How to Successfully Pitch A Radio Show

I’ve written about how to successfully pitch TV shows now it’s time to listen to something a little different since there aren’t any pictures involved. But just because the concept is sound-driven doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read this because many of the concepts in this blog article are going to be applicable to television pitches too (it’s all common sense really).

Public radio, such as CBC Radio, here in Canada, is unique in that they actively encourage pitches for radio ideas. Personally, there isn’t enough drama programming these days, and I would love to see a change in this area. But regardless of format, this program development pitch guide should help get you on your way … or at least get you a shot at pitching a radio show to CBC Radio.

What do program development groups look for?

New radio shows; limited run series; segments for ongoing programs. They also look for potential – not only in ideas, but also in people. They want to find the writers, hosts and producers of tomorrow. They want to develop a contingent of creative people, from all regions of the country, who have the confidence and ability to create new shows.

Before you send CBC your pitch, here are a few things to remember:

-CBC is committed to developing predominantly Canadian shows, producers and hosts.
-CBC Radio receives hundreds of proposals every year and only a very few are selected for development.
-Submissions are usually processed within three (3) months.

The Idea
Your proposal doesn’t need to be long and complicated, but it should be well thought out. Make sure you’ve taken the time to dream it, debate it, mull it and polish it before you send it to CBC.

To help you get your idea down on paper, here are some questions you should ask yourself.

1. When you tell others about your dream radio show, what excites them the most? This is often a good way to start your pitch

2. How would you describe your show’s attitude toward its content? Will it be light-hearted or more serious? Cheeky or respectful? Entertaining or informative? Probing or reflective? Is there anything new or different about how your show will sound?

3. Who is the host? Do you have someone in mind? If not, what qualities would your ideal host possess? What should they sound like? What’s his or her role on the show? Does he or she have a strong point of view?

4. What will we hear on a typical program? A list of segment ideas or interview guests is a good start, but it’s not enough. Help us
imagine what we’ll hear coming out of the radio. How will your show’s tone and attitude affect the content?

5. What is the online component? What opportunities do you imagine for the web and social networking? Does it make sense for your concept be expanded for multiple platforms? At CBC our shows drive people to our website … can you tell us how your show will do that?

6. What makes your show perfect for CBC rather than another broadcaster? Why should it air now? Does it take CBC Radio somewhere new? Does it do something that we aren’t already doing? Does it fit our values as a public broadcaster (high quality, distinctive programming that’s intelligent, insightful and entertaining)?

7. What format do you see your idea taking? Is it a one-shot deal, a limited series, a feature within another show, a summer replacement series, a full run show? Is it a half hour or an hour?

The Checklist

Once you’ve worked through your idea, here’s a quick checklist of other things you should include in your proposal:

1. Who You Are: Tell us why you’re the best person to do this show. If you’ve hosted, produced or written for radio before, let us know. Also: what led you to your idea? Give us a sense of your background, your passions.

2. Who is Who: If you’ve got people you want to work with, tell us who they are. Who’s producing? Who’s hosting? Assume we don’t know these people. Give us an idea why they’re the best people for those roles.

3. The Proposal: Do the tone and style of the writing in your proposal reflect the tone of show that you’re proposing?

4. Reach Beyond CBC: Do you have plans for using social media or other tools to attract audiences to your site, beyond those who already come to CBC Radio or

5. Support: What kind of support do you need? Mentoring? Coaching on your performance? In-studio training? Digital audio editing? Don’t be embarrassed – we’re here to help and the more we know upfront the better.

6. Online Support: Radio production teams are expected to maintain the websites for their shows. Do you or any of your team members have digital production experience? Does your idea require a resource with specialized / advanced web skills?

7. Timing: Is your proposal time-sensitive? Are there times when you can work on this, times when you cannot?

8. How to Get Hold of You: Don’t forget to include your e-mail, home phone, cell phone, etc.

Proposals will be evaluated against the following criteria:
1. How original is the concept? If your show brings something new to CBC Radio, and if it is creative or innovative in its approach and treatment, then you’ve cleared an important hurdle.
2. Does the show have a personality? If your program has a distinct personality and tone – and if it has a host with a distinct and engaging personality – the pitch might move to the top of the pile. On the topic of hosts, you need to show a clear connection between the host and the content.
3. Is the proposal coherent? Is your pitch grammatical? Does it make sense? Read it over before you send it in. Remember: you want the program development committee to be able to “hear” your show. And your program should come across as more than a bunch of segments strung together.
4. Will it connect with a broad audience? How is your concept relevant to a target audience? What’s in it for that audience – why will they bother to listen?
5. Does the show have a strong identity? Ask yourself, why would a particular item be heard on this show? What can the audience expect to hear from this show?
6. Does the show contain diversity? Can’t put a fine enough point on this one. Reflecting Canada’s diversity is hugely important for the CBC. Diversity of region, opinion, ethnicity, economic class, age and gender. Show proposals that are diverse and regionally reflective are a priority.
7. Will your show help develop people? We want to discover great talent and put it to work. If you can introduce the CBC to new people and ideas, then that’s a point in your favour.
8. Does this show have the potential for “magic”? Will your show cause delight, ignite laughter, or inspire deep thought? Will it hold listeners captive in their cars in the Canadian Tire parking lot? With radio, that’s always the goal.


About Jill Atkinson

From concepts and smart headlines to original content and transmedia storytelling, to television pitch materials, directors treatments, long format writing, blogs and web copy with SEO, I write it all. I'm a writer, copywriter, and a content writer. My job is to help you say it better with ideas and language that get noticed. With copy and content that engages customers and audiences and ideas that make a connection with them. Ideas that generate a response. Materials that can sell a pitch. When you work with me you're working with the big boys: Maclaren, BBDO, Taxi, Sharpe Blackmore and also a great bunch of mid-sized agencies, b2b shops, a national television network (CBC), 15 specialty channels (History Channel, National Geographic, Showcase, Action, IFC, BBC Canada, + many more) and start ups who have taught me everything I know about how to get you noticed, remembered and sold. Or clicked. Or talked about. There are lots of ways to try to sell your products or to sell people on your offer or to engage them in your content and your show. But there is only one way to get it done right and on strategy. My experience is a foot in the door for your brand or your television idea . And no matter the size of your project, my commitment and attention to detail remain the same, big or small and always on deadline. Great conversations have to start somewhere. Give me a call or shoot me an email Check out my work at
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One Response to How to Successfully Pitch A Radio Show

  1. Reblogged this on SunNHope and commented:
    Pitching the perfect radio show

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