You're asking the right questions! Station staff have a lot on their plate, so the more you can do to make their lives easier, the better your chances of getting picked up. We reached out to a friend in station programming to ask them some questions you've asked us before. Here are the questions/answers:
How do you find new producers?
I often learn about producers through distribution newsletters from NPR, PRX, APM, etc. Recently, I’ve also made connections with producers at the Public Radio Content Conference. It doesn’t hurt to build your web presence, either. And, make your demo materials easy to access. Persistence and prevalence are key.
If a producer you've never worked with before reaches out to you about their show, what are the key elements you'd look for in their pitch?
What are you doing differently from other programs, and why is it relevant to my listeners right now? There are so many shows that claim to be on the cutting edge, but often they blend into programming we already offer (or could otherwise pick up from hundreds of other producers). So, consider studying our program schedule and identifying a specific niche you’re filling to help bolster our audience.
On a personal level, I’d also be curious about how your production approach differs from others in terms of its audience retention and engagement. We don’t need just another personality on mic rehashing the same issues already discussed in other programs.
The longevity of your program is also important. Is this a standalone special program? Is it a limited run series with only a few episodes? Or, if it’s meant to be indefinite, you need to convince me that you have a stable production force to churn out new episodes on a consistent basis without disruption.
Do you have advice for new producers who are trying to format their show for broadcast?
Programmers rely on consistency. Study other broadcast clocks and note the essentials—you’ll need a billboard, a five-minute filler for the newshole, and a few well-spaced breaks. It’s not as difficult as it might seem; as you produce your program, remember that music padding can be your friend in terms of buying time. If your show runs long, however, your editor will need to get out the chopping block.
Finally, don’t take it personally if your show isn’t picked up. It’s often about the right time and right place, but you shouldn’t hesitate to solicit feedback either way.