Articles · Radio/TV Interviews

Q & A on “What Works” in Hosting a Radio Program

Since the release of our new book, Burdens Do a Body Good, I’ve had a tremendous year meeting new people throughout the publishing world. Three of these wonderful colleagues I had the privilege of getting to know (and love), I have interviewed here on their experiences in hosting their own radio programs. These ladies are all terrific radio hosts (and I was honored to be on each of their programs) and each of them bring a very specialized show to their listening audience. So, enough said by me, enjoy reading (and getting educated) on what running a radio show looks and feels like from the host’s perspective!

Speaking to those in the publishing/radio/TV industry, what do you wish your friends and colleagues would understand about the work you do?Deidre Hughey: It’s not just about showing up for your time slot. There’s A LOT of preparation time outside of the time that I spend on the air both before and after the production.

Marla Martindale: That it’s not as easy as it seems to be.

Brenda Nixon: It demands weekly planning, energy, and promotion.

How is being a radio host different than most people might imagine?

DH: I think that most people think that being a radio host is a “cake job” and a blast. (Well, actually that last part is true, it is a blast!). But, as a radio host, you have to be prepared for anything…not everything goes the way it’s supposed to all the time. In fact, there are few days where everything goes the way it’s supposed to go. However, that’s one of the reasons that I enjoy it. I love having to think on my feet. Most radio shows aren’t broadcast from a glamorously decorated and maintained building (that part was eye-opening for me).

MM: There is lots of preparation that goes into each show, you must read guests’ books; formulate your questions; research their website(s); and treat them all with the respect they deserve regardless of their stance on issues you may disagree with.

BN: Radio is a powerful venue for promoting your mission, books, helping listeners, and helping others in your industry. It demands an articulate, knowledgeable host who is professional in his/her attitude.

What are some of the highs/lows you experience on a regular basis?

DH: Highs: I meet some of the most wonderful people in the world because of my show! I get excited hearing the passion in my guests’ voices and love when they say something that I haven’t heard before.

Lows: I don’t experience lows on a regular basis. However, when a guest doesn’t show up, that’s a low. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, there’s a moment of pause in my mind. But the show must go on and I do my best to turn it into a high by broadcasting some music that I love or replaying a favorite interview.

MM: The highs: I get to read some phenomenal books of those who have persevered through their own painful ordeal, and you get to meet some absolutely wonderful individuals that you know will be in your life till the end. The lows: lots of reading…lots!

BN: The high is getting acquainted with a variety of interesting guests who are experts in the childrearing field. The low is when shy listeners won’t phone to ask questions of my guest or me. I encourage callers on every show and I think they miss an opportunity for free advice if they don’t call.

Tell us about how you go about selecting guests and do you have too many potential guests to choose from or not enough?

DH: So far, I haven’t had any trouble finding guests. I have two methods of collecting a pool of guests.

a. HARO – Once a year, I send a request through HARO (Help A Reporter Out) letting people know about the show and what type of guests I’m looking for. In my experience, this gives me a pool of people to choose from large enough to fill the call in guest portion of my show for more than a year. I’m very specific about who I’m looking for and stick to my personal criteria for guests.

b. I belong to quite a few local organizations and associations where I can search for guests for my local part of the program. I also ask trusted associates for their recommendations for local talent.

MM: I choose guests who authentically have a story to share that will inspire others and that has benefit them in their own lives. As for the amount of guest to choose from, it seems to come in spurts, sometimes I have too many to keep up with, and other times I am sweating the week until I find a guest to fill the following week’s slot. But God has been there with me every step of the way and has provided me with guests that are interesting and am I always honored to have been able to interview them.

BN: A few authors/speakers approach me after hearing The Parent’s Plate but the majority of my guests I approach and invite after I’ve done research on them, their philosophy, and their product.

How can your future guests best prepare to make their on-air time with you the most productive and helpful to you and to listeners?

a. Be excited about what you do
b. Bring passion to the conversation
c. Say something different
d. Don’t be afraid to talk

Most of my guests do this well, but every once in a while; these components are missing. One thing that guests need to remember is that on radio, no one can see your face or your hand gestures. If this is something that you rely on to get your message out, then you have to change for radio. Radio is completely reliant on your voice. You could have the most exciting, revolutionary, life-changing information that anyone has ever heard, but if you can’t transmit that message with passion and excitement in your voice, no one will hear it the way you intend. So, bring more passion and excitement to your voice and you’ll be a GREAT guest!

Being original is also important. As a radio host, I want to be sure that I’m bringing in guests that have something unique and original to say, not only so that my audience doesn’t get bored, but also, in truth, so I don’t get bored either. I like for my interest to be piqued both before and during the show!

You can’t be afraid to talk. You’ve been asked to be a guest because the radio host, producer or talent scout thought that you had something interesting to say, so say it! The most difficult and frustrating interviews are the interviews where I have to pull information out of a guest. Be confident in your knowledge and express it!

MM: I think it’s best if the guests are comfortable enough to just be themselves and share everything they would like to share but most importantly, be comfortable!!

BN: Be articulate, knowledgeable and friendly. Call me by name so it sounds like a personal chat, stand up during the interview so you sound energetic, and vary your voice inflection so you’re not a boring monotone to my guests.

Any #1 no-no in the radio business?

DH: 3 no-no’s – Don’t call in late. Don’t show up late. Don’t be boring with what you say or how you say it.

MM: There are on no-nos in the radio biz. It’s not good to have dead air…. some is expected, but it shouldn’t go beyond 3-5 seconds!!

BN: Avoid being an infomercial about your books or products on every show. Rather, give listeners a reason to tune in by offering great information and tips that can change lives.

Publishing a book is a tough upward battle for most writers; do you feel hosting a radio program is similar? How so?

DH: I’ve published a book as well and can definitely say that the process towards becoming a radio personality was a much shorter hill as compared to the uphill climbing and equipment needed to publish a book. The only similarity in my mind is that each one takes research, time to understand what the audience wants and finding the best format in which to deliver that message.

MM: I believe radio can be similar in the beginning to book publishing because you are an unknown and unestablished.

BN: It’s different. Hosting a radio show is a weekly commitment, where writing is a daily commitment and energy drain. It’s similar in that both demand tons of publicity; the readers and the listeners don’t come to you unless you put the word out there about your product or service to them.

What one piece of advice would you offer to individuals interested in getting into your side (the host position) of radio?

DH: You need to be curious and genuinely like people. Curiosity is needed in order to be able to engage your guests in a way that helps them to feel comfortable and heard so that your listeners get to hear what they tuned in to hear. Seems simple, but without your curiosity, only the most perfect guests are going to say what your audience wants to hear. Liking people is imperative because you’re going to come across many different personality types in this business.

MM: I would say: “If you feel strongly about starting a radio program, make it about something YOU are passionate about and keep it wholesome!”

BN: Start recruiting quality guests early. Follow-up with each guest before and after the program. In short, build relationships with your guests so they will want to return to your show, and they’ll also be your covert publicity team.


4 thoughts on “Q & A on “What Works” in Hosting a Radio Program

  1. Wonderful! Thank you for the opportunity to have you on my show. What a great post – I think a lot of potential radio guests and radio hosts can benefit from this article. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Michele,
    What a great and helpful idea to create and share this interview. I’ve been a radio guest and feel affirmed that I’ve intuitively followed the advice your talented contributors shared. As I prayerfully consider pursuing the hosting side, these tips were valuable. Thanks to all for the insight and wisdom.

    1. I really appreciated the “behind the scenes” information that these hosts shared…I think listeners often assume radio hosts just get on-air and start talking…but there’s so much forethought and preparation that each host goes through to make their radio time valuable to listeners. Eye (ear) opening!

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