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How to Market Yourself to Talk Radio
Before hitting the talk show circuit, polish up your expertise.
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 by John Longenecker

John LongeneckerWith the growing blogosphere of contributors, entrepreneurs, marketers and spokespersons, there are some who have become expert authorities in their field and who have paid
enough dues by now to look at talk radio as their
next platform move.

Some are a natural and sound great from the start. Others hesitate and put it off another year, and still others don't prepare at all, thinking they can noodle it out as they go... when they're ready. Talk radio is looking for great guests, and preparing beforehand can make the move for your brand a lasting one in making a difference in the lives of others.
The first objective in becoming a good guest expert for your aims is to understand that your ability to compose a compelling article or to deliver a moving speech do not translate into being a good expert on radio. The pace is different, the challenges are immediate, and you can't learn it and interact like an expert by studying or noodling it out on your own; you either acquire it by enduring a painful on-air learning curve or by being taught confidentially before you ever contact a radio show.

The learning curve is not the way to go. It airs your mistakes, literally, for all to witness and it damages your image when you can least afford it. You want to sound like the authority you really are, and from the very beginning, whether you are giving a delicious recipe for dessert or predicting a political recipe for disaster.

Audiences are more sophisticated now and they expect more. They turn to their favorite talk shows for their knowledge base and to discover new attitudes, affirmations and even corrections; I call it the listeners' light speed comparing of notes. More shows are being recorded for podcast and re-broadcast into cyber immortality; guests are challenged live and must respond live. The audience can hear the difference between organized expertise with connectivity and a newcomer's struggle to educate them.

Before marketing yourself to a show, let's talk about that connectivity. In coaching, a student's connectivity is complex and it requires practice and individualized critique in order to work at its best. Here are two glimpses for you in how to meet these.

First, chances are that you can anticipate the quizzing of audience callers; in advance, reduce all of your responses to the most parsimonious statements you can craft. Many experts make the mistake of neglecting this in educating their audiences, and wind up over-informing them and wasting allocated air time instead. Where it goes wrong is in a lack of connectivity to begin with.

Optimal connectivity is where you are able to impart understanding over facts and that understanding carries meaning for most listeners. Connectivity suffers when the significance of the facts you give may not be self-evident to listeners. You make the better connection by making the connection for them within your response, and giving them understanding instead of so-called education. The mistake of many experts is in their established habit of informing at length rather than teaching quickly. This must be changed for effective on-air interaction.

The second half is to connect your answer of understanding to a values system of meaning, such as how your response relates to the household. It's one of the safest topics on the air. Many shows are looking not for information per se, but for insights and how you apply them on the topic - and audience - at hand. If you can do both within a parsimony of a response, and if your expertise has merit, you will succeed.

Remember that the audience is not stupid or uninformed; they're waiting to see if you're smart. You convey that by your ability to connect with understanding over the superficial ability merely to inform.

John Longenecker is an established author and contributor, and has been
a frequent talk radio guest expert on hundreds of stations large and small.
He now coaches contributors to be their best on-air persona as a
guest expert. His website is

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