How Authors Can Get Booked on a Radio Talk Show & Conduct a First Class Interview

radio-studioToday, book publicist Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications is honored to have the pleasure of interviewing nationally syndicated talk show host George Woods. The topic, How to be an Outstanding Talk Radio Guest

Scott:
Hello George thank you for participating in our interview. George, please tell our readers a little about your professional background.

George:
I’ve been in radio for 25+ years hosting talk shows on KCMO in Kansas City and KTRS in St. Louis. I’ve got radio in my blood and I know a good story when I hear one. I’ve interviewed thousands of guests and have been the recipient of tens of thousands of pitches. So believe me when I tell you I know what makes an outstanding talk show guest and the pitch that gets my attention.

Scott:
Why should an author work to get booked on talk radio?

George:
Self-published writers, nationally-known writers, performers, salespeople, inventors, true believers—everyone wants to get on the over 1,000 talk radio stations in the country (1) for ego satisfaction, (2) to spread their personal gospel, and (3) to sell more stuff and make more money. Plus radio talk shows need content everyday so we are constantly looking for authorities on subjects our listening audience would like to hear about. It’s really a symbiotic relationship.

Scott:
How important are the authors’ credentials in getting booked on a radio show?

George:
Let me answer your question with a question or two: If you wanted help for a medical problem, would you call a railroad engineer? If you needed information on gardening, would you call a car dealership? Heck no! I receive dozens of emails, calls, faxes and letters every day that are pitches from would-be guests who are not the best person to be discussing a particular topic. So, yes, credentials and experience are very important.

Scott:
What is the best way for authors to get booked on a talk show?

George:
First of all target only those talk shows that are likely to be a good fit for your information or material. The author or the publicist will have to know the slant of various shows or stations. If a station is all-sports, they’re not going to be interested in the new miracle wonder diet for women or a book on how to communicate with your dead pets. A news/ politics show isn’t interested in the joys of cooking with herbs or having a successful garage sale. Just as you would tailor a talk or speech, knowing who your audience will be in advance, do the same for your pitch to be on a particular show. Yes—this takes a lot of extra time and money from the usual “mass mailing” approach. But the best results come from the best preparation.

Scott:
If email is the best way to reach you why do you pass on so many pitches?

George:
Over 90% of the emails coming in to me are trashed or simply unanswered. Why? Because most guest wannabes use a blind shotgun approach, sending their press releases and emails to hosts whose shows are not suited to their offering. Talk shows that are news/political in nature aren’t going to bring on the author of “My Uncle Is an Alien!” or someone with a “new and unique” spin on collecting stamps.

Scott:
How does an author compel you to open an email and read it?

George:
Tell me EXACTLY what you’re all about in your headline, subject line, or phone message. Get to the point – FAST.

Scott:
Just to be clear give me examples of good and bad subject lines.

George:
Here are two verbatim examples of emails I received that were trashed immediately based on the subject line:

• New Book! Author Available for Interview Guest
• It’s Vacation Time

And here are two that got my attention:

• In 150 years of presidential campaigns, has anything changed?
• How to Beat Those Long Airport Delays

Note that not only do the second two tell me exactly what the material is about, but also, the subjects pertain to the news/political category, which my station happened to specialize in.

Scott:
How can an author improve the chances they’ll get the nod for a radio interview?

George:
Localize your material for EACH show or market as much as possible. How is my local audience affected by your information? What benefit will they get? Why should they listen to what you have to say? Here’s another email subject line that caught my attention, combining all three tips so far: Experts Available-Missouri’s Economy vs. New Energy Bills

Scott:
What can an author do to prepare for an interview?

George:
Visit the radio station’s website to familiarize yourself with the station and its overall personality. Maybe pick up one SHORT piece of information you can include when you’re on the air that makes you more “local” and not just a strange voice on the phone on the other side of the country. For example you could mention the host’s alma mater or the score of the baseball game the night before or the name of a local politician.

Scott:
What is the purpose of a Pre-Air call and what should the guest be concerned with?

George:
Plan to have a pre-air call. A phone call with the person with whom you will be talking (or that person’s producer) not only establishes a little rapport, but will add an enormous amount of familiarity that sounds great on the air both for you and your host. It enables you to cover any fine points on both ends that you need to know, such as exact amounts of time you will actually be on the air; a 10-minute slot may wind up being 6 minutes after regular program features and commercials. Clear up any questions you or the host may have BEFORE you go on the air and waste precious time!

Scott:
I understand you recommend that authors create a one pager for the talk show host. Explain that for us.

George:
Ah yes, I call it The Magic Page. Fax or Email the most pertinent information about you, your information or material, on a single 8 ½ x 11 sheet for show host use. Make it easy to read, uncluttered, and include no more than five bulleted major talk points. Hosts don’t want or need lots of paper when they’re talking live. Also, be sure to include easy phonetic pronunciations for any unusual or ambiguous names or words.

Scott:
How often should a guest mention their web site or name of the book etc.?

George:
Don’t Oversell. If you are an author or selling something, limit yourself to TWO mentions of price, where, or how to order during your visit, one about midway through and another about a minute before the scheduled end time.

Scott:
What can a guest do to endear themselves to the talk show host and get invited back?

George:
Definitely follow up your appearance with a mailed, personally signed thank-you note. So few people do this, you’ll really stand out from the crowd. Believe me, it gets noticed more today than ever in this day of email.

Scott:
What else can a future “outstanding talk show guest” do to improve their chances of getting booked?

George:
Be sure to update your radio station contact list once a year. Make sure that you’re sending information to the right person, not to someone who left four years ago (yep–another true happening); that the station’s format has not changed dramatically; and that the station/host still wants to receive info from you.

Scott:
Do you have a list of resources where future talk show guests can find some of these talk radio stations?

George Woods:
Try these:
Talk radio information at your fingertips • www.newslink.org
Great list of talk stations by city and state • www.radio-locator.com
Excellent list of stations and links • www.freedomkeys.com/stationfinders.htm
Esoteric radio links www.shgresources.com/resources/radio
A huge list, easy to use. This one has links to listen live online if the station offers live streaming

Scott:
If someone would like to get booked on your radio show how do they reach you?

George:
Send a note to:
George Woods, 14409 W 83 PL, Lenexa, KS 66215-4172 or an email to:
george@georgewoods.com

Scott:
What are your plans for the future?

George:
I am currently developing talk radio stations that’ll focus on non-political talk and are available for syndication both on the Internet and traditional radio. And, I am developing more than a dozen Internet radio stations in both talk and music formats. So I am kind of busy right now but thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed for a change! But, let me turn the tables here for a minute. Let me ask YOU a few questions.

George:
What do you do as a book publicist that the author can’t do himself?

Scott:
Man you’re good! Basically I have a nose for news and know what the media will want to hear about so I can craft a pitch that they’ll bite on. Plus I already have all the media databases and more importantly contacts that I’ve been working with for 20+ years. I’ve followed some members of the media from internship at a local paper, then to a big city radio station and then on to TV anchor in a top ten market. They trust me when I give them a pitch. You can’t beat relationships that go way back. But, a good story trumps everything, the problem is that most books are not breaking news in nature so that’s where we come in and make it relevant now.

George:
Do you follow my advice?

Scott:
Yes, pretty much, although I could send out a few more hand signed thank you notes; however I do suggest that to my clients. It’s a nice touch and it does work.

Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with individuals and entrepreneurs to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz has handled public relations and marketing for numerous authors, doctors, lawyers, inventors and entrepreneurs. As a book marketing expert Lorenz is called upon by top execs and bestselling authors to promote their books. Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at www.westwindcos.com/book or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090.

Comments

  1. says

    The advice is right on the money.This is a primer for authors looking to increase their chances of being booked unto a radio talk show and maximizing their time on air. Great stuff!

  2. Bettie Witherspoon Wright says

    Thank you very much for your advice. I am trying to get my memoir out in the publice eye as a best seller. I know if it’s out here it will sell. It’s a fun book! “I didn’t Miss Much.” is all about my growing to become who I am today, happy content and celebrating with my husband 70 years of marriage in September.
    Sincerely Bettie w. Wright