Radio – A Happy Medium for Writers?
Many authors juggle other jobs alongside their writing careers – could radio presenting make that perfect balance? Self-published author and radio presenter Sarah Banham shares her experiences from both sides of the microphone.
Radio is interesting medium; we listen to stations that air music which helps to lift our spirits and other times we tune in to talk shows offering participation in cerebral discussion on a level that might send you running to find a dictionary. Finding something in between can seem like a personal goal.
But how can any of this help a writer?
In my day job, I am a writer but I also volunteer spare time to present a weekly show on community radio. The two go together quite nicely in this world of 24-hour media, however my radio show is aimed specifically at writers and all those in the industry whose jobs surround books.
Ten years ago, while promoting my novels via local radio stations, I kept contact with several presenters and station managers. Fast forward five years and I had an idea for a radio show so pitched it to one of the stations. Few ideas are met with instant enthusiasm so when mine was, I was excited. It was named ‘Writer’s Block’ (due to its time slot on the schedule rather than the inability to write) and I was given training on how to operate the desk via dials, faders, microphones (the list goes on) and presented my very first show on Saint FM in Essex.
The show’s aim has always been the same; to showcase all the great creative talent within the county and is specifically aimed at listeners who enjoy creative writing. I have never heard of another radio show like this that devotes its entire broadcasting time to creatives. Because of this, I invite writers, jacket designers, agents, publishers, audio book voice actors, proof readers, editors (the list goes on) to offer advice, answer questions and generally have a good discussion with them often about the industry itself and how fast it changes.
I invite participation via social media which adds to the listenership as we are online and FM (worldwide and local). I get a lot of listeners from overseas, ironically for community radio, and different time zones prove interesting. In the five years since its conception, Writer’s Block has enjoyed over 300 guests. At first I interviewed my extensive circle of writing pals, then their writing related friends and then, as networking goes, people got to hear about the show and now they contact me rather than me contacting others. I now have a two-hour show during which I have one guest, several music tracks and lots of lit-related tips, news, event information. The show broadcasts live and recorded so those were not able to listen in the first time, will get another opportunity. The show’s Facebook page gives more details on scheduling.
Over time, writers have learned that radio reaches wide audiences. For those who independently publish, this offers a great opportunity to get their books noticed. More than that, though, a lengthy discussion with the authors about inspiration, plot, structure, characterisation and publishing humanises the author and answers questions listeners often have with regards to their own manuscripts. As a self-published writer myself, I ask the questions I would have found helpful when I first began ten years ago. I also give guests the opportunity to mention websites, social media pages and, of course, where to buy the book.
I organise meeting them weeks before the show so I can debrief guests and sometimes I receive a copy of their book enabling me to research questions that help the on-air interview go smoothly. I also ask guests to listen in to several shows before they come to the studio so they understand the format and the calibre of guests. I ensure the show is researched, produced and presented well and afterwards I edit it for another airing. Colne Radio also get the edited version too so there is even more free promotion for guests.
My idea of a perfect guest would be one who is relaxed, knowledgeable about their book and paces their voice. Being friendly and positive goes a long way too.
Providing you remember to add some you-time in your weekly schedule, writing and broadcasting offers a happy medium.