Hit the Trail for a Great Radio Interview

“Don’t ride a new path at a full trot.” ~Cowboy wisdom

Radio is a wonderful way to sell books and/or promote a thought leader, product or service.  Many syndicated shows have audiences as large or larger than daytime cable TV shows.  The segments are usually much longer than those on television, and there are seemingly endless outlets that are looking for guests just like you.

Radio shows can be several hours long, with many guest segments throughout the show.  If you’re offered a choice of several time slots, ask which has more listeners and take that one, even if it’s less convenient for you. The extra audience is worth the inconvenience.

If you have a book or product, ask if you can provide a few for giveaways.  This will ensure that the show does a little extra promotion for your segment, meaning you’ll probably get more time and you’ll definitely have more listeners.

For more tips to drive your success on radio, I interviewed Mark Grimaldi, producer of Guarisco Group client Leslie Marshall’s nationally syndicated radio show – the fastest growing progressive show in the country.  Here’s some of our conversation:

How long have you worked in radio?

I’ve been fortunate enough to work in radio since the summer of 2004 (I was fresh out of College – I studied Broadcast Journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.  Graduated in May of ’04).  I started as a part-time board-op at a Sports talk radio station in my hometown of Buffalo, NY.  In 2006 I got my big break when I started working for the Leslie Marshall Show as an Assistant Producer.

What qualities make a great guest for radio interviews?

There are many qualities that make a great radio guest.  Great guests we’ve had on are compelling, and know how to connect and engage with Leslie and the audience. They also provide some sort of expertise or unique perspective/opinion to the show.  Great guests also make sure they are on a quality phone line in a quiet area so their audio quality on air is great (no speakerphone nor headsets!! And whenever possible a landline is ten times better than a cellphone).  Great guests also understand “pacing,” i.e. when to talk, when to let the host talk and how long to talk before pausing, etc.  Great guests also like engaging with callers and Twitter and Facebook followers of the show.

What are the most common mistakes radio guests make?

The most common mistake radio guests make is using a poor quality line, that is definitely number one.  It doesn’t matter how interesting you or your subject matter are if your voice sounds like garbage on air.  Some other common mistakes guests make is sounding too much like they are giving a lecture and coming off as boring.  Great guests know how to have a conversation with the host and the audience that gets everyone involved.

When you get a pitch, what are things you look for that make you want to book that person?

The pitches that make me want to book a guest have pertinent and timely topic info.  AKA something that is news that day or WILL BE news the next day.  Not something that was news the week or two before.  Also, well written pitches that are clearly organized and include the topic info and the guest’s expertise (why we should book them) presented in an accessible manner.  It is also helpful when the potential guest or their publicist leaves a phone number and email you can ACTUALLY REACH THEM AT.  And getting back to Producers in a timely manner is HUGE.  Also, writing different pitches for different shows is helpful.  Knowing what type of guests each show you’re contacting is usually interested in makes a huge difference.

Tell us about The Leslie Marshall Show.

It’s not just a tagline that The Leslie Marshall Show is “The Only True Democracy in Talk Radio.”  It truly is just that.  So many other shows will pre-judge callers or guests before they even say a word, or in many circumstances, not even allow them on air if their opinion differs from that of the host.  The beauty of Leslie’s show is that it doesn’t matter where you are in the political spectrum.  You are welcome on the show and on air.  As Leslie says, if people only talk to and listen to people they agree with all of the time, the world would be a boring place after a while.  So Leslie turns that boring model of talk radio on it’s head and allows everyone from every walk of life and political opinion, which makes for some quite compelling talk radio!

Mark is one of the sharpest radio producers in the country.  We really appreciate his taking the time to give us these valuable tips.

Listen to The Leslie Marshall Show weekdays 7-10pm Eastern time.  If yours is one of the few markets across the country that is not yet carrying the show, you can listen live online here.


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