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BY TY STOCKTON
The first music video ever broad-cast on MTV was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. It ushered in a new era for music that valued what we saw as much as what we heard.
Though there was no single prophetic event to herald a new age for terrestrial radio stations, times have certainly changed. Very few radio stations survive on the content they broadcast over the FM or AM airwaves. They augment their income with ads placed on Internet-based “stations” and app-driven broadcasts available to smartphone users. These forums allow for both audio and video content.
The staff of those traditional radio stations are expected to keep up with it all. They produce their daily talk shows or provide some local flair between songs, and they write blogs, post videos and add to the online content in their spare moments. Many of those people are desperate for help.
Unfortunately, the stations don’t often have much — if any —money for freelance budgets. If you’re lucky, you can find a station that needs help and has some extra cash to share in exchange for regular, engaging content. Come up with an idea for a blog, provide some 30-second to one-minute videos, or illustrate your blog with photos, and you’ll have a better chance at a long-term gig. You might be able to parlay that into voice-over work for ads for the products and services that relate to your blog, too.
If you can’t score a paying deal with a radio station, you can still make it worthwhile if you approach this new market from an old-fashioned angle.
Radio stations may not have money to spare for content, but very few will turn down a partnership that brings them extra money. Some still barter for time on their on-air broadcasts. This is the process by which you produce a show (generally a talk show), find a few sponsors and give the show to the station to broadcast when they have time for it. You get the money from the sponsors (or pay some of the sponsorship money to the station for the time your show runs), and the station gets to sell ads before and after the program.
Bartering for time has largely become a thing of the past on the airwaves, but it’s still alive and well on the Internet side of radio. If you can produce a regular, engaging blog on say, archery, and convince your local archery shop to sponsor it for a few hundred bucks a month, you can take the idea to the local radio station and get them to host it for you. You and the sponsor will get more traffic than you’d likely get if you were hosting it on your own, because the station probably has a built-in audience that will see your posts. The station can also publicize your content and drive even more readers to you.
It’s certainly not going to make you independently wealthy overnight, but if you’re willing to put some work into it, you can make a little money, increase your exposure, experiment with new skills like video, audio and photography and have a little fun.
Ty Stockton produces a daily two-minute radio show for the Cowboy State News Network from his home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He began his journalism career in print media, knowing he had a face for radio, but a voice for newspaper.