It was great to welcome talkRADIO and Times Radio showbiz guru, Johnny Seifert, as guest speaker for our latest Small Talk event. Johnny wears a lot of hats – not only is he the Showbiz Editor for talkRADIO and the Entertainment Producer for Times Radio but he produces a couple of shows on talkRADIO on Saturdays too. As if he needs more to fill his day, he also produces and presents his own podcast, called “Secure the Insecure”.
Two birds with one stone
Both talk and Times Radio are part of the Wireless group, owned by Murdoch’s News UK. Part of Johnny’s remit is to make sure that any showbiz stories find their way to the most suitable programmes across both of them. That said, talkRADIO and Times Radio are not competing against each other; instead they each offer something a bit different. Times Radio is linked to the Times Newspaper, and the hope is that radio will drive listeners to the paper. The tone and content is therefore aimed at an ABC1 audience. Arguably presenters on Times Radio have a less combative interviewing style than their colleagues at talkRADIO. The latter, he says, is more akin to a programme like ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Johnny as the gatekeeper for showbiz stories across both stations is a plus point for PR. As long as he deems the guest and story suitable, he can ensure a schedule works. Most guests he says work for both. Virgin Radio and talkSPORT are also part of the Wireless Group, so IF the name is big enough you could potentially secure 4 national stations through him.
Which guests does he favour?
He’s pretty open minded really and all for diversity. Age, for example, does not go against them, as it might on other broadcasters. They just need to be a household name. Johnny confesses to a great love of reality shows although in his opinion there comes a point with all reality programmes when they’ve just been going too long. So participants of Love Island and TOWIE for instance may now be less attractive to him.
If the name is big enough it almost doesn’t matter what the story is. Let him know who the celebrity is in advance. There’s no set time: three weeks, months or a year ahead, he’ll still book them in. The details about the story, especially if it’s a research story, can follow much nearer to the day.
No means no
As you’d imagine, Johnny’s inbox is chocker – there are 300 emails a day just to him. But he reads them all. So, don’t keep chasing – if he’s said no then he’s not going to change his mind because he’s being harangued. He gets our stress but it’s not going to make a difference once he’s made a decision.
Like any broadcaster, talk and Times Radio both enjoy an exclusive, but this isn’t a necessity. Good stories, good interviewees are more important factors. And it’s good to know that he enjoys a good research survey!
Expert comment also works for the Wireless Group, meaning spokespeople who can comment on the news agenda of the day. Time is of the issue for these sorts of interviews – Johnny and his colleagues would like to hear from experts whenever a story breaks, be it day or night. There are also some on-going topics the broadcasters are interested in, particularly ones associated with the pandemic, such as mental health and loneliness.
It’s refreshing to heat that the policy at talk and Times Radio is that in return for a great guest you’re most likely to get three plugs for your associated brand. This will probably be at the beginning, middle and end of the interview. In return it’s expected that the celebrity will talk about other things they’re involved in too. Fair enough!
Both stations prefer to conduct live interviews, but if logistics prevent this and they want the guest sufficiently they will pre-record on occasion. Post-pandemic, Johnny says they’d like guests back into their studios, but he feels the old way of doing a radio day, via ISDN, is gone. Skype, he says, is preferable to ISDN because of the visual element and both Times and talkRADIO live stream their interviews. It would feel like a backward step for guests to be in a remote studio with an ISDN as the visual element would be lacking.
For more about how we secure coverage for clients on all national radio and TV stations, have a look at some of our case studies. https://shoutcommunications.co.uk/our-work/
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