To be, or not to be a Net Radio Host

I never really considered becoming a talk radio host but when the opportunity was presented last week I was quite interested. Perhaps it really appealed to my vanity ;-)

I received a call informing me that my blog was considered to have material that would be appropriate for a radio show. I was asked if I would be interested in hosting a 13 week pilot program of Voice America’s business network. The producer said that a recent post where I had stated that, “my clients are all across Canada and my long-term strategy is to grow my network outside the country”, was what piqued his interest.

I fancied the idea of increasing my reach and trying out a new medium (though I have been involved in several podcasts). My main concerns were the amount of preparation time and the actual delivery of a good quality one-hour show each week. Each show averages about two hours prep time, I was told, so hosting a show would be a significant commitment; but it would be possible to pre-record a couple of shows. Unless I wanted to do all of the talking (boring), then I would also have to find interesting people to interview. Opportunities for co-marketing were discussed too.

I listened to some of the existing Voice America business radio shows and found some mediocre ones, but also good programs like Anita Campbell’s Small Business Trends Radio. Anita is quite positive about her Voice America radio hosting, which she does in addition to her Small Business Trends site and newsletter. Anita’s show has attracted sponsorship from Six Disciplines as well.

I couldn’t find out much else about the company, so I considered the pros and cons for a couple of days. About a week later, I was contacted to discuss the business details. During this second conversation, I was made aware of the “production, promotion, training, marketing, internal web-site development, archive hosting, personnel overhead and bandwidth expenses“, and that in order to ensure that hosts will stay committed, an up-front fee is required. This fee equated to the cost of hosting this blog – for twenty years.

In light of this fee-for-service, in addition to what I had already considered to be a significant work effort, I began to lose interest. However, Voice America in total has about seven times more readers than this website does. Therefore, I could have a chance to increase my audience; but how many of these would become paying clients?

What I sell are intangible and usually complex services, with a proposal submitted only after having spent a fair bit of time with my client. Could Voice America radio hosting for 13 weeks help me with this? I’m not sure. Furthermore, my clients are usually referred through my network, and some clients check out my website before contacting me. There are two years of my comments and perspectives on this website. Should I reinforce this archive with audio? Again, I’m not sure. Anyway, I decided to decline this service primarily due to the cost, but also because of an uncertain return on investment.

Further investigation into Modavox, the parent company, yields this information from the NASDAQ:

Modavox produces weekly talk radio content programs that are distributed 24/7 on the Internet through its flagship Voice America channel at WWW.VOICEAMERICA.COM. The company derives its revenues through production fees received from hosts featured on the talk radio content programs and recently sponsor fees received from sponsors of certain of these programs. Production fees are generally sold in 13-week segments and are generally prepaid. Sponsor fees are generally split with the host. The company has also developed an e-commerce technology that will now allow host and sponsors to sell products and services on their programs. In future periods the company expects to earn revenues through the use by hosts and sponsors of this e-commerce technology. The company has also recently begun to market its patented Metaphor technology on a platform that will allow business and specialty and affinity groups to communicate live and stored voice and video content to intended audiences over secure internet channels.

I think that this medium, live Internet radio, has advantages for certain types of businesses, especially those selling a product/service mix or for someone who has a good sponsor that matches the program. As an open source evangelist and a provider of technology evaluation services, I try to be vendor-neutral. This makes sponsorship a difficult issue, because I cannot endorse any single product to the exclusion of others. Perhaps sponsors would flock to my door, but I doubt it.

Select Your Comment Platform

44 Responses to “To be, or not to be a Net Radio Host”

  1. graham watt

    Hey, Harold, can I be Niles to your Frasier Crane?!

  2. Harold

    Graham: I’ve got the hair style (or lack thereof) for it. You’d have to come up with a sponsor first ;-)

  3. Lisa

    This posting was so helpful – I just got a voicemail from Voice America about hosting a show, and I’d never heard of them. Google pointed me to you. Now I’m still flattered at being called, but I also realize that I may just be a potential sale to them!

  4. Julie

    I got the call from Voice America on Friday, and a flood of follow-up emails and calls have ensued over the past few days. I was suspicious, but your advanced research armed me with exactly the information I needed, but could not otherwise access elsewhere.

    Someone wiser than I believes that podcasts make internet radio unnecessary–Broadcast 1.0 in an Internet 2.0 world.

    I really appreciate you sharing this. Great job!

  5. Christine Macguire

    Internet Streaming Media Broadcasting is the new interactive solution for emerging, and veteran media personalities to establish a powerful online presence to a rapidly expanding internet audience. Voice America is Modavox’s unique venture, pioneering the concept of Internet radio.
    VoiceAmerica has been streaming live internet talk radio shows via the VoiceAmericaâ„¢ Network, featuring more than 100 hosts broadcasting on four genre based channels. VoiceAmerica helps you to strike a new note in the fast-paced world of internet media by placing your message and brand identity front and center, far beyond simply “having a website”.

  6. Harold

    Christine:

    I’m allowing your comment, which in my mind is blatant advertising.

    In the same spirit, I will share with my readers a “free” internet radio service – Blog Talk Radio:
    http://www.blogtalkradio.com

    I am not affiliated with any of these services, nor do I use them.

  7. Karen

    I wish I’d read this great post BEFORE I called the guy back. What a con job! They don’t tell you about the fees up front. I’ve been invited to participate in real radio talk shows before, so I wasn’t all that suspicious even though I’d never heard of “Voice America.” I really appreciate your doing the research for me. Thanks again.

  8. Harold

    You’re welcome, Karen. I learn much from others on the Net and this is my small part in contributing to the “wisdom of crowds”.

  9. Gene Sower

    How about a podcasting service that not only records and syndicates your show for you — but they pay YOU!:

    http://www.talkshoe.com

    I’ve had a “show” for about a year. Cost me nothing. That’s my only affiliation with Talkshoe.

  10. Drew Baye

    I was also pointed here by google after a search for Voice America and appreciate your comments. A rep e-mailed me stating,

    “I am in the process of developing a new show for our Health & Wellness channel on our network. After reviewing your information, I am interested in speaking with you about the possibility of hosting a show on our network.”

    Although the implication is they’re looking to hire, the wording is suspicious, and I’ve had a local AM station contact me trying to sell airtime after I appeared on a show by another person who was paying for a time slot, so I thought this might be the case.

    It did get me interested in the idea though, so I appreciate the heads-up on blogtalkradio.

  11. Mark

    Yes – 3 years and still kicking – both your article and the company. Sure wish I could figure out the right keywords to find more articles about VA from other that VA generated link. We are one step away from walking away from an unsigned contract for the reasons you stated

  12. Jon

    I appreciate this blog, which I found by Googling “voiceamerica.com hosting.” I got “the call” from VoiceAmerica on Friday. I thought maybe they were looking for free content — which would have been quite an investment of time on my part. That they actually want people to pay is fairly astounding. The business model for legitimate media is to offer the best possible content in order to build their reputation and attract listeners. Can you imagine how quickly people would turn off a news program if they only interviewed people who paid to be on? A channel with paid hosts is just not going to attract listeners; most people would do better buying audio equipment at Radio Shack and creating their own “radio show” on their own website.

  13. Will

    I also got called by them today, and was very flattered and also slightly suspicious since I hadn’t done anything to put myself on their radar. A little Googling and here I am. I’m scheduled to talk with them tomorrow and I’m better prepared (and a little less flattered).

  14. DavidB

    As of today VA has called me three times in the past 18 mos. What they said on the phone sounded suspiciously similar to this:
    “I am in the process of developing a new show for our Health & Wellness channel on our network. After reviewing your information, I am interested in speaking with you about the possibility of hosting a show on our network.”

    Sounds great, right? Maybe it is for someone, but not a very small biz like mine facing their starting fees of $5,200 for 13 weeks.

  15. MarieD

    There is not much out there in terms of reviews on Voice America, so was glad to have found this blog and people’s comments.

    I wish prior hosts would give feedback on how it impacted their income (in a positive way), how difficult it was to get sponsors, etc.

  16. Lorraine Bockman

    Just had a call from VA and, like others, I was glad to find this post. The caller was very enthusiastic but not very forthcoming and, as others have mentioned, did not disclose the fees. Thank you so much for posting this information and allowing continuing comments.

  17. Kathleen

    So glad to find this thread. I just got “the call.” After I got over being flattered, I realized that I hung up without ever asking how they got my home telephone number–which isn’t on my blog or my business page. But the person I spoke to was very upfront about the costs, so I didn’t feel misled. He was knowledgeable about my area of expertise so he had at least glanced at my blog at some point. But there is no way I can afford to pay for my own radio show. He also mentioned me being a guest on someone else’s show, which is something I would be interested in so I will probably pursue that. There is VERY little on the internet about people’s experiences with VA, which is kind of odd since they are huge. I’m still wondering how they got my home number…..

  18. sue friedland

    VA is still calling as of today! We’ve had solicitations like this before. Thanks for letting me know about this particular company.

    Hasn’t the ability to publish and market your own podcasts through iTunes made companies like VoiceAmerica Radio obsolete? Who in their right mind would pay for the “privilege” of being on that network? I’d rather put $5K towards a good paid advertising campaign to market our own website!

  19. laura

    Hi, I know this is an older post but it is still very helpful!! Thanks for the information. It really helped.

  20. Tony Smith

    Thank you so much for this information. They called, I was interested and chatted with them today. All the same stuff and a whopping $6700 cost…

    I will for sure try the free radio options.

    Thank you and to all those who commented here as well…

    tony

  21. Vab

    Hey Thanks for this blog. I figured this was a sales call. I’m glad he told me to check out the website first. It did make me wonder how much it would cost. It seems like a good opportunity for those of us who are “vain” but I feel what you are saying is correct – you need to have a product that people can buy or a streamlined service, so unless you have that, you might be better off sticking with your current marketing plan. Maybe enhancing it a little. We are working on a couple of other ways to produce products and feel like video is more what people are moving towards anyway. Radio is always fun because you can listen to it while you do other things….but…being a guest on several shows might help you just as much.

  22. John Slothower

    I got a call from them the other day (sent to voicemail) and I decided not to return the call until I found some reviews. This was most helpful and I will not be be returning the call.

  23. Geo4star

    Sooooo glad I found your post Harold. I received a call today from Voice America, and I typically don’t answer out of country calls (I’m in Canada), but the guy left such an intriguing message that I called him back. Like many of the others here, I was flattered that my business services might be a consideration for a Radio Talk Show. I did ask how they found and chose me – I got a fairly reasonable answer but was still a bit skeptic. Additionally, I asked about the ‘investment’ since this guy wasn’t offering up any info and it all sounded just a little too good to be true, and was a bit shocked to find out that they want $6700 USD up front. YIKES! They want me to pay them??? Still, I thought, if this company is all it’s cracked up to be … maybe. Ahhhh, but then I found what I was looking for – this blog. I needed a dose of reality, and you all have provided it for me. Thanks for bringing me back to earth folks.

  24. Joss Conlon

    Ditto pretty much everything everyone above me has said. Even all these years after this blog post was created, this is the most helpful information I’ve found regarding this flattering-at-first “opportunity” that would have wound up being a colossal waste of time (albeit with a short-lived ego boost) had I decided to call them back.

    Which I am not.

    Thanks also to the comment-leaving folks who gave recent experiences and numbers. For $6700, I can handle my own online radio presence.

  25. Michelle

    Am preparing for a follow up phone appt with senior executive producer from voiceamerica this afternoon, after brief conversation between clients at work yesterday (offering up of 13 week, pilot radio show). Yes, the ego ride was fun for a very short while, but I decided to try and do some independent research apart from their website and am glad I found this and another blogger’s unbiased information. I did inquire about getting paid in a brief conversation yesterday and was told there is no financial compensation, but free advertising for my business…I was starting to have 2nd thoughts about the whole thing and find this information very helpful. I am not in a position to invest this kind of money for my new business or passionate subject matter. It will be interesting to see if the producer brings that up or if I will need to. But, regardless, I am glad to not waste any more time coming up with show propossal….before finding out in small print on a contract that I need to pay them. I will go old fashioned route and hand out business cards, start small website and continue my published writing on my passion, while keeping my paid, secure job…. For some with a larger budget, items to sell, and advertisers in tow, it may be a worthwhile investment, so this open forum is very helpful. Thank you for keeping this blog up, continues to be very helpful to community and I am most grateful.

  26. Cathy Goodwin

    Thanks for this post. I just got a call from someone asking me about being a talk show host on VoiceAmerica. When I asked point blank about fees and investment, the person hedged. That’s usually a danger signal.

    If VoiceAmerica were such a wonderful platform, they wouldn’t be out beating the bushes for prospects. And even though they may expose you to a larger audience than a blog it’s ultimately about your topic and your appeal as a host.

    For the $6700 that someone mentioned above, you can get a great website, some top PR services and a whole lot more!

  27. Leila

    I’d also like to thank you for sharing your experience with VoiceAmerica.com. I just got a voicemail from them as well and was flattered at first but then had to wonder how they found me and what exactly they’d want from me. Sad to have to be so suspicious of peoples’ motives in this day and age.

    Thanks again!

  28. JFK

    Post yoga class show was all I ever wanted. These guys preyed on my dreams, lead me through all the bologna only to cause turmoil in the end. Learning why some people are so blunt with sales people. Shake all the sales people down first before they waste your time and try and blow your dreams up in smoke. Can America actually just hire people for a good job.

  29. Wanina Petlock

    Thank you so much for writing your article Harold. You’ve saved me many wasted hours wondering if I should take this opportunity or not. It’s NOT, for the record. The only opportunity here is for VA. I’ve been a guest on many live podcasts and was expecting something much different than what they are offering. You see, that’s just the thing. They don’t explain “everything” their offering…like the fact that you are going to pay them. They’ve got everything backwards. They should be paying their hosts, not the other way around.
    And thank you all, who let us know how much they would try to extract from us. Appreciated.

  30. Michelle Kane

    I’d like to add my thanks as well. I was contacted a few months ago and when it comes down to it, $6700 is a lot for a solopreneur like me with obligations and a still-getting-started business. It has sparked an incentive to just do it on my own via podcast or something similar – why not, right?

  31. Pamela Rumi

    I received a call from VoiceAmerica approximately 3 days ago. The call started with a young man telling me I had been selected by executive producer [name deleted by Admin] to host a 13 week radio show. Of course I was intrigued. He ask if I had time to speak with [The Producer] and I said yes. [The Producer] ask me about my business and could I put together an outline for his board to review and again replied yes. [The Producer] also mentioned the cost was $500 per show times 13 shows = $6500 and needed to be paid upfront. I did the outline and emailed it to him the next day as he requested. Today is Friday morning in California an I’m waiting for an answer today to find of if my show will be approved. I think we all know the answer.

    I woke up this morning feeling like I needed to do more research about the company called VoiceAmerica and that’s when I came across your blog.

    Thanks again!
    Pam Rumi

  32. Brenda W

    [The Producer] also contacted me tonight saying all the same things reported above. Great ego boost but like others I became skeptical. So glad I came across your blog before I talked to him tomorrow.

  33. Robert Weiner

    Thank you for the post. It’s still valuable 7 years later. I just got a message from VoiceAmerica and am now armed for a conversation. (Like you, I have a niche consulting business and am vendor agnostic. Most of my clients come from referrals. I have no products to sell and don’t accept sponsorships from vendors.)

  34. Shannon

    I am honored to now be a part of this club! Thank goodness you wrote this blog post years ago. The products I sell are for teachers, and at $10 an ebook I would have to sell quite a few to break even!

  35. Lynn

    I’ve been on a gazillion internet radio shows since my book was published. I get offers to be a host from all the networks and for all the above reasons say no. Just from being a guest on many different shows, I can’t say I’ve seen a big uptick in my business or web traffic from them. It kind of leaves me wondering if anyone is actually listening to all these many many shows. It’s nearly impossible to get call-ins. Of all the networks that have approached me AV is the priciest. Others have cited fees more in the $200 a show range. AV told me $500. If anyone wants to test the waters to see if something like this would serve your business, you might want to offer yourself as a guest on existing shows. Many hosts are always looking for guests. You may be able to get a show a week, each show having a different audience, all for free.

  36. john

    Thanks for the info NY wife’s been contacted several times with a robot like sales pitch. I’m guessing that her website must be working if these places found her

  37. Beth

    It’s now 2014 and I just got “the call”. Amazing that this company still exists and operates so consistently over time. The name “VoiceAmerica” suggests scam because it is so close to “Voice of America”, which the search engines so helpfully suggest when you attempt to research the company. Reminds me of another scam company called “THE”. Try researching that company through the Internet! Thank you, Harold!

  38. Jeff

    I got a call out of the blue today, went to voice mail, and I did some poking around before getting back to them. It sounds like the radio equivalent of “vanity publishing” – which I suppose could be monetized, but it sounded fishy, and what you’ve said confirms my suspicions. Thanks for the post!

  39. James

    Harold,
    Thank you for taking time to provide your analysis of the VA “opportunity”. With one-consultant practice in central Canada, I was surprised to receive the call from VA. Flattered, but skeptical enough to seek the opinions of others. Glad yours was there.

  40. Sarah Lawrence Hinson

    Thanks so much for this blog article. As of end April 2014 VoiceAmerica is still offering it’s services. Perhaps my SEO plugin is working really well now! All ‘hosted’ shows usually require a fee, as does BlogTalkRadio.

    Read in the Dawn of the Akashic Age by Ernzt Lazlo that more information has been created on the internet from 2000-2013 than has been created and recorded in the history of mankind to date. I can believe it! It’s a wonderful thing to be in this technological age…another thing to make sense of it.

    As for me, this article confirmed my gut feel about the phone call I had from VoiceAmerica. I have just started Podcasting on iTunes (with a little savvy, a free plugin and a hosted website, anyone can do pretty much for free!).

    And that’s the direction I shall continue to head in.

    Thanks again for the post!

    Sarah
    A Mom On A Spiritual Journey

  41. Judith

    Got the call. We’ve emailed back & forth and I finally chatted with the associate producer. He was totally evasive about the money. i agreed to speak with a producer – but I really don’t need a sales pitch. I’m going to email him back and say I’ve changed my mind.
    Thanks for all your input, everyone!