Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How to Be a Great Radio Guest! ~ Part Two

Filed under: Author Tips,Radio Talk Show Tips — Larry James @ 7:30 am
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You are encouraged to read Part One before begin reading below –

Tell the truth. Hosts value real experiences so use some stories from your own life to embellish your message. Listeners love stories. Whenever possible, sprinkle anecdotes or stories into your interview. Have them ready and “rehearsed” so you can recount them accurately. If you have experienced a personal struggle or triumph, tell the story and be sure that it is relevent to the topic you are there to talk about.

studio microphoneHosts also value brevity. Keep your comments as brief as possible and give them the opportunity to ask more questions. However, “never” answer a question with a simple, “Yes” or “No” unless you are prepared to add more words to your answer. Take a breath now and then. Make every word count. You would be wise to rehearse answers to questions that are frequently asked. Be prepared but don’t sound canned. Speak from the heart.

Never judge an interview by its length. Any interview is a teriffic opportunity. Be prepared to pack a lot of information in a brief amount of time and with as few words as possible. This will take some practice. If you must, write them down, then practice, drill and rehearse. Most important. . . “don’t read it, speak from it.”

Be a clock watcher. If your interview is scheduled for 10 minutes, begin to wrap up at minute 8 by mentioning where they can buy your book, your website and any other information you would like them to have.

Unless you are a comedian and are known for being funny… don’t try to be funny. A good sense of humor is an asset, however it comes off better if you relax and allow for humor to emerge during your conversation. Allow for spontaneity.

“Just terrific! That’s what I think of a) your website, b) your information, c) your sense of altruism! A tremendous find!” ~ Shirley Camper Soman, author, Let’s Stop Destroying Our Children: Society’s Most Pressing Problem Then and Now

While there are some hosts who will verbally attack you and do their best to create controversy, do your best to keep your cool. If the questions get tough, remain calm and collected. Even minor traces of irritation exaggerate themselves greatly on the radio and especially on TV, and can appear to be aimed at the listener.

It is better to speak from the heart rather than to allow a host to rattle your cage and cause you to say something you may later regret. Roll with the punches. You may want to prepare some “come-back” lines for such emergencies. The real pros never hang up on a host. “Be” the expert you are. Engage in the conversation. Know your stuff!

One favorite media tactic is to allow a lengthy pause that creates awkward silence. This is done so you will continue talking, usually because you are blissfully digging yourself into a hole. Do not fall for this media trick. Pause until the host continues. In an era of the “sound-bite,” any awkward silences can be edited out. Hosts do not like “dead air.” He brought it on, so let him fill in the gap.

My belief is that it is much better to have your purpose of doing radio interviews be to reach out and help others. With this as your highest priority, the promotion of your books or products will have more value to the listener. The listener needs to know the benefits of taking action to purchase your products before they will buy.

One of the best pieces of advice I received about being interviewed came from my good friend, Gregory J.P. Godek. In preparation for appearing on ABC TV’s “The View” with Barbara Walters, he told me to be sure to “say your best stuff first.” That came in handy. Learn to work what “you” want to say into the conversation in the beginning because you may not have the opportunity later.

Remember, the person who is asking the questions is in control of the conversation. Had I not followed his advice, it is quite possible that I would not have been able to mention my Website on national TV. This goes for radio too. Barbara Walters was a pro, however one of the other hosts of the show would often interrupt before I had finished my sentence. Rude? Perhaps, and it was their show. Be prepared.

When a host asks you a question and you do not know the answer, it is far better to admit that you do not know than to “make something up” and sound foolish. If this happens to me, I usually respond by saying, “That is a very good question, I’ll have to do a little research on that so I can give you a good answer. Next question.”

When you go to a break and the info is close by, get it and let the host know that you have the answer, etc. If the answer is not close by, make a note to remember to send the information to the host after the show is over. This is more acceptable than to “wing it” and look stupid. While the host may never bring it up later, they will be impressed that you kept your word.

Talk show hosts are not interested in “fluff.” If you have written a book, you are considered to be an expert on your subject. Act like one. They want people who can not only answer their questions but who can present solutions for their listeners. Be prepared to explain and state your position and to follow with a solution when it is called for.

Do your best to match the pace of your conversation with the pace of the interviewer. Don’t be a lazy talker. Be energetic. If you speak too quickly, the listeners won’t be able to understand you. Make sure to enunciate so that listeners will stay interested. Radio hosts love it when you demonstrate enthusiasm for your topic. Listeners can sense your interest and enthusiasm. However, if the host appears easy and laid back, be easy and laid back. If they talk fast, talk fast. If they sound excited, you better sound excited too.

A great way to raise your confidence level is to practice answering difficult questions in advance. Ask yourself: “What is the question that I least want to answer?” Practice that one. Use a friend as a sounding board. Rehearse a response until you are comfortable with it. I am often asked that since I am not a therapist, what makes me such an expert about relationships? I know exactly what I am going to say and the answer usually helps continue the conversation in a very positive manner.

An experienced host can usually tell if your an a novice at being interviewed. Speak up. Be loud and clear. Be enthusiastic, and be careful; don’t overdo it. Expressing a passion for what you do is contagious. If you have an accent, it is wise to speak a little slower so as to be clear and easily understood. Be articulate. If you know that you need some help with your grammar, get help. You are often judged by the words that you speak and by the tone of your voice.

“You are a Godsend. I read your tips last night. Today was great. I was natural and just me. The radio host was easygoing so I felt at ease. Thank you! I am so addicted to radio NOW. No more reading from the books… Just be natural. You offer a must-have service for fellow writers who must and need to get into the limelight and shine.” ~ Cal Orey, author, Doctor’s Orders: What 101 Doctors Do to Stay Healthy & 202 Pets’ Peeves: Cats and Dogs Speak Out on Pesky Human Behavior

Imagine that you are speaking to only one person when you are on the air. Listeners listen that way. Be conversational. Be a friend of the host and the listeners.

Do not speak the jargon or techno-terms of your industry! This is very important. Listeners need your information to be understandable and presented on a layperson’s level. Keep it simple and to-the-point, and don’t try to impress the host with your vocabulary.

When doing a TV interview, be sure to make good eye contact with the host. Never look at the camera. Let the camera technicians do their job. Talk “to” the host, don’t look around the room. The TV anchor has established a long-term relationship with the audience viewing at home. You don’t. They have permission to look into their living rooms. That is not your job. Your job is to help the anchor inform and entertain the audience by being engaging and charismatic.

If you’re doing a radio or TV interview, take care not to wear or bring anything that beeps, rings, jingles, cries, barks or otherwise makes noise on its own. If you are doing an interview from your office or home, close the door to avoid any interruptions. Turn off radios, TV, music, cell phones, phones, fans – anything that might make noise – and lock the pets in the other room. My media coach, Ellen Kaye asked me to remove a gold bracelet I was wearing before my appearance on “The View.”

If you’ve written a book or have product and are appearing on TV, bring samples with you. Sign them to the host (radio hosts too). While appearing on KTVK-TV 3 in Phoenix, I not only brought all three of my relationship books, I brought an 11 x 17 poster of my best-selling book. Dan Davis gladly put in on the table and the TV camera panned it several times during the interview. My philosophy is “self-promote or disappear!” Shameless? You bet. AND… it worked!

I used to worry when there were no call-ins if call-ins were accepted. No longer. Heavy call volume is not necessarily a good gauge for how well you are doing. If you are an informative and entertaining guest, listeners will often stay riveted to the radio and will not call. Just be your best at all times and say things worth listening to.

When you hear the music come up when you are talking, that means the break is coming up or the end of the show is near. That is the time you want to bring your comments to a quick close. It is wise to have a few brief sentences that you have rehearsed well with which to close.

When the host says he’s going to break for a commercial, if you can, squeeze in a quick teaser to tantalize the audience to make them want to continue to listen. Say something like, “When we come back I’ll tell you how to (fill in the blank). . .” It works best to have several teasers already prepared for instant use.

Also remember that listeners channel surf. According to statistics I’ve read, the average listener only listens in 20 minute segments. They often flip around the radio dial until they hear something that grabs their attention. Be an “attention grabber.”

Frequency counts. The more times you can sneak your book title or Website into the conversation, the better. However, do it with finesse! AND do not overdo it. Mimicking William Shatner’s eccentric character, “Denny Crane,” on Boston Legal doesn’t work.

Say your book title at least three times in every interview. Yes, there will be times when this is impossible, and there will be times when this is tacky, but if you make it a rule and stick to it, you will sell more books. Erase the words “my book” from your vocabulary, and always use the full title to refer to your work. This is one easy way to sell books in an interview without sounding like an infomercial.

I usually close by saying, “This is Larry James reminding you to Celebrate Love.” I pause briefly and quickly add “Dot com!” Wheew! Got another plug in for my website and it was the last thing they heard me say. Remember to say your name several times too. If they remember your name, they can usually do a search and find you.

Have fun! Enjoy yourself! Lighten up! Let your passion and enthusiasm for your book or topic shine though. Listeners truly resonate with enthusiasm and will often buy your product or service based on emotion.

Several other ideas: I can think of several reasons why you should ask the host to give you a cassette or CD of the interview. Give copies of the cassette or CD to print reporters who may want to do a story on you and put a copy of the cassette or CD inside your media kit. IMPORTANT: Be sure to make your request to the Producer for a cassette or CD of the interview BEFORE the interview begins.


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Follow the link above! ~ Click the above image!

After the interview is over, ask the host, “Who else do you know who might be interested in having me as a guest?” Most talk show hosts often have valuable contacts in other markets and If they were pleased with the interview and say so, they will refer you.

Ask the host to take a moment and jot you a brief note on their station’s letterhead. Use this when you solicit other radio stations for interviews or to post on your media page on your website.

Pitch your niche! Include a sheet in your media kit or on your website listing all media appearances by category (radio, TV, newspaper, magazines) and update it regularly. Send the list, along with your “pitch” letter, to editors, reporters, talk show producers and news directors, to let them know you aren’t a media novice. Media professionals identify newsworthy items by testimonials from media peers before your self-promotional comments.

When it comes to stories, each producer or host has a unique personality and unique needs. Ask lots of questions. Dig into what they are currently working on. Then make them look good by designing your patter to fit their needs. Learn everything you can about the show and about their competition. Let them know you care about their listeners. When you help make a host’s job easier, they will ofen come back to you for more quotes and other interviews.

Design a “Holiday Hook.” When pitching a holiday, put a non-traditional twist on a traditional idea. What can you offer that would be something completely different? Your job is to ignite interest. Plan a different spin on an existing idea. Be creative.

Here’s a novel idea. Pitch them something they’re already interested in. That could be something in the news, or maybe a current reality show or movie, celebrity mishap, or seasonal item. Celebrity tie-ins usually get more air time. Topical ideas with a twist will get their attention.

Remember to tell clients and print reporters in the station’s listening area to listen to your interview. If you are a guest on an out-of-town radio show, call the newspaper in the city where the show is airing and ask if they would like an interview, too. Be sure to give them no less than a two week advance notice.

If your interview was successful, it is sometimes possible to segue into another interview with their sister station down the hall. If they don’t have any other stations in the building, ask if their affiliates in other cities might be interested in interviewing you. It is best to make this request and ask for the contact info while you have them on the phone. NOTE: A radio station whose owners own more than one station in a market is referred to as a company’s co-owned (# of stations)-station cluster. For example, Clear Channel owns an 8-station cluster in the Greater Phoenix area.

Radio interviews should be an important part of your overall media strategy. Never, ever turn down the opportunity to do a talk show. You can learn from every interview. Inexperienced with being interviewed on talk shows? You need to know how to be a professional guest. You’ll need guidance and training to create excitement, share valuable info, make your point quickly, avoid tangents, be promotional yet responsible and learn the do’s and don’ts of being interviewed.

A few tips from Marsha Friedman:

• Radio talk shows, in contrast to TV, communicate through words rather than pictures.It’s conversational, so your message should lend itself to a discussion about the problem your expertise can address.
• Like TV, radio talk shows vary from morning to night. Morning shows, as you might suspect, generally have shorter interviews during “drive time.” With news, weather sports and traffic, talk show hosts don’t have time for 30-minute interviews.
• Midday shows, now run the gamut of topics since so many people listen to the radio at work. Today, you’ll even find lots of business shows airing during the work hours.
• After work is the second “drive time” of the day. Listeners are more relaxed then, and it’s more conducive to a longer interview.
• And don’t discount those overnight shows. Think no one’s listening? You’d be mistaken. Evening and overnight interviews reach a broad audience of listeners, including 2nd and 3rd shift workers, public service employees, truckers and many people who work overnight.

Media training is a major plus and will give you a tremendous advantage as you can learn the techniques and strategies to giving a great interview as well as promoting your interests during the interview. It gives you the opportunity to practice your materials and receive top quality, professional feedback. Call the coach!

Many of the radio stations in the USA have websites. Before you agree to an interview, it might be a good idea to listen to the host. Here is a list of radio stations who have websites and broadcast on the Internet. You can browse by state for their websites. Do a Google for a list.

You can use the Radio Locator to locate all of the radio stations near a U.S. city.

For a list of the Top 50 United States Cities by population, go to: This list will assist you in determining major radio markets. (Update: The latest census show Phoenix as #5 and Philadelphia as #6).

Also check out American Journalism Review and NewsLink – They feature an expansive list of radio, TV and print media links plus the latest in journalistic news.

Have you considered pitching Internet radio? – If not, maybe you should be. According to a study done in 2004, over 28 percent of Internet radio listeners are likely to buy a new product vs. 17 percent of regular radio listeners. Internet radio listeners are also “hip” meaning that if you’re targeting the 12-35 year old crowd, this might be a place you want to promote yourself. Try heading over to WS Radio at and check out their shows, you can pitch most of the hosts directly from their site! Internet radio is a good place to practice if you are new to doing radio talk shows. They have fewer listeners and if you make a mistake, fewer people hear it. 😉

BONUS Article: FREE eBOOK Download: “How to Book Radio Shows & Be a Great Guest!”


Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at:

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Articles: How to Be a Great Radio Guest! ~ Part One How to Be a Great Radio Guest! ~ Part Two How to be the Perfect Talk Radio […]

    Pingback by How to Get Publicity from Talk Radio | Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James — Friday, March 27, 2015 @ 7:32 am | Reply

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