Battling The Talk-Radio Clock – Media Training

by TJ Walker

So you’ve been booked as a guest for an entire hour of a talk-radio show to promote your latest book/campaign/new product launch. Finally, you can get away from the tyranny of the sound bite. You will have the luxury of going into great detail and depth. You’ve got a whole hour, for goodness’ sake!

Sorry, but this is not the case. Let’s break the hour down minute by minute. From the top of the hour until seven minutes after, you often have news, weather, sports, traffic and some ads to pay the bills. Next, you have ad breaks every seven minutes or so. At the bottom of the hour you may have a short news break, followed by more commercials. And then you may end a minute or two before the top of the hour. So your hour has shrunk to about 39 minutes. But wait, you don’t get to talk the whole time – the host is going to want half that time to ask questions and pontificate, so now you are down to approximately 20 minutes.

Wait, we forgot about the callers who want to ask questions – now you are down to about 12 minutes of actual talk time. But still, 12 minutes is a good length of time, right? Especially when you compare it to a three-minute quickie on TV’s Good Morning America.

Alas, there is another complication. Research shows that the average talk- radio-program listener tunes in for only 15 minutes. The audience for most talk-radio shows turns over four times during the course of an hour interview. Look at your own experience. If you are driving for 15 minutes from the grocery store to your home, what happens when you get home? Do you sit in your car for another 15 minutes while your ice cream melts just to

listen to an expert on the radio? Of course not. You turn both the car and the radio off – that’s it.

So if you are a guest on a talk-radio show for one hour, you must remember that you only get about 12 minutes of talk time.

But . . .

You must spread those 12 minutes of talk time over four separate audiences, which means most people listening to you will only hear you for three minutes (12 divided by 4). Therefore, you do not have the luxury of waiting until the end of the show to mention your web site, your campaign, your new product, your toll-free number or your book. You must do these things at least once during every 15-minute sector of the clock, or once ever three minutes in your conversation.

This does not mean that you should mention the name of your book and your publisher in every single sentence. This is annoying and it will alienate you from your audience as well as the talk radio host. But most guests on talk radio go too far in the other direction; they passively wait until the end of the program for the host to plug their reason for appearing on the show. By that time, you’ve already said goodbye to 75 percent of your audience without ever telling them what you are promoting.

So beware of the hour-long talk-radio interview format – make every minute count.

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