John Tesh Celebrates Ten Years on Radio
John Tesh has been entertaining fans on the radio for a little over a decade now. He started out with a weekend show and two years in expanded to six days a week. Tesh is one of our featured stars in our upcoming syndication issue set for release on August 27th. In that issue, we learned just how difficult it is to become syndicated, what it takes to push out compelling content every day to a national audience and what some people will do to become the next big name on the radio. For Tesh, he did it himself, with co-executive producers Betsy Chase & Scotty Meyers by his side, when Westwood One fired him."
RI: How difficult was it to get your show syndicated?
Tesh: You’re talking to the guy who couldn't get a record deal in the 1985, so I sold cassettes out of my garage. You are also talking to the guy who got canceled by Westwood One. We had 15 stations on Westwood. They said "This is too expensive. our audience isn't interested in this." I called up Scott Meyers in NYC and said "You are my affiliates relations guy." He said, "What the hell is that?" I said "Just call up stations and tell them this is an amazing show and I’ll get on the phone with you." We were a success three years in without having any major markets without having Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco or New York City. We built it in Westchester, Stamford, Long Island and Ventura County. You can do that. People are people.
RI: How challenging is it for you to have compelling content for every single show?
Tesh: It is challenging, but we've got it down to a science now. Our mantra is always; if it doesn't cause a difference in your life, if it doesn't move you forward in your life, if it doesn't cause you to make a difference in someone else's life, then we won't put it on the radio. So, there is no celebrity gossip. If people can't describe what they've heard in 2 sentences, then we won't put it on the air. It is very much like a network news operation where stories are pitched and curated and continually vetted to make sure they will work. There's no real "let's chat for a minute." We don't do that.
RI: How are you staying engaged with listeners to keep them coming back to the show?
Tesh: Our culture is we really do live that "Intelligence for Your Life" thing. You will find people in our office just coming back from the gym, exercising, eating right. We have Free Food Friday's, which is healthy food. We try to engineer that whole brand of Intelligence for your Life. What we try to do is... I am an old friend and a big fan of Oprah. I have called us Oprah on the radio. We've really tried to establish a show that is not just a radio show, but hopefully a lifestyle. We take that out on the road. We do 45-50 concerts a year. We reach between 180-200K people a year. It's not just music concerts, it's talking about Intelligence for Life, telling stories about family, how to live your life a whole lot better, how to find purpose. We partner up with our local radio stations and put the Porsche dealer in the front row and the local Spa dealer in the third row. We really do try to engage with people and do, everywhere we can. I am also a huge Dave Ramsey fan and watched his model over the years, and we behave like his.
RI: Talk about your relationship with advertisers and how you make that work.
Tesh: I have to thank Dial Global, who sells our spots in New York. They have really helped us with things like copy splitting and superserving advertisers. 4 or 5 times a year I go out to Chicago and New York and meet with advertisers whether it's OnStar or Kohl's or Prevagen. We discuss how they want to be presented so it's not just interruption marketing. People really want creative ways to present their brand or their products. With us, because of what we do, we are able to do sleep intelligence in the middle of our program and then put that in there. We have done foot intelligence for Odor Eaters, or brain intelligence for Prevagen. Finding unique, creative and editorial ways to integrate the advertisers has been a stop gap for any erosion we would have in the advertising space.
Tesh: I have a speech of Martin Luther King Jr. always playing in my head. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step in faith. I think too many of us think scalability first, and then think content second. It's figuring out what people want. It is pretty easy to figure out when you go on Facebook and see what people are conversing about. Find something that is not a commodity. Music is becoming a commodity for obvious reasons. News is becoming a commodity. Looks at CNN's ratings. They are horrible right now. Things like sports is not a commodity because it's live, it's exciting, and it changes all the time. Inspiration will never be a commodity, because we need it everyday. If you can find something that is inspiring, and something that has mission and purpose, you will find a tribe that will move with you. It's like a foundation, you build that first, and think only about how am I going to be helping people, it's amazing how fast that can aggregate and build.
For more information about John Tesh' radio show, contact Scott Meyers who is the Executive Producer of the John Tesh Radio show at Scott@MeyersMedia.com. To order Radio Ink for more advice and insight on syndication, call 561-655-8778 or go HERE
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