On the Air

How Radio Can Expand Your Reach

By Kathy Gruver

As massage therapists and bodywork professionals, we have a lot of valuable information to share. One way to share it, and expand your reach in the process, is with radio. It helps you build credibility, sell books and products, and attract more business to your practice. 

You might be thinking, “Radio? With computers and technology the way they are today, who listens to the radio?” But, not only is terrestrial radio still surviving and thriving, Internet radio has become increasingly popular. 

To date, I’ve been on more than 150 radio shows. For some, I’ve gone to a traditional studio in my hometown, for others I call in to a radio station in another city, but many I’ve done over the phone on an online radio show. Through these shows, I’ve shared my knowledge about health with a broad and receptive audience, positioned myself as an expert, sold books and DVDs, and found new massage clients. 

Michael Cervin—a former radio host, a freelance writer, and author of four travel books—says, “The viability of radio is that it has strong local and regional appeal. The listener easily becomes more engaged by the passion of the guest, something that’s difficult to do in the print medium. Radio is often overlooked by PR firms, but [it] possesses a strong and loyal base.”

Radio still has a huge impact, and, in most cases, the shows are archived online for future worldwide listening. Blogtalk radio (www.blogtalkradio.com), one of the largest online radio networks, has tens of thousands of different shows and millions of listeners. Some shows are very professional, with a large audience, and others feature two people sitting in a basement talking to 12 followers. The advantage and disadvantage of online radio is that anyone can have a show and be a host, so you need to do your research to see what you are getting into. You can also use online radio to host your own show, if that’s of interest to you. 

Tune In

So, you’d like to be on the radio. How do you find shows to be on? Start with the Internet. Make sure you look at your local radio stations’ websites; often they have a list of shows and hosts. There are also email services that alert you to hosts or networks looking for guests. One of the most popular is called HARO (www.helpareporter.com), a free service that connects media outlets with experts on particular subjects. Many of the listings won’t apply to you, but occasionally a gem shows up. I’ve gotten some great radio and print publicity through this service. 

Another great service is Radio Guest List (www.radioguestlist.com), which provides daily listings of shows looking for guests. You can also pay to sign up as a featured guest and have your profile included on the site and in emails to show hosts, though I don’t recommend using the paid feature unless you have radio experience and something big to offer. Smaller markets will have greater opportunities for you when it comes to radio, so research all your options. 

Make the Pitch

You’ve found a show you want to pitch. What do you say? The key is to respond as closely as possible to what the show is asking for. HARO, for one, will discontinue your subscription if people complain you are doing off-topic pitches. Give enough detail to show you are the right person for the job and outline what you bring to the show. Here’s an example of my general radio pitch, which I change and augment as needed for different shows: 

My name is Dr. Kathy Gruver, host of the TV series TheAlternative Medicine Cabinet, and I inspire and challenge people to take control of their health. I offer alternatives to Western medicine, prescriptions, and surgery. I educate about mind-body medicine, being your own best advocate, massage, reiki, healthy pregnancy, nutrition, homeopathy, and so much more. My first book, The Alternative Medicine Cabinet, was recently selected as a finalist for the IndyExcellence Awards, and using that as a resource, I advise people how to regain control of their health. I am also the author of Body Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker and other Health Professionals and Conquer Your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques. I would be the perfect guest for your show, offering a fresh, inspired perspective on how to achieve better health.

 I’ve been involved in natural health for 22 years and have more than 10,000 hours of hands-on experience. I was recently honored with the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award, and I have earned my PhD in natural health and pursued further education at Harvard Medical and the National Institutes of Health. As a former actor, I’m comfortable on the radio and can deliver my message in a fun and down-to-earth manner. I’ve done more than 150 radio interviews and 50 live lectures, and am confident in my topic. I have also appeared on numerous TV shows, including Lifetime Television’s The Balancing Act, to talk about natural health and educate the audience.

I look forward to hearing from you. Please check out my website at www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com for more information. Thanks!

The pitch is informative but not too wordy, and covers general topics while also saying why I would be a good radio guest. It shows I’m qualified and experienced, then sends readers to my website for more info. What you should not do is simply say, “I’m a massage therapist and I’d like to be on your show.” 

For example, I had someone mistakenly think I had a show and request to be my guest. His pitch was something to the effect of, “I’d love to be on your show. I’ve written several books and would be a great guest.” All I know from his email was that he wrote books. On what topics? Has he done radio before? What is his area of knowledge? His pitch told me nothing. I emailed him back and we started a dialogue about how he could get some radio show spots, but he was at a disadvantage. He had no focus. Yes, he had self-published several books, but they were on wildly different topics; there was not one thing that he was an expert in. He had never done radio before, so I had no way of knowing if he was good at it. And when I asked to see his website, he sent me to the Amazon.com page where his books could be purchased, which told me nothing about him. At this point in his career, I don’t think he’s a good candidate to be a guest. He needs a website (you should have one, too!) and a more focused message. 

Get Radio-Ready

OK, let’s say you have your website up and running; you have a good, concise, informative pitch; and you’ve landed yourself a spot on a radio show. Here are some things you will need to know. 

Are you going to a studio? Get directions, parking, call time, etc. If you are going to a studio, are they filming the show also? Many radio shows have a video running of what is happening live in studio. This might affect your wardrobe choice. Whether it is filmed or not, show up dressed in a professional manner, and take a copy of your book, DVD, or product with you. 

If it’s a phone interview, get the call time in the correct time zone for you. Find out if you are calling them or they are calling you. Get their phone number and make sure they have the correct number for you. Find out how long the show is and how long you will be on, and if there is a specific focus or a number of topics for the show. 

Often, a show will ask you beforehand for questions, so have those prepared and get them to the person in charge in a timely manner. If a producer doesn’t ask for questions ahead of time, check in to see if you can provide some—it’s their show, but it’s your time to get your message out. You may also need to provide a written bio, introduction, and headshot for promotions.

Some shows have very specific guidelines about guests not promoting books, products, or services until the end; they get upset with guests who make the show into a commercial. Ask what the policy is about telling listeners how to reach you and find out more—it’s better to know ahead of time. And, if you get to the end of the show and nothing has been said about how to reach you, be sure to tell everyone. 

Many shows take breaks partway through. If you know there will be a break, ask before the show if your microphone will still be live during that time. There’s nothing worse than thinking no one can hear you as you’re blowing your nose. 

After the show, send the host a quick note saying you enjoyed being a guest, and see if she can provide you a copy or link to the show for your website and promotional material. 

Make a Lasting Impression 

If you’ve never done an interview before, it can be nerve-wracking, and you want to come across as professional as possible. Practice with a family member or friend, and follow these tips: 

• If you are with the host live, meet her eyes, smile, and be as conversational as possible. 

• If you are conducting the interview over the phone, make sure you’re in a quiet room on a landline phone, and don’t use a headset or speakerphone. Don’t walk around the room. Sit with good posture, speak slowly, and smile. 

• Be energetic and vary your speech patterns. Low energy and a monotonous voice are not appealing on the radio.

• If you have to cough, burp, clear your throat, or take a drink, use the mute button if you have one (make sure to unmute before you talk again), or take the phone away from your mouth. 

• Make sure you are hydrated, and don’t smack your lips or breathe too hard. Those sounds can be picked up during the interview. 

• Remember you are on the radio, so nodding your head to illustrate agreement and delivering one-word answers aren’t going to work. 

Also, if you want to make the most of your radio appearance, have a product or service you can pitch. This can be anything from a full video series to a free, informative giveaway. If you don’t have anything, it doesn’t exclude you—a show might be very interested in the benefits of massage, or something you are offering like a new technique or special treatment—but having something tangible to offer the listeners is a great way to get the word out about your practice.

If you’re interested in using radio to build your practice and your personal brand, hit the Internet, gather all the info you need for the show, breathe, and have fun. Catch you on the airwaves! 

Kathy Gruver, PhD, is author of Body Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker and Other Health Professionals (Infinity Publishing, 2012). She is also a speaker and practitioner with more than two decades of experience. For more information, visit www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com.


Why You Should Podcast 

Podcasts, which simply mean downloadable audio from the Internet, have become a way for anyone to be part of the radio market. All you need to get started are a computer, a microphone, and a broadband Internet connection. Listeners subscribe to your feed and can download and listen to your content when it’s convenient for them.

Podcasts should not be infomercials, but they should help businesses give voice to their company. To keep listeners tuned in, the goal is to be informative; unless you’re paying for advertising time on someone else’s podcast, keep your message commercial-free.

Not sure this is right for you? Then consider advertising on a podcast, or better yet, being a podcast guest. It’s just one more way to create buzz about your business.

To read this article in our digital issue, click here.