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Telling Your Story on Radio

As someone who works on radio, I’m always on the lookout for what’s interesting and relevant to the platform primarily as well as to the programme that I host on Ukhozi FM. That’s not the only way content makes its way onto radio and other platforms though; we also get content from people who send us information about their various projects and initiatives.

I’ve noticed a few things about people who approach us with what they believe is content and what they believe should get coverage. It’s not only people who are in the PR space who approach us for interviews, sometimes it’s people who are just passionate about their work and are really trying to grow their business or get exposure for their business.

The ‘few things’ I’ve noticed?

1. People don’t seem to do research on the content focus of a programme before they approach you for an interview. They also don’t seem to do research on the platform before they approach you for an interview. This goes for PR people (which always surprises me) as well as people who approach directly.

Let me make an example. I host an evening talk show between 20:00pm and 22:00pm. Now, I can’t do an interview on sex toys at 20:15pm – it’s family listening time and on the station I work for, which is a Public Broadcast Services I can’t do that. That’s on a macro level.
On a micro level, I also can’t do an interview on sex toys at 20:15pm because the show I host has a huge chunk of education content which targets youth.

Lesson: Know the Platform
Familiarize yourself with the kind of content that generally, the media platform that you want coverage on covers and how they spread their content. Listen to the show that you want to score an interview on. It might or might not match what you want to be interviewed for; you’ll only know this is if you listen.

2. I work for a radio station that broadcasts in isiZulu. People who are isiZulu home language speakers but because they don’t converse much in isiZulu and are more comfortable in English will:
a) approach you for an interview and send all their information etc

b) if the content is relevant you then discuss the interview with them and all this going well, they accept. You then tell them “remember it’s Ukhozi FM, let’s please use isiZulu except for when it’s terminology that can’t be translated e.g CT Scan”. The person will agree and since you’ll be speaking to them in conversational isiZulu and they sound perfectly fine all is well; you think.

c) Interview time arrives and you call the person and line them up (putting them on hold to wait to go on air) for their interview and they either tell you ‘oh my goodness – isiZulu sami is SO bad’ (remember that you’re going on air in 30 seconds) or they go on air and speak 88% English and no matter how you as the presenter try to bring them back to isiZulu, they go on in English. To add insult to injury some will say ‘you didn’t brief me that I should speak isiZulu’.

The above excludes non-isiZulu speakers that we will invite knowing that their isiZulu is not what is called ‘isiZulu A’ and we have to interpret some parts.

Lesson: Speak the Audiences’s Language
When you’re being interviewed, you’re not speaking to the presenter; the presenter is facilitating the communication of your message to the listener. So when you speak English to the very person you want to listen to you but they tuned into an isiZulu station, that’s self-sabotage because to them that’s a tune-out factor i.e. Something that makes them stop listening to you or possibly even change stations. You’re just the person that came onto their station ‘wakwitiza’.

3. You, as the person who would like the interview are intimately connected with your subject matter and may not be objective as to whether it fits the platform or can be afforded an interview. Again, a practical example. Our team cannot submit a show plan that shows a discussion on promoting a Caribbean themed party; the show is just not suited to that.
Lesson: You love your content. We understand the people you want to share your content with.

Know your story, tell it on the right platform, tell it in a way that helps people remember it.

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