Prospective clients often have questions for me about how they can best promote themselves or their businesses, but many seem surprised when one of my suggestions is talk radio.
“Does anyone actually listen to talk radio anymore?” they ask.
Now, from my own experience, I could answer with an emphatic “absolutely!”
But to confirm what I already knew, I checked in with Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, the industry’s top trade publication, who is even more emphatic. Since the modern era of talk radio began in the late 1980s, he says, its detractors have been quick to point to every blemish or minor ratings down-tick as indicating the death of the format. They could not be more wrong.
“If no one is listening to talk radio, then no one is listening to radio at all,” Michael says. “With the normal ups and downs inherent in any format of the medium, talk radio (and country music radio) remain the two most-listened-to genres of radio, ratings period after ratings period.”
Is talk radio important and influential? Michael says you might as well ask if voters and active consumers are influential.
“Research continues to indicate that talk radio is where a high concentration of voters and active consumers are indeed listening,” he says. “Talk radio also puts the spotlight on important issues that for reasons of ratings, circulation or sizzle the rest of the mainstream media often tends to ignore or simply bury.”
There are a few types of radio stations. The conventional ones are referred to as terrestrial. That’s your AM and FM stations. AM is home to most talk-formatted shows and it’s where my public relations firm books clients most often. FM is primarily music but also carries some talk shows, such as those on National Public Radio.
There’s also satellite radio, such as Sirius and XM that people subscribe to, and internet radio, which is accessible online.
Here are a few reasons talk radio is a great source of publicity:
• It’s an easy, effective way to get your message out. There’s no travel or special equipment involved. As long as you have a landline, you can be interviewed from the comfort of your home or office. (Producers don’t like cell phones because the signal is unreliable.) If you give a compelling interview, you’ll impress listeners with your expertise and personality, which will help them remember you. It will also prompt hosts to plug your work and offer your website address.
• Talk radio audiences are educated and engaged. Talkers magazine periodically profiles news/talk listeners. The numbers show these are people who read books, buy products, care about issues and participate in the political process– potential customers!
According to the most recent Talk Radio Research Project:
o 72 percent of listeners are ages 35 to 64.
o 70 percent are college graduates or have attended college or graduate school.
o Men comprise 58 percent; women 42 percent.
o Almost three-fourths of listeners earn $30,000 to $79,000 a year.
o 79 percent of those eligible to vote do.
• Shows in smaller markets can be as helpful as big ones. Some clients tell us, “I don’t want to waste my time on small market shows.” But here’s why they are valuable: Smaller markets have devoted fan bases because listeners have fewer shows from which to choose. So, not only do you talk to a dedicated audience, it’s likely your interview will be longer than it would in a larger market. That gives you greater potential for making a strong impression and driving home your points to those devoted listeners.
• It can live online for you to share. Your interview can be saved as a podcast so you can share it on social media and on your website. Having the ability to re-purpose it in this way is what I like to call marketing gold. The radio interview’s return on investment is not necessarily just new customers or clients who find you because of the interview. The ROI actually is that these interviews help build your credibility as the go-to expert in your field, and that can lead to people choosing you over competitors down the line.
Besides the great publicity potential, talk radio also is easy. When a show host wants to interview me, I simply close my office door for 15 minutes and get on the phone.
There’s simply no better way to have a live conversation with a dedicated audience tuned in to hear what you have to say.