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Jan 05, 2007

PR Interview: How to Be a Featured Guest on The David Lawrence Show and Online Tonight Radio Show

SUMMARY: 4.1 million listeners tune into The David Lawrence Show and Online Tonight radio show on a regular basis, and Host David Lawrence tells us he's looking for a few good guests. Find out how you can pitch him on appearing on the shows.
Contact information
David Lawrence
The David Lawrence Show, Online Tonight With David Lawrence

Media profile
- Reach: 4.1 million weekly listeners
- Frequency: The David Lawrence Show airs for three hours weeknights. Online Tonight airs Saturdays.
- Audience demographic: The audience consists primarily of adults ages 18-54 from the entire US and Canada. The shows air on satellite radio, both XM and Sirius, and are available in podcasts.
- David Lawrence's Personal Netcast Podcast, a free daily 10-minute podcast that deals with similar themes, is delivered via RSS after every live show.

Lawrence’s background
Lawrence has been involved in radio for more than 30 years: he has worked on the networks, for local stations and syndication. He has had jobs spinning records and hosting shows, and there’s nothing else he’d rather do, he says.

“I’ve always been of the opinion that if you simply do what you love to do best, the money will follow,” Lawrence says. “Like if you love doing ceramic cats best, do it. If you don’t do what you like, you’ll never make a living.”

Lawrence likes to talk. And along the way he has built quite a vocabulary. In the course of a half-hour interview, he uses words that you often read but rarely hear spoken (“aplomb,” “behoove” and “ameliorate,” to name a few).

Editorial coverage
The shows cover topics that affect our lives technologically as well as culturally. “We're about pop culture and high technology in that order,” Lawrence says.

He wants to know how people in the real world handle technology issues with aplomb. Topics might cover everything from spam to flaming to online sex.

“Everything is interesting to a tech person,” says Lawrence. “Even spam -- most people want to take a spammer out back and flog them, but tech people think it’s interesting.”

The shows' purpose is entertainment first, information second. There’s only one type of radio show and that’s a morning show, he claims, whether it runs at night or not. It’s “the same show, jingles and shtick and goofiness. That’s the way my show runs."

The shows air for 3 hours nightly, from 7 to 10 Pacific time, during which time he’ll interview people who are in the news or who do something that brings them to his radar screen from a cultural, social or technical viewpoint.

How to pitch
Email Lili von Schtupp, his producer, at lili(at)onlinetonight(dot)com. If she’s interested, she’ll ask for more information. Don’t call, fax or send snail mail.

In your email, tell her why your pitch is important to Lawrence’s audience: Why would he take an hour’s radio time and devote it to your company and what you do? For example: “If you start off by saying that the most frustrating thing about my audience is that their hard drives crash once a day, I’ll say, that’s interesting, how do you know that?” he says. “If you’re relevant to my audience and you know who my audience is, that’s half the battle.”

Spin your client on entertainment, information and morality. “If your guy is an expert on the Palestinian problem, there are hundreds of other stations to pitch before mine,” he says.

A word of advice: If Lili is interested, remember that she has said no to thousands of people before you. When she calls and says she’d like to book you (or your client), don’t make the mistake of saying, “Who are you again?”

“That’s like Willy Wonka handing you the chocolate bar,” says Lawrence. “Don’t hand it back to him.” Have a picture of yourself available to send, too, as they like to put an icon with your picture on it online. (“Just a little peccadillo of ours,” he says.)

The best thing to do, says Lawrence, is to get on his bad side on a subject. That’ll get you on his show, so he can hash it out with you.

Pet peeves
Here are some that really bug him:

1. Don’t pitch him if you don’t know squat about the show. “It behooves you to listen to last night’s show -- you can tell what the show is about in five minutes.” You can hear any show online at

Know the format, the length of the interview (about an hour) and the host’s style (goofy, off-the-cuff, more like David Letterman than The New York Times).

2. Don’t waste his time. People sometimes pitch him hard and then, when he’s interested in an interview, decide they don’t want to do it for one reason or another.

Find out before you pitch him if your client is willing to do a late-night phone call (all interviews are live), for instance. Or, if your client is in or will be in the Los Angeles area, in-studio interviews are preferred.

3. Don’t send an email that says, “Your READERS want to know.” It just shows that you’re sending the same pitch that you sent to newspapers or magazines. “Know your medium,” he says. “Understand that each medium has different requirements.”

4. Don’t pitch a “story” idea. “We don’t do stories, we do interviews,” Lawrence says.

5. Don’t send a press kit. If you send one cold, it goes right in the trash. One company has been sending him stuff for years, and he’s never opened one of them.

Where you can meet him
PR folks sometimes treat radio as a sort of ignored stepchild. Everyone knows whom to pitch on TV and in print media, but not with the radio world, Lawrence says.

So, while he says he's willing to go out to lunch or coffee with folks, “I don’t think there’s any PR person in the world that would do it,” he says.

And if you do get on the show
Here are some guidelines so as not to come across as a dummy:

1. Respond to questions in three or four sentences.

2. If the question isn’t great, don’t say it is. on the other hand, if it is a great question, the host loves to know he’s on the right track.

3. If it’s a controversial question, don’t try answering a different question -- he’ll just ask it again and keep boring in.

4. Don’t read answers from a paper.

5. Relax -- it’s a call with a goofy talk show host. “Just be the self you’d be on your first date, when you’re trying to put your best foot forward,” says Lawrence.

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