Radio Around the Bay: Notes from Our April 1, 2010 Program

By Katie Sheehan, Berrett-Koehler Publishers

The NCBPMA was happy to host a roundtable discussion with three radio producers from local Bay Area radio stations on April 1st. The panel was moderated by Lorna Garano, NCBPMA Board member, and independent publicist.

The panel included:

  • Laura Prives: The executive producer of KPFA’s “The Morning Show,” a locally produced, progressive, public affairs show that covers the Bay Area, California, national, and international news. The show airs from 7-9am Monday through Friday. Authors are generally on the air between 8:30-9am.
  • Kathi Kamen Goldmark: Producer of “West Coast Live”- Host Sedge Thomson interviews the most original, outrageous, and thought-provoking artists based on the West Coast. They often cover music and books.  70% of the authors they have on are fiction authors. The show airs on Saturday mornings in front of a live audience. (She will comp a ticket to a show for any NCBPMA publicist who would like to attend a show [that is not sold out]. Give her a call and mention the program.)
  • Connie Kim: The News Programming and Web Producer at KCBS. She is also the host of the “KCBS Community Corner.”

Questions:
How do you put a program together?

  • Connie/KCBS – For the news show the content has to be relevant and has to be presented in 4-5 minutes. She looks for speakers who can summarize their content concisely and can stick to the content. For the Community Corner show she tends to interview authors, the segments are about 9-10 minutes, and it should be relevant to an event or group in the local community. She gets ideas for her shows by reading press releases, reading SFGate, and Salon.com.
  • Laura/KPFA – The hosts look for controversial topics and dynamic speakers. They look for relevant topics to the news of the day and for under-reported topics. Local issues are important, too. She looks for ideas and topics in The New York Times, Alternet.com, California Progress Report, and free coffee shop newspapers.
  • Kathi/WCL – This show is unique in that it travels around from week to week to a variety of locations. The show is aired live with a live audience. Generally the show will have a central theme and there will be approximately 6-7 guests all related to the theme. She describes the show as a caravan that rolls in then rolls out! She looks at Booktour.com to see which authors are coming to town and when. She reads press releases and looks at publisher’s catalogs.

How has radio become more digital?

  • Connie/KCBS – They have a very active website and use Twitter and FaceBook. Now radio has to be much more visual. The Internet has forced radio to become more visual and more interactive. They receive much more feedback now from listeners.
  • Laura/KPFA – Because they are a non-profit they have a lot less money to work with. They are still building infrastructure to take advantage of digital technology and social media. They are integrating technology in their shows more and more.
  • Kathi/WCL – She admits that they have a “pathetic” online presence. There are only the two of them making the show so they are limited. They don’t offer podcasts, they don’t have a website, but they do have a weekly email alert that goes out to listeners announcing the upcoming shows.

What do you want in a pitch and in the follow-up?

  • Connie/KCBS – She wants a concise, short email. She receives almost 800 emails per day. She will respond to you if she is interested in your topic. She doesn’t mind email follow up at all. But when she does say no thank you…believe her! Don’t keep following up if the answer has been no. Do send a copy of the book. She will always need to see a copy, so it saves a step and it saves time! Prefers a real book, not an eBook.
  • Laura/KPFA – Put ALL the facts in the first paragraph! The title, the author, the topic – basically the Who, What, Why, When, Where. Too often she doesn’t have time to read the entire email. She encourages all publicists to follow up often. She encourages publicists to be quick and to the point. Time is her worst enemy. It’s okay to pitch on FaceBook. Okay to receive unsolicited review copies. Again, she has to see the book anyways, so it saves time. Does not want eBooks…too hard to jump around in the book and browse.
  • Kathi/WCL – If you leave her a voice mail message PLEASE leave the phone number first and say it slowly, so that she doesn’t have to listen to the whole message in order to get the number.  She appreciates general enthusiasm from the publicist. She encourages publicists to put a sticky note on the book with the dates that the author is available for the show. They don’t have a Facebook page. She likes receiving the actual book. She does not want an eBook.

What changes do you see down the road for radio?

  • Connie/KCBS – More social networking. Website analytics show the producers what is popular and what is not.
  • Laura/KPFA – Radio is becoming more and more a visual medium. KPFA is video taping the studio interviews and posting them on their Facebook page. Streaming online will increase audiences for local radio. Podcasts will also increase a radio stations profile outside of its broadcast area.
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