Tic Toc 12 O’Clock Tech Talk – A Radio Format Talk Show Concept

Not long ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who was interested in getting into radio. Interestingly enough, I’ve always been a late-night radio listener over the years, and I wouldn’t mind doing something like that myself. As we got to talking, we wondered if radio is dead, and if these days people’s time is so divided between the Internet, social networks, and television that there aren’t many people listening anymore.

Nevertheless, that isn’t exactly so, and the top syndicated radio stations which play in the late-night do seem to have quite a following, and there is less competition at night. Perhaps that’s because there is a limited audience, and the best shows win out, while everyone else is competing for prime time drive times during the workday commutes. Regardless of why things are the way they are, I know that I am mostly a night person, and do most of my best thinking and work in the evening hours.

This is more common than you think, as many folks who are interested in technologies, innovation, science fiction, and intellectual discourse are also night time people. So, what about a midnight run radio show specializing in technology topics; Tech Talk – would that be a decent radio talk show format? Well, it turns out that there are some tech talk stations, but only a few of them are syndicated which run in the evening hours. I am quite surprised more people aren’t doing this because that’s when their audiences are listening.

Of course, if the tech talk radio personality becomes quite popular and syndicated, they can probably move to the daytime hours allowing for more listeners. Still, if you are a newbie trying to break into radio, there’s a fat chance in hell that a local well listened to radio station will give you the time of day, but they might give you some night time venue play. Is it worth a shot? Well, that’s where our conversation led while we’re at the local Starbucks discussing the late-night talk show radio opportunities.

Personally, if there were a station that played tech talk in the evening hours in my locality, I would definitely listen. And, I’m sure others would, especially those that work the night shift. If you are thinking about getting into radio, you’re going to have to put in some hard work to get things going, why not start in the evening where there is little or no competition until you work yourself up to the quality level needed to participate in the prime time drive times of the daily commuters? Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Radio Talk Show – How to Plan Your First Talk Show

Obviously you will want to have already conducted your solo tests, test calls with friends and your first full mock up of, or “Dress Rehearsal”, of an actual show you plan to do. You should do it with a friend playing the part of your guest or if your first guest is up for it, rehearsing with your first guest would be preferable.

But now that you feel you are ready to do your first show, you need to decide if you are going to do all the talking yourself as the expert on a particular subject or if you are going to interview a guest expert on the subject.

If you don’t already know someone personally in your niche that will or has agreed to be interviewed on your talk show, you will need to find that expert.

How To Find And Prep Your Guest Expert

There are numerous ways you can find experts in any particular niche that will agree to be a guest on your talk show. But you don’t necessarily want to start out with the most well know and sought after personality in your niche. Especially if they are making money from speaking engagements or are big enough in the industry to be able to demand payment for an interview. To start out with you want someone that is known or has credentials that make them well thought of by people in your target audience regardless whether they have heard of them or not.

You can start going to forums or going back to forums that cater to your niche market and looking for people that stand out or seem to intelligently answer a lot of question of other forum members.

If you find in their signature file in there forum posts that they are promoting a particular product that has to do with the niche, all the better. They will probably appreciate the chance at the exposure potential of your show, and say yes gladly when you finally ask them for an interview. If they appear to be an authority on a certain subject of your niche, you can Private Message them through the forum with a straight forward request like:

Hello (Their Name),

I am (Your Name), host of the (Name of your talk show), I have been reading your posts here in the forum for a while and really appreciate how knowledgeable you are about (Niche subject), and how well thought out and articulate your posts are.

I would like to interview you on my show in the near future. This could mean some additional exposure for you and (what ever it is they are promoting). If you would be open to an interview, please reply to this PM with just your email address if you would like to firm up a time when we could talk by phone or your contact information and the best time to contact you.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

It’s that simple. However, you have contacts that know one or more experts in your niche you can always get them to refer you to the person.

You can find people that would be open to doing an interview in forums, blogs, social sites, or even at local businesses and associations using the same basic approach as above.

Discovery Call

You want to actually talk with your potential guest either on the phone or if they are local maybe even in person. You want to keep the discovery call short and not take up a lot of their time. Give them a little bit of your background and maybe why you decided to go into Internet Talk Radio. Get a little bit of their background and how they got so involved in gaining the expertise in the field of your niche audience.

Once you have actually done a discovery call with your first guest to kind of get to know each other, let them know that it is Internet Talk Radio and that they won’t have to come into a studio, they will call into your show from a land line from the comfort of their home or office and most will agree to an interview. Once he/she has agreed to be interviewed be sure you get their email address if you don’t already have it and let them know you will need to do one pre-interview call with them just so they can get an understanding of your show format, some of the questions you would like to ask and to cover anything they have in mind that they would like to promote at the end of the interview.

Also be sure you they agree to the date and time slot to be a guest on your show.

Set a time for your pre-interview call 3 to 4 days before the actual interview. Be sure you have exchanged all the pertinent contact information. Be sure to tell them that if something comes up that may prevent them from appearing on your show on the agreed date to be sure and let you know. Thank them for their time and conclude the call.

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Ever listen to a talk show on the radio? And ever wonder how those experts on the shows got to be there?

The dirty secret is that they shamelessly pushed themselves onto the program. And while it sounds both dirty and shameless, the reality is that going on to talk programs is a great way to promote your work in a way that’s both low-key, and effective.

Plus: even if you can’t be on a particular program, you can benefit from talk shows, as a caller.

The secret in both situations is to remember my rule: you are there to provide information, and not to sell your service or product.

Which doesn’t mean you won’t sell your work. You will. But your listeners won’t think they are being sold. And that’s a great combination.

I’ve written about using audio calls to promote your work. This is a variation of that. But it’s a far more effective system.

Talk shows need you. Desperately. And the smaller the talk show, the smaller the network, the smaller the radio station, the more desperately they need you.

Most people contemplating going on talk shows think Oprah first. And while I won’t argue with anyone who manages to snag a spot on Oprah, the reality is that you are competing with thousands of other people for that privilege. And you are unlikely to get on there, at least not for a long time.

On the other hand, let’s say you’re in a small town. And the local station has a talk show every morning from 8 to 10. And most of the time, the talk is a group of several announcers who sit around, chew the fat, discuss high school sports, and generally try to fill in the time between commercials.

And there are hundreds of such examples across the US and Canada. And you don’t have to be in a small town. Even in such radio markets as New York City and Chicago, there are dozens of small stations which serve niche markets (think ethnic groups, small areas, etc.) And those that have talk shows need talkers. Which is where you come in.

The other reality is that while a good talk show sounds informal, it’s anything but that. The structure of a good show is formal, and laid out in advance. The guest (that’s you) sets out the format for the program, sets out the questions the host will ask, and basically knows what’s going to happen, and where the program’s going to go.

If you have never listened to a local radio talk show, do so. Listen to a number of them. Know what you are getting into, and how the host operates.

In the meantime, prepare a resume, but not a regular resume. This one focuses on what you are prepared to offer as a talk show host. Explain what you have done, what you are good at, and what you know.

Next, prepare a list of questions for the host. These will be ones that you are prepared to answer, and while it sounds a little silly (to you) answering the questions that you’ve prepared, and already know the answer for, it won’t sound silly to the listener, if you follow a couple of rules. First, know the general format of your answer, but don’t memorize what you’re going to be saying. Second, be spontaneous. Try to engage the host, and talk to them. Of course, there will be lots of people listening on the radio, but you will sound stilted and forced if you think of them. Think instead of that one individual you are speaking to, the host or the caller. Third, smile. Of course, if you’re discussing an unhappy or serious issue, you don’t want to be grinning from ear to ear. But smiling, or at least maintaining a pleasant look on your face, will make your voice sound more musical, more vibrant, and less flat. If a caller, or even the host, becomes argumentative, that’s all the more reason to keep a pleasant look on your face. Maintain a pleasant expression, and be a genuinely nice person, and you’ll likely defuse the anger.

Don’t be discouraged if there are not a huge number of calls. A good host will know how to make a program work, even if there are not a lot of calls. But you will likely be surprised at how many calls come in.

When you get calls, make sure you listen to the caller, and understand their question. And pause for a second before answering, to give yourself time to think, and collect your thoughts. If you are baffled by a question, it’s OK to say, “Well, that’s a very good question, but it’s a little outside my area of expertise. But let me tell you how I handled a similar situation …” Then go on to talk about an area that relates to the question that you are familiar with. Don’t take calls personally. If someone is angry about something, you are very likely not the cause of their anger. In such a situation, you might say, “I can appreciate that you are quite concerned about this issue …” And then go on to relate their question to an area of your expertise.

And when the program’s over, your work is not complete. You need to do 2 things. First, speak to the receptionist. Leave one of your cards, and write your URL on the back of the card in large, legible letters. The receptionist may get calls later from people who want to contact you, and you want the receptionist to be able to send them to your site. Next, write a thank you note to the host of the program. Not an email: you want to send an actual card. No one does this. And so by doing it, you will stick out in the host’s memory. If the program went well, you definitely want to be back at a later time, and if the host remembers you as a good guest who’s helpful, informative, and easy to deal with, you have a far better chance of being asked back, over and over again.