10 a.m. and you roll in at 7:15, the show has moved on and you probably won’t be on it. Try to get there 20 minutes ahead of your interview time. Once they see you’ve arrived, they can relax and start announcing that you’ll be “coming up in minutes.”
When it’s time for the interview, you’ll be invited into the studio. It’s a room with a large mixing console, loudspeakers and microphones hanging everywhere. You might get a minute to chitchat with the morning show personalities ahead of time, but not much more. Bring the doughnuts in the studio and several copies of your fact sheet (with your name on top so they know what to call you).
If you want a copy of your performance, bring along a new blank cassette tape. Ask if they wouldn’t mind making an “aircheck” (recording off the air) of your interview. Hand your tape to whoever is running the console. Don’t forget to get the recorded tape as you leave.
They’ll have you sit in front of one of the microphones and may offer you headphones to wear. Put them on so you can hear all the questions clearly.
Speak directly into the microphone. And don’t lean into the mike each time you speak. Just place your face about six inches in front and speak right into it.
Most morning shows feature several deejays, so they may be firing questions at you from all different directions. Don’t get flustered. This is where your Toastmaster training kicks in! Just be your charming and engaging self.
If you are a funny person and you’re on a zany morning show, have fun with it. If it’s a more serious-minded interviewer, play it straight. Try to blend with the flow of the program you’re on while still being yourself.
Once it’s all done, thank everybody, get your aircheck tape and get out of there. They have several more hours of show to do, and you (hopefully) have several more morning show interviews to go to. Good luck.
Buddy Baron is a veteran morning radio host and freelance writer living in Laurel, Mississippi.