I never really considered becoming a talk radio host but when the opportunity was presented last week I was quite interested. Perhaps it really appealed to my vanity 😉
I received a call informing me that my blog was considered to have material that would be appropriate for a radio show. I was asked if I would be interested in hosting a 13 week pilot program of Voice America’s business network. The producer said that a recent post where I had stated that, “my clients are all across Canada and my long-term strategy is to grow my network outside the country”, was what piqued his interest.
I fancied the idea of increasing my reach and trying out a new medium (though I have been involved in several podcasts). My main concerns were the amount of preparation time and the actual delivery of a good quality one-hour show each week. Each show averages about two hours prep time, I was told, so hosting a show would be a significant commitment; but it would be possible to pre-record a couple of shows. Unless I wanted to do all of the talking (boring), then I would also have to find interesting people to interview. Opportunities for co-marketing were discussed too.
I listened to some of the existing Voice America business radio shows and found some mediocre ones, but also good programs like Anita Campbell’s Small Business Trends Radio. Anita is quite positive about her Voice America radio hosting, which she does in addition to her Small Business Trends site and newsletter. Anita’s show has attracted sponsorship from Six Disciplines as well.
I couldn’t find out much else about the company, so I considered the pros and cons for a couple of days. About a week later, I was contacted to discuss the business details. During this second conversation, I was made aware of the “production, promotion, training, marketing, internal web-site development, archive hosting, personnel overhead and bandwidth expenses“, and that in order to ensure that hosts will stay committed, an up-front fee is required. This fee equated to the cost of hosting this blog – for twenty years.
In light of this fee-for-service, in addition to what I had already considered to be a significant work effort, I began to lose interest. However, Voice America in total has about seven times more readers than this website does. Therefore, I could have a chance to increase my audience; but how many of these would become paying clients?
What I sell are intangible and usually complex services, with a proposal submitted only after having spent a fair bit of time with my client. Could Voice America radio hosting for 13 weeks help me with this? I’m not sure. Furthermore, my clients are usually referred through my network, and some clients check out my website before contacting me. There are two years of my comments and perspectives on this website. Should I reinforce this archive with audio? Again, I’m not sure. Anyway, I decided to decline this service primarily due to the cost, but also because of an uncertain return on investment.
Further investigation into Modavox, the parent company, yields this information from the NASDAQ:
Modavox produces weekly talk radio content programs that are distributed 24/7 on the Internet through its flagship Voice America channel at WWW.VOICEAMERICA.COM. The company derives its revenues through production fees received from hosts featured on the talk radio content programs and recently sponsor fees received from sponsors of certain of these programs. Production fees are generally sold in 13-week segments and are generally prepaid. Sponsor fees are generally split with the host. The company has also developed an e-commerce technology that will now allow host and sponsors to sell products and services on their programs. In future periods the company expects to earn revenues through the use by hosts and sponsors of this e-commerce technology. The company has also recently begun to market its patented Metaphor technology on a platform that will allow business and specialty and affinity groups to communicate live and stored voice and video content to intended audiences over secure internet channels.
I think that this medium, live Internet radio, has advantages for certain types of businesses, especially those selling a product/service mix or for someone who has a good sponsor that matches the program. As an open source evangelist and a provider of technology evaluation services, I try to be vendor-neutral. This makes sponsorship a difficult issue, because I cannot endorse any single product to the exclusion of others. Perhaps sponsors would flock to my door, but I doubt it.