How to Write a Radio Show Proposal
You may have a great idea for a radio show -- but to get someone to actually let you produce it on their airwaves, you have to show them a great proposal, or "pitch." Your proposal needs to show the station managers and program directors that you've thought carefully about your audience, the show format and the content, and that you've selected a qualified team.
Research the Guidelines
Check the station's website or ask the program director to provide you with a new program proposal form and the pitch guidelines. Typically, the form will include sections for details about your desired time slot; the hosts, engineers and support staff with whom you plan to work; the show's focus; and resources you'll need from the station to produce the show. Find out whether there's a deadline for proposals and whether you'll need to attend training. Ask whether you must participate in a production, engineering or administrative role before you're allowed to propose a show, as is the case in many community stations.
Do Your Homework
Deliver a solid proposal based on strong research. Read over the station's mission statement and its "About Us" web page to get a feel for the types of programming produced there. Network with other DJs or program hosts at the station and ask to see their program proposals or to get tips for success. Every station manager or program director has differing wants or needs, and your proposed program should aim to fill a gap, cover something new or fit into the station's niche. If the station doesn't have its own proposal form, check out the forms or pitches from other stations, as they can give you a very good idea of how to structure your proposal.
Elements of a Good Proposal
Start out with the title of the show at the top of the page, followed by a "tag line" -- the one-liner that you'd use to describe your show. Use bullet points to lay out the show details, including its concept; the intended audience and why the show matters to that audience; the length of the show; and a proposed time slot. Outline the structure of the show. For example, describe how you'll start with guest questions, then move into an expert interview, then end with host commentary. Provide background information about you and your team members, and describe radio or broadcasting experience you have. Include a few ideas for show topics and list details of people you'd interview or feature on the show.
Record a Sample Show
If you're experienced in radio, make a demo reel of your best interviews or music compilations. Provide that reel to the station manager or program director to show what you're capable of. If you're new to radio and don't have much in the way of a reel, create a sample show. Record interviews using a small hand-held recorder or smartphone, then use audio editing software, which sometimes come standard on your computer, to put together an intro. Also include "linkings" -- the talk between songs and interviews; an outtro; and other features you'd want to go into your show. At some community radio stations, you might even be able to use the station recording and editing software to prepare your show sample.
- Valley Free Radio: New Program Proposal
- Blue Ox Radio: Blue Ox Radio Program Proposal
- CBC Summer Series Radio Pitch: How To Do It: The Guide to Things You Hope You Never Need to Know
- CBC Radio: Pitch to CBC Radio
- Air Media: NPR Pitch Guidelines
- Creating Powerful Radio: Getting, Keeping & Growing Audiences; Valerie Geller
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.