Radio has a set pattern of listening: During certain days–and certain times of the day–a certain number and a certain type of people will be listening, and these listeners will be doing similar things. For targeting stations and shows, I recommend www.radio-locator.com. To get the best results from your pitches, here’s what you need to know about "dayparts."
Overnights (weekdays, midnight to 6 a.m.).
This period has the fewest listeners, and therefore it is least in demand by interview guests. This means, of course, that it is easiest to get booked here, and it also means that hosts are more likely to keep promoting your book for several days after your interview, and–if you have provided free copies for listeners–to keep giving out copies. Listeners during this daypart are often young (college age) and often truckers. Both are high-response call-in groups. Many shows on during the overnight hours are not local; they’re satellite shows, so call the station before you spend time pitching a program that can’t have local guests.
Evenings (weekdays, 7 p.m. to midnight).
The next higher level of listenership occurs in the evenings; as with overnights, it skews young. Talk stations have more openings for interviews during this daypart than music stations. Booking is more difficult than with overnights, because most people who want to be interviewed try to get time slots with at least as many listeners as evenings attract. A few of the big syndicated shows are broadcast in the evenings, but they are extremely difficult to get booked on, of course.
Middays (weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
Next up in terms of numbers of listeners is middays. This daypart tends to skew older (since kids are in school), and thus it works better if lots of people in your target audience can be found in an office crowd. Middays also tend to be the highest-rated daypart for adult contemporary stations (because of the office listeners). But with talk stations, midday is also when you start running into a lot of big syndicated shows where you will be competing against celebrities for air time. There’s no correlation to market size; some talk stations that reach tiny markets are all syndicated in the midday, and some major stations are too. With music stations, there is a better chance that the host (DJ) will be local.
Afternoon (or PM) drive (weekdays, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.).
School kids–and the parents who drive them–are on the road around 3 p.m., and office workers start heading home around 5 p.m., so this daypart has the second-highest number of listeners. Since everyone wants afternoon drive, it is very difficult to book. And music stations are extremely tough to get on in this time slot because they don’t want to interrupt the music flow.
Morning (or AM) drive (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.).
This is the number-one period for listeners; everyone is heading to school and to work. Morning drive is the most critical daypart for almost every station, and most of the ad dollars are spent on it. The highest-paid talent is on the air during morning drive, and most of the weather and traffic reports occur then. And for some small-market stations, morning drive is the only daypart that accommodates live guests. The good news is that morning drive is the easiest time to get booked on music stations, even though it’s the hardest with talk stations. Be aware, though, that if you do get booked on morning drive, you are going to have to take constant breaks while the station does its traffic, weather, etc.
Weekends. On weekends, everything changes. Weekends have fewer listeners than weekdays at any time of the day, which leads most stations to do something totally different. They offer many special-topic shows that may fit your book exactly. Many smaller music stations air talk shows on weekends. Many talk stations that are all syndicated during the week go local during the weekend. However, some small talk stations that are local during the week go syndicated on the weekend, so you’ll have to explore possibilities station by station. Generally, though, it’s good to start by trying for bookings on Saturdays and Sundays. And in any event, the best place to search for stations is at www.radio-locator.com.