Monday, August 27, 2007

Controversy - the stuff of media coverage - and your key in radio

Work in radio, in any news media, figures that you have to deal with controversy. The short definition: "a discussion that never quits" - this is where they say a "story has legs". Reason being is that the truth is very hard to get at, as well as the details. So it keeps "turning over" in the generic listener's mind (the literal meaning of controversy).

Pew recently came out with a study that people keep track of:
  1. Natural disasters
  2. Money issues
  3. Man-made catastrophes
After that, tabloid news, foreign news, politics, and the rest fall way down. These top three are the key. It's just one of those things.

So working a local and recent controversy into your comments is key...

Radio Interviews 101 - Controversy

Bryan Farrish, Guest Author

When attempting to get interviews in any media, especially radio, it's important to be able to mold your information into something that stations are most likely to want. Too many guests make the mistake of thinking that because a topic like weightloss or childcare or mortgages is important to them (and all their friends and family,) that it will also be important to the listeners of a particular radio station. This is not the case.

You may have wondered why everything you hear on TV and radio seems to always be blown out of proportion. Well, if you haven't heard, controversy attracts listeners. Radio stations are not in the information business, which means that they don't care if they air anything that informs their listeners. They don't get paid for that. Radio instead wants just one thing... more listeners. That's how they get paid.

They already have their current listeners... so giving your information to those current listeners is not going to bring the station any new listeners. Controversy, however, has been proven to attract new listeners, by way of word-of-mouth, newspaper and magazine reviews, etc. So, your job must be to mold your current information into something which radio will feel is controversial to their current listeners.

How do you do this, especially with dry subjects? Well, it is a bit of an art. But the basic way is to write down all the conversations you've had in the past that resulted in your getting into an argument about your subject. If those conversations were enough to madden those you normal would speak nicely with, they should be good enough to madden some listeners.

Now, you might be thinking that "acting" like something is a controversy would not fit your personality or presentation style. True, it may not, at least the way that you are currently thinking. You may be evisioning a radio host getting into a shouting match with a listener, but it does not have to be this way.

Your approach could just be, "Did you know that such-and-such does not really work that way at all???" And then you go on to present the real, shocking facts. This may seem a bit simple, but if you lace your interviews with many, many of these, you'll eventually be thought of as an interview guest with a ton of twists (with or without callers shouting)... and that's exactly what stations want.

Any topic can be made controversial... and many times it's done by involving people-stories, whereby the people become characters in a shocking little play with a twist. Try it on a few friends who are not in your business. Then try it on some unsuspecting folks in a chatroom (again, one that is not involved in your business.) A final test might be to test it during a live speaking engagement.

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