Industry Views

Monday Memo: Weekend 101

By Holland Cooke

imIt’s the most effective tactic in marketing: Free samples. And the attorneys, financial advisors, real estate agents, veterinarians, and other ask-the-expert hosts who broker time for weekend call-in shows can drum up lots of new business…IF they execute well.

It’s a big “if,” because they’re not career broadcasters. So, technique that’s second nature to us is news to them. And because, at too many stations, there’s little or no coaching. Here are some of the fundamentals I convey to weekenders at client stations, and brokering hosts elsewhere who aren’t getting aircheck support:

— Plan each show. Re-write any news-about-your-topic or other material you will read, rather than reading verbatim paragraph-length excerpts from newspaper clippings or other source material you found on the Internet or elsewhere. That stuff wasn’t written for the ear. Put it into your own words. Practice aloud, to yourself, before the show.

— Remember: YOU are the expert. It’s Greek to them. So, avoid lingo and acronyms. Instead of percentages (“36%”) use fractions (“just over a third”).

— Listen carefully to the caller’s question. Don’t interrupt unduly…but don’t let ‘em ramble either. Once they’ve asked a question or described their situation, recommend what they should do.  Listeners in similar situations will relate.


Do’s and Don’ts:

— DON’T squander time at the beginning of the show with long hellos, or small talk about the weather (which aired at the end of the newscast just before your show began), or other off-topic blah-blah-blah.

— DO introduce yourself, and succinctly explain how you can help the listener. I tell weekenders I coach to begin with their elevator speech: “I’m Chuck Thompson, from Chuck’s Auto Repair, and I’m here to help you get more miles out of the-car-you’ve-already-paid-for.” If your business has a slogan, that should also be the mantra for your radio show, to keep your on-air message consistent with your other marketing.

— DON’T wait! Give out the call-in number right-off-the-top, even if your first segment is an interview or you tee-up a topic by reading news/product reviews/etc. During that segment, your call screener can be lining-up callers.

— DO solicit calls overtly. And announce the phone number real slowly, like you’re reading the winning lottery number. Say “call me right now.” And at the end of each call (unless all the lines are lit), offer that “that opens up a line for you,” and re-announce the phone number.

— DO get to the phones ASAP, best caller first. Callers call when they hear other callers, so nothing explains that it’s a call-in advice show like you answering callers’ questions with helpful advice.

— DON’T assume that anyone but you hears your whole show. Listeners constantly tune-in. So DO re-set throughout the hour. Come out of each commercial break as though the show was just beginning. “Welcome back to ‘Larry Explains the Law.’ I’m attorney Larry Jamieson, answering your legal questions right now on WXXX. So, call me! [phone number, nice and slowly, twice].”

All of the above is host technique. And there’s another character, behind the scenes, whose method is critical to brokered hosts’ return on investment: the call screener. Share with yours my 6-minute video at, where I also explain how to warm-up slow phones.

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins;” and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books.  Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke