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How to Succeed on Radio

Listen to the show to learn how it works

Before you call to get on a radio talk show, listen to it so you know the format, the length of segments, and the host’s style.

Call at least two weeks ahead to book a guest

Prepare a brief bio on your spokesperson, a background on your library or program, and a one-page letter on what you have to say. Once you arrange an interview, send a written confirmation to the producer and the guest with a phone number for each to reach the other. Also make sure the guest and producer know who is to call who if the interview will take place by telephone.

How to Succeed on RadioAvoid off-the-wall hosts

While most markets in Montana don’t have a wide range of shows to choose from, there are still radio shows that are more in line with the audience you want to reach than others. Pick a show that will give you a chance to deliver your message.

Talk slowly

Vary your voice quality. Don’t use too many numbers. Avoid jargon.

Paint verbal pictures

Since body language can’t connect you to your audience, try to paint pictures with words. Use stories to illustrate your talking points. Utilize the “What’s Your Story?” campaign to collect stories from your patrons that help demonstrate the value of your library to your community.

Practice in private

Either with a friend co-worker or on tape, practice answering questions and handling hostile callers.

Remember to mention your library name at least twice

People tune in and out when listening to radio. Therefore, even if you were introduced with an ID, that doesn’t mean most listeners heard it.

Learn to answer odd questions with the points you want to make

It’s ok once a show to say something like “That’s an interesting question, Fred, but what I really hope you’ll understand about libraries is. . . .”

Organize a campaign...

...if you’re having trouble getting on the air of a talk radio show. Write and call. Try to arrange to visit the producer or station manager. Send a demo audio cassette. If all else fails, call in while the show is on the air!

Organize some callers...

... if you get on the air for a show with call-ins. See that some friends of your library call, ask good questions, and show support.

Leave with a recording

Bring a cassette and ask the engineer to pop it in so you can leave with a recording. You never know when you may want to utilize excerpts from the show for publicity and marketing purposes.

Excerpted from the American Library Association’s A Communications Handbook for Libraries, published in Summer of 2004. To see A Communications Handbook for Libraries in full, please visit: http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/availablepiomat/online_comm_handbook.pdf.

  • Montana State Library
  • P.O. Box 201800, 1515 East 6th Avenue
  • Helena, MT 59620-1800
  • Phone: (406) 444-3115
  • Fax: (406) 444-0266
  • msl.mt.gov