I’m an author of Contemporary Women’s Fiction. I’d also like to think I’m a somewhat savvy business woman. In fact, I write about somewhat savvy business women. So what better way to reach my customer base than through an organization with a name like “Women’s Radio Network”? Or so I thought…
On February 6, 2015, I received the following Direct Messages on Twitter: Thanks for the follow! Please let us know if you want to be a guest on one of our shows. I said sure. They responded: Great! Please fill out our online form http://www.wrnw1.com/go-air/ and mention code "SH-SM" in the "Where did you hear about us?" section.
I become curious and a little excited about the opportunity, so a few days later I click the link and have a look around. I hit the “Listen Live Now” button, and what I hear sounds very encouraging. The site also looks very professional, so I fill in the form.
Within the hour, I receive a call. A woman confirms the information that I’ve submitted and connects me to a producer. He again confirms my info and tells me I can choose either Thursday or Friday. (It’s Tuesday) A little freaked, I pick Friday. He tells me I’ll receive an email with a questionnaire attached and that I’ll be interviewed by Lisa Singer on “Open Forum”. He then assures me I’ll be called and completely prepped prior to the interview, so I’ll know exactly what to expect.
I download the form and carefully consider which information I should provide—the details readers might want to know about my novel and myself. Also attached to this email is the interview announcement with link. I post it liberally on my webpage and all my social media sites, and ask my friends and followers to share, post, pin, and retweet. I am an advertising fool!
Friday morning, I’ve heard nothing more from the station. I am getting anxious. I’ve never done a radio interview before and have no idea what to expect. Further, by this time, I’ve encouraged at least 5000 people to check out the show, and I sure don’t want to come off seeming unprofessional. I finally get the call. It lasts maybe 30 seconds. I do not feel prepped and assured.
A few minutes before my slotted time, the phone rings. The woman says she’s connecting me with DJ, Lisa Singer. Lisa comes on and we introduce ourselves. The next thing I know, someone says, “3,2,1, and we’re live.” Lisa and I do the interview. I feel pretty good about it once we’ve finished. I hop onto Facebook and do a cyber happy dance.
The DJ calls me about 10 minutes later and offers some useful, constructive criticism which I gladly accept. She says she’s checked out my website and recites a few snippets from it. I hang up thinking it was very nice of her to follow up, very above and beyond.
About 20 minutes later... I get a call from someone who identifies herself as a Producer. She is absolutely beside herself and tells me that every interview is rated, and based on overwhelming listener response, I got a 6.1, which she then informs me is off the charts. Moreover, they (?) took a vote and decided they want me to do another interview, but this time with K.C. Armstrong of Howard Stern fame. Plus, because of my performance, they want to promote me. I’m thrilled. It’s like I’ve just become a finalist on American Idol. Yes America, I’ve got talent! Publisher’s Clearing House is knocking on my front door right now!
This producer further extols my virtues, and then tells me what the Women’s Radio Network is prepared to do for me. My stellar interview will be replayed 10-15 times per day for the next 30 days. She says a lot of other wonderful sounding things in such rapid fire that I barely have time to write them all down. They have some sort of relationship with ABC and Beasley and CBS radio and I’ll be advertised with CNN, New York Times (I’m an author, so I’m all over that one!) and she rattles off a list of other important sounding and amazing stuff including press releases. She then invokes the holy names of Hillary Clinton and Oprah and says celebrities contact them all the time to be on the show—not because they need advertising, of course, but because it’s for women and they support what the Women’s Radio Network is all about. My head is swimming and I don’t have time to think straight because the woman is talking 90 miles per hour.
Then she uses the word “membership” and that they (again, I have no idea who “they” are) have unanimously voted to give me “professional status”. That’s when my Spider-sense kicks in. Memberships typically cost money, and “Professional status” sounds like a casino term. My gigantic balloon begins deflating, and I notice she’s becoming very repetitive. Also, “they” have taken several more votes. Is Simon involved? I suddenly realize I’m hearing quite a bit of chatter in the background, but when I inquire, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” is the general message I receive.
Then the bomb detonates: Advertising is super expensive on all these fabulous domains, of course. People pay tens of thousands of dollars for such widespread coverage. BUT because I am so amazing and wonderful and awe-inspiring and the second coming of Janus Joplin, they’ve taken a vote and decided to cover most of the cost. They offer me (3) 30-minute sessions with K.C. Armstrong, plus all the kinds of advertising vaguely mentioned before, all for the low, low price of only $3,000 US. I will even get a plaque. A plaque? Visions of Orlando timeshares stream before my eyes.
Whoa, that’s a lot of money, I say. She replies that for $1700 I can have a two-show package, or for $1,200, a one segment deal. Of course, I won’t’ get as much with only the one segment, but for just this one time, they’ll include all that. My timeshare vision is replaced by one of me staring at the car wash sign, trying to decide between the whale wash, the dolphin wash, or the minnow wash. I don’t immediately press any of the buttons, so she launches into the But wait! There’s more! Because of my rock star awesomeness, they’ll let me have the one show gig for only $1,000. I feel better already, and I didn’t even have to throw a fit and pretend to storm out of the car dealership showroom.
I ask for an email outlining the proposal so I can mull it over. This is radio and they don’t do that, she explains, but once my session is booked, I’ll get all of it in writing. Hmm...So once I pay you $1000, then you’ll send me an email? Fascinating.
She again repeats what’s become her mantra: Give the Women’s Radio Network 1% of your faith, and we’ll do the rest. I say I need time to think and I’ll have to call her back. She then informs me this is a pilot program and prices are subject to change.
After ending the call, I pull out my Google Ouija board and look up the Women’s Radio Network reviews. There’s very little information. What I do find is one glaring red flag: A Blog entitled, Spotlight Radio Scam, by Heather Goff. The link is provided below.
In her blog, Heather explains that she knew she’d interviewed horribly, with lots of ums and long gapes of silence, but soon afterwards, a “producer” called her, falling all over himself about how well she did and how she ranked a 6.7 and that she was made for radio, and yep—exactly what my producer said to me—except, that Heather is clearly a better public speaker than I, what with that 6.7 and all. I read the blog’s posted comments—same story right down the line.
Since Heather’s radio program was called “Spotlight” and she’d written her blog a year ago, I went back and listened to a couple of the recently archived segments of the Lisa Singer “Open Forum” show on WRNW1…and then I reached out. And guess what? The lovely videographer in Florida with whom I spoke got the whale wash, too. She expressed disappointment; not because she wasn’t the mega superstar she’d thought, but rather because her main goal in going on the show was to assist other women and to support a group willing to give free airtime to those hoping to grow their small businesses.
I thought about her altruistic intentions and realized that I could do something altruistic as well. I could speak up and share my experience; help others become better informed.
The positive side of my 8 minutes of fame: The initial interview itself cost me nothing, I got to experience live radio interviewing, and I know for a fact that I reached at least one person--thanks mom! I also learned a few valuable business lessons. And maybe…just maybe…I am a somewhat savvy business woman, after all.
I wish you the greatest success in your business endeavors, but please swim carefully. Sure, there are whales and dolphins and lots of minnows swimming in the ocean, but there are a few sharks as well.
~Virginia Gray, author of “The Carrot”
Heather Goff’s link:
*The previous information was relayed from my memory of approximately 24 hours post-event. Dollar amounts, specific details, and ranking numbers were taken directly from my personal handwritten notes during said phone conversations occurring on February 13, 2015.