“Lots of people act well, but few people talk well.
This shows that talking is the more difficult of the two.”
So you want to start a metaphysical talk show or podcast!
Congratulations! With internet radio now available, just about anyone can start their own Internet Radio Show or Podcast. As someone recently said to me, “There’s an awful lot of chatter out there right now!” And yes there is. People have a lot to say.
Both internet radio hosting and podcasting can be rewarding experiences. As the host of a successful tarot radio podcast for over three years now with over 220 episodes and several hundreds of thousands of listeners, I have learned some tricks of the trade that I hope might benefit others considering the same. While anyone can do a radio show, not everyone can do it well. Here are some tips on what I have found works best. With thousands of podcasts and radio shows to choose from, you'll want yours to stand out from the chaotic crowd of choices.
Remember, too, that I am not only a radio podcast host, I’m also a listener. I have scoured the internet in search of good education and entertainment for my commutes. I know what captivates me, and I know what irks or bores me.
30 Tips for a Successful Metaphysical
1. DON’T WASTE YOUR LISTENERS’ TIME. This is the #1 Biggest Rule of broadcasting if you want anyone to return to your program more than once. You’ll hear me say this again and again. Your listeners and their time are important. Content, content, content! Below are many ways you can use your on-air time wisely.
2. BE A PRO, BE KIND. Never, ever use your platform as a place to put down, humiliate, slander or make fun of another person. This is an absolute abuse of the venue. If you see any temporary peak in listener numbers when you do this -- trust me --that is the sound of your reputation going down the toilet.
3. COME PREPARED. Actually come over-prepared. Please don’t wing it and expect listeners not to notice.
4. STAY ON TOPIC. A show should not be 60 minutes of random fillers. For example, I won’t be tuning into a tarot or metaphysical podcast to hear you talk for 40 minutes about the Nascar races you went to last week or the latest television series you’re following. Please honor my time and stick to the topic you have announced. If you have side stuff to say, please keep it as brief as possible and return to the topic. Give me substance and a reason to keep listening, both to this episode as well as your future ones.
5. TIME = CONTENT. If you only have 30 minutes of content, please do not schedule a 90 minute show. More is not necessarily better. You are wasting my time and the time of your listeners, and breaking the #1 rule above by carelessly using broadcasting space. Wasted time = big yawns and changed channels.
6. AVOID DEAD AIR at all costs. This means keeping your eyes off your chat room if you cannot speak and read at the same time. This means not asking your audience if they have any questions, and then waiting 30 seconds in silence to find out that no, they do not have any. If they have questions, they will ask. Keep the show moving. If you can't do two things at once, focus on the microphone and your guest.
7. LET GUESTS TALK. Please … let your guest speak. People are listening to learn from the variety of guests and topics. Don’t talk over your guests unless you have to reel them back to the topic or if you have a question to ask and must interrupt to squeeze it in. Hosting is not about you unless your show is done completely solo. You are just the conduit. This is about your guest and what they have to share. It's annoying (and rude) when a guest is in the middle of a sentence and the host stops them to talk about him/herself.
8. NOTE YOUR NERVOUS HABITS. Take note of your personal nervous habits. Note your rate of speech (nervous people often speak too fast). Are you repeatedly clearing your throat, or is the show full of random nervous laughter (a sign of an amateur)? I learned right away in my first episode that I and my cohost were members of the “um” club. Immediately, I worked hard to remove the word “um” from my vocabulary as much as possible. It’s not perfect, but I have cut down the “ums” significantly. Listen to yourself speak, find what needs improvement, and work on creating a polished, professional presentation. I've polished up my own voice significantly since starting radio. And I'm still not completely satisfied. It's an ongoing process.
9. DON’T BE AN INFORMERCIAL. Please do not bore me with unending announcements about your latest sale, bargain, item, membership drives, or website pages…. Make these announcements brief and secondary to your show or you will lose listeners fast. No one is interested in a 90 minute infomercial. No one.
10. KEEP ALL MUSIC LEGAL. Never play licensed music unless you are licensed to use it and paying to use it. Put simply, any other use is illegal. No excuses, even if it is your favorite song and you think it makes your show sound cool and groovy. This includes your intro music.
11. AVOID FREQUENT BREAKS. Please do not take frequent music intermission breaks in talk shows. As a matter of fact, you should not need any intermissions unless either your show runs over 60 minutes or you have a weak bladder. It’s okay to put a quick ad in the middle if you need to promote something, but the operative word here is “quick.”
12. TALK SHOWS SHOULD AVOID FILLER MUSIC. If you play random music for a space-filler or intermission, you risk losing the interest of listeners. Metaphysics is already a tight niche in itself. Add your favorite genre of music, which I can guarantee is not the favorite genre of the majority of your listeners (especially if all you can use is podcast-safe music), and you will either have people dropping out or fast forwarding through your music. We can turn to our favorite DJ for music. And always remember Rule #5, above, for talk shows.
13. BE ORIGINAL. Please keep your show unique. If someone is doing something, please do not become a carbon copy. Create something uniquely yours. Express yourself creatively. Honor others’ ideas as theirs and do not use them without permission.
14. KEEP RANTS OFF THE AIR. Keep the whining to a scarce minimum. The metaphysical community in particular repels against negativity. Be a safe and positive space for your listeners. On air rants are annoying.
15. END WHEN IT’S TIME. Unless you are required to fill a certain amount of time (i.e., having purchased a 60 minute time slot on an internet radio channel that is sandwiched tightly between two other shows), don’t feel pressured to keep the time of your show ending to the minute. For example, if you run out of material after an hour, please do not just blather on for another hour just because it is a 2-hour show and you need to fill the space. Please end the show if the content is complete. Please respect the time and intelligence of your listeners. If the content is rich and continues past closing time, it's okay to run over if you or your guest have no time pressures.
16. KEEP TECHNICAL ISSUES PRIVATE. Please do not bore your audience by explaining on air every technical difficulty you are having unless this absolutely cannot be avoided because the issues are causing some surprising sounds to the listeners (like dead air or static). Work as best you can to sort it out transparently. Keep it pro, and remember Rule #1. I have heard shows go on for 30 – 40 minutes, wasting airspace and my valuable time discussing their random technical problems ad nauseum. Please practice off the air, okay?
17. SOLVE TECHNICAL PROBLEMS. If you find you are having repeated technical difficulties, please find out what is causing it and repair the problem. I don’t want to be hearing the same technical failure blunders 50 shows in a row. Remember Rule #1.
18. AVOID POLITICS. Avoid politics at all costs unless the topic of your show is specifically about politics. People are bothered by politics, particularly the spiritual sect, so keep politics off the air. If you do feel you need to mention something, handle it with sensitivity, be tasteful and remember Rule #2.
19. KEEP SOUND QUALITY AS HIGH AS POSSIBLE. Use the best quality equipment you have. I have heard hosts provide shows from cell phones so muffled and distorted that I could barely understand what is being said. The show may have been good, but no one would never have known … because most of what was said was unintelligible. Listeners shouldn’t have to struggle to hear. Test your guests' telephone or Skype quality BEFORE the show begins. Please do not waste your listeners' time with sound checks during broadcast time.
20. AVOID ROTE READING. If you can’t read and make it sound natural and conversational, please do not read. Bullet items you want to discuss instead, if you must, and create your own natural off-the-cuff sentences. This will sound much more natural than the monotone droning of someone who is obviously reading.
21. HONOR MULTIPLE SYSTEMS. Don’t put down people who use different metaphysical systems than you. It's okay to have an opinion, but avoid coming across as judgmental. Invariably, someone will be listening who uses the system you’re complaining about. And guess what? They aren’t going to switch teams. They’re going to be turned off. And that means turning YOU off. And your show. Buh-bye.
22. DO ANNOUNCE UPCOMING TOPICS/SHOWS. Do let people know what is coming down the road and how they can benefit from your program.
23. DON’T BE SPAMMY. Market yourself on social networks when a show is coming so people know to listen in. But please don’t advertise your show 20 times in the same place or email people multiple times about the same show. Read up on good social network 'netiquette.
24. HONOR OTHERS’ NETWORK SPACE. Don’t announce your show in places where random advertising may not be appreciated. Don’t put your advertisement on someone else’s wall (tagging the guest’s name is okay). Put the announcements only on your own page or on accepted forums designated to this. Control the number of emails blasts and event notices or you'll start to annoy your recipients. I've quietly blocked people just to avoid the endless spam they generate.
26. KEEP YOUR INTRO BUMPER BRIEF. 60 seconds maximum is adequate for your intro bumper, less is even better. About 20 seconds is ideal. Mine is 60 seconds and even I think it's too long and would like to reduce it. And remember, no licensed music unless you are paying for it. If there is no talking in the intro bumper and there is just music, PLEASE keep it under 15 - 20 seconds. Please do not play a whole song. I beg you.
27. MIND YOUR MANNERS. Be polite to your guests and call-ins. I cannot tell you the number of people who have emailed me regarding a rude or publicly humiliating experience with an internet radio host. This should not even require mentioning, but manners are everything. You are not being cool by being pompous. Get over yourself; be polite.
28. KNOW YOUR GUESTS. Study what they do. Be prepared with questions and ask unusual questions. If they've written a book, please read it first so you can have an intelligent conversation about it. Oprah reads the book of every author she interviews. And she's a busy lady...with a pretty successful talk show, at that. If your guest has created a deck or product, use it so you can be insightful with your questions.
29. KNOW WHO YOUR AUDIENCE IS. And stick to the topics they love. If your show is geared toward education, you'll bore the people waiting in line for a reading. People seeking readings don't necessarily want to learn how to do them. If your show is about tarot, avoid going too far off the tarot path. Find your niche, know it well, and aim directly at it. People will then know what to expect from you. If you're sloppy with your topics, you will lose your audience.
30. THERE’S ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE. Don’t feel threatened by others in the same field. Joint ventures actually amplify the attention to both sites and enhance the business of each other via a shared audience. Work together with people. Speak kindly of others. I love to cross-promote, and have only stopped promoting shows that have violated Rule #2. Encourage different venues on your beloved topic and support your peers. No one ever "made it" alone. Everyone needs support.
Stephen King once said that if you can’t edit out 10% of a book you have written, you’ve not ready to be published yet. Make every sentence worthwhile.
This goes for the spoken word format as well. Honor your listeners and their time. Bring solid and prepared content, be respectful and positive, and you will likely find a wonderful following of listeners who will share the same love of the topic as you do.
Enjoy, and much success to you!
Here's wishing you a tarot-filled week of new adventures!
Learn more about the secrets of reading tarot at our award-winning educational tarot podcast.
See a listing of all show topics HERE.