Radio interviews are an excellent way of communicating your message to a lot of people all at once—it’s like you’re having a normal conversation, but with legions of invisible people listening in.
Of course, this may be simultaneously comforting and unnerving. While you are recording it feels like there are only two people present—you and the interviewer—but rationally you know that there are many more silent participants in the exchange.
The obvious problem with promoting art over the radio is that a radio broadcast is an aural experience while art is visual. However, if you can use words that will get people to visualize your art and spark their interest as they drive to work, a radio interview might be best marketing you ever do.
How to get an interview on the radio:
It’s easier than you might expect to get an interview on your local radio station. Each radio station has about 1440 minutes of programming to fill every day and they are always searching for fresh voices, inspiring talent, and exciting local news.
A surefire way to pique their interest is to call the station immediately after winning a local or national award. They may want to know about your artwork, how you felt when you won, and to hear about your exciting future plans. A community is always ready to feel proud of a special talent that developed in their midst.
Another method is to contact the station just a few weeks before a big opening or art event in the community—something that local art lovers would be interested in.
If your event is at a recognized gallery or venue, it would be worthwhile to have their events coordinator or publicist to call the station as well.
If the station gives you a choice of times, try to schedule your interview to coincide with the busiest commuting time in your area. That way you will get the maximum number of listeners.
One of my radio interviews happened the day before I did a reading of my new children’s book in the town’s busiest library. The librarian informed the station about the event, after which the station called me to set up the time for the interview.
A few months later, my book was short-listed for a Provincial illustration award. I wasn’t available for another interview at that time, but the station announced the short-listing during their “local news” breaks for several days in a row. (So once you’ve made contact, you may not even need to be interviewed to have a presence on the airwaves.)
If you think the radio station might need a little coaxing, suggest a reciprocal deal, or come up with a way that you can do something nice for them.
Perhaps you could loan them some of your artwork to hang in their reception room for a few months. Or, offer to design Christmas or thank-you cards for free.
One garden centre owner in my home-town does frequent radio interviews to publicize her greenhouse. In return she provides plants in summer and free Christmas trees in winter for the radio station.
I’m going to be on the radio! Now what?
It’s ok to be nervous about your interview. Luckily, radio hosts are usually easy-going, relaxed, jolly people. They will most likely show you the equipment and give you a short explanation of how they’ll conduct or organize the interview.
It is their job to make you feel comfortable, and your nerves will probably pass very quickly. However, no matter how comfortable you feel, it is still good to have a few guidelines to follow:
1. Have your talking points in front of you and concentrate on getting them across during your interview time. You may also want to prepare a list of descriptions and adjectives to describe your artwork so you can paint word pictures and use illustrative examples in your conversation. Your listeners need to be able to visualize your creations if you want them to be interested.
2. Bring a few small examples of your artwork along so the interviewer can join in the descriptive process. It will also help the interviewer ask relevant questions.
3. If the interview is live, find out how long it will be and how many commercial breaks or songs will be scheduled. Commercial breaks and songs are great for planning the topics of the next segment with the interviewer. Keep in mind that a “talk-radio” station will allow very few breaks in the interview compared to a “music-radio” station.
4. Find out what kind of audience the show attracts, and pitch yourself and your artwork appropriately. This may come across in how casually you talk, what you talk about, and which works of art you bring to the station.
5. Avoid talking too fast (or too slow), and avoid too many ‘aahs’, ‘umms’ and ‘like, you-knows’. Keep your voice even, warm and animated so that the listeners will like you, and stay away from clichés. Most of all, enunciate, enunciate, enunciate!
6. Radio stations are always on the lookout for good sound-bytes. While you’re at the station, see if they’ll let you record a promotional sound clip for them saying something like, “Hi, I’m author Jane Heinrichs. Thanks for supporting local arts and listening to MIX96.7.” That way your name will frequently be heard, and you are also advertising the station. It is a win-win situation.
7. Keep answers brief, but interesting; and listen (or look) for cues from your interviewer that you need to wrap things up. You don’t want your host going overtime.
8. Always thank the host for the interview while you are still on air. Listeners want to know that you are polite and grateful.
After the radio interview:
Once you’ve had your time on the air, make sure you ask for a disc with a recording or aircheck of your interview and ask permission to post it on your website or blog. If your interview was successful and you want to approach other stations, you can also use it as an an “audition tape” to prove that you won’t flounder during a live interview.
Also, ask your host or producer for referrals to other radio stations in the same media group. I managed to get two interviews with the local AM and FM stations that were part of the Golden West Radio umbrella. Conveniently, they were in the same building with offices across the hall from each other.
After a few days, send the producer or host a thank-you note and make sure to keep the lines of communication open by passing along important press releases about your artwork and events.
If you want to get more involved, you could suggest doing a phone-in competition or giveaway with your art. Any other ideas you can come up with that will increase viewer participation are sure to be well-received by the station.
In closing, I’d highly recommend trying to do a radio interview. It will probably end up being more fun than you anticipated, and who knows—it may even make you a household name in your community.