How to Move Your Podcast to AM, FM, or Satellite Radio

The basics for getting your radio show off the ground

Traditional radio (AM and FM) may not be as popular as it once was, yet plenty of podcasters are looking to get their content on AM, FM, or satellite radio. Here's a plan to help you move your podcast or internet radio show to a traditional platform. There's no magic to make the move a success, but this article can provide some direction.

Ensure You Have What You Need

To be a success on any platform, you'll need a program that has great content—material that addresses an interesting topic that you or your hosts discuss in an engaging way. It also helps to have a desire for success and a willingness to work hard.

Create a Demo

Nobody has much time for you, especially not program directors and radio station owners. If you get a window of opportunity, make the most of it.

The demo you create for your podcast or internet radio show should be no longer than five minutes. Most of the time, you won't get more than 30 seconds to make an impression. People who make programming choices either know what they're looking for and judge you against that standard, or they are listening for something so new, fresh, and unique that it demands more attention.

If you get past the first 30 seconds and a program director listens to all five minutes of your demo, that's great. If five minutes isn't enough, they'll contact you for more.

Because the first 30 to 45 seconds are important, make sure your demo starts with something riveting and compelling. Find a snippet of audio that showcases your talents or your show in the best light.

Label your demo with the podcast or show name and include your contact information, including your email, phone number, and website.

Also include a short cover letter and a one-sheeter—all the important information about your show on one standard sheet of paper. Besides not having much time to listen to demos, program directors don't want to read a long, drawn-out history of what you're doing. Give them the basic facts: who, what, where, how, and why. If you have stats on current listenership or any impressive demographic information about your audience, include that, too.

A demo can be edited together in an audio montage format. It doesn't have to follow the congruency of a standard radio aircheck.

Shop Your Demo Around

Most people would like to be paid for doing their radio show, earn income from the ads sold during it, or at least do it for free and use it as a platform to promote their interests and parlay it into something bigger.

Suppose you're not interested in buying radio time on a local station. In that case, the next best thing is to convince the program director that you have content that would benefit them. Take time to listen to local radio stations, especially on weekends. Weekends are the weak link for AM and FM because stations often pick up cheap syndicated or satellite programming if they can't automate and voice-track. This is true of many talk stations.

Listen to what these stations are doing and build a case for giving you a shot with your podcast or ​internet radio show. Find a good fit for your show with a local radio station and the demographic it serves.

Mail a CD or email your demo and written materials to the program director. Follow up with a phone call or email. Expect to be ignored. This is where it's going to get frustrating. Work on several stations at once. See if you can get feedback on your content, and ask what you can do to improve it and make it more appropriate for the station. Understand that there is always room for improvement, and embrace any constructive criticism you receive. Incorporate the suggestions into a new demo and start again.

Cheat a Little With Cash

Have you ever heard a local weekend program on a talk radio station about gardening, home repair, or auto maintenance? These are typically hosted by local business people or hobbyists who have a passion for a subject and the knowledge to discuss it and answer questions. And you may have wondered how they got onto the radio.

The primary motivation for commercial AM and FM is revenue. If you can help the station achieve that goal, you may end up with a radio show. A local station can make money if a show garners good ratings. Popular programming attracts advertisers, and the radio station's sales department sells ads to various clients.

Many stations also run paid programming, and they cash the check whether or not anyone is listening. Suppose you're a plumber, and you want to do a show on Saturdays about DIY home plumbing repairs while at the same time promoting your business. Many stations will sell you 30 or 60 minutes of time, especially if you agree to pay the top of the rate card or a premium rate. In this case, the first person you need to talk to at the station is a sales representative, not the program director.

If you can afford airtime and are willing to pay, the sales rep or account executive will invite you to the program director's office. You may not get the exact time slot you want, and a diligent program director will insist that you be able to conduct a listenable show. If you pay a premium for your own show, however, the station may provide an engineer or producer, so you don't have to learn the technical end of things. Plus, when you buy time, you can promote your website, products, or sell your ​sponsors.​


Sometimes, the hardest thing in this process is to believe in yourself. You might have a great podcast or show on internet radio, but convincing the rest of the world—or at least someone with the power to do something about it—isn't always easy.

Use every opportunity you can to pitch your ideas to people who might be in a position to help. Avoid being arrogant or conceited, but don't be too humble. Express confidence in your product.

Every journey starts with one step. Make a commitment to begin and then move forward.

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