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For many of today’s generation, the radio industry is full of mystery. We know about print, television, and social media, but radio has seemingly faded into the background. Working as an intern for MediaTracks Communications, I was pleasantly surprised to see just how large a role radio still plays in our society, particularly as a medium for raising awareness. Recently, I was given the chance to observe the recording studio in action during a few of MediaTracks’ Radio Media Tours (RMTs).
What is a Radio Media Tour?
Brand mentions come in many shapes and sizes, some of them even quite interesting and pleasant. A RMT provides an opportunity for an organization to reach a nationwide audience through a series of 10-15 minutes interviews between their spokesperson and multiple radio stations, all in the span of a few hours. While many of us have heard these brief informational segments on the radio during our commutes to work, I got to see the behind-the-scenes of how they’re made. There’s a lot of preparatory work that goes into bringing these tours to life, but I’d like to share my experience of the actual tour day of two Radio Media Tours, one with the YMCA-USA and one with Disney celebrity China Anne McClain.
The Day of the Tour
On the YMCA’s tour day, I walked into the studio door and was greeted by the MediaTracks staff and three representatives from the YMCA. While most RMTs are conducted over the phone with the spokesperson, the Y decided to send their spokesperson, Lindsay Mondick, into the studio, which made this tour day special. MediaTracks had provided a light breakfast of bagels, fruit, and coffee to keep everyone satisfied during the morning’s interviews. With the MediaTracks team and the YMCA’s two PR members in the control room and the spokesperson in the booth, a close, cozy, and yet professional environment was created. Mondick, Director of Aquatics for the YMCA, was clearly experienced with speaking on radio. She was already in the booth when I came in and handled every question presented to her calmly and articulately. She was prepared with statistics and information to explain during her 16 interviews that morning about the Y’s swimming safety program and the 33,000 scholarships for swimming lessons they were offering to underprivileged children. While Mondick handled the interviews in the booth, MediaTracks handled everything else. They had previously arranged and scheduled interviews with 16 radio stations across the nation. In between her jokes, Kim Sawyer, the tour’s producer, would call ahead to every station about 15 minutes in advance to make sure they were ready for Mondick’s interview. Then, Production Director Sean Waldron would connect the station to Mondick through the control board, and we could all listen in as they created the segment.
Overcoming last-minute challenges of a Radio Media Tour
Not everything went as smoothly as it sounds though. In the course of the day, we encountered stations that canceled, that were running late, that were completely unprepared, or that were experiencing technical difficulties. In one particular instance that will perhaps go down in MediaTracks’ RMT history, Kim assured us all of one very reliable station host, only to have the same host delay the interview by 15 minutes. Kim vowed never to speak of a host’s reliability again! The interview with China Anne McClain provided a different perspective on RMTs. It was conducted over the phone with McClain and her PR person listening in on the line. While it was a bit more impersonal, both sides of the connection were still friendly and professional. McClain chatted with her crew, while MediaTracks kept her up to date and connected her to the stream of interviews about her partnership with the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and Children’s Health Fund to provide dental care for children. Many of the same issues occurred this day, but MediaTracks again handled them smoothly and with humor. Sean had to do a bit more magic on the board though, as he juggled between several phone lines at once. Observing the way a radio company like MediaTracks works, within the studio and in partnering with different organizations across the country, was fascinating. Before, I hadn’t realized the amount of creativity and flexibility it takes to conduct an event like a Radio Media Tour, in order to produce the information we all listen to on our radios.
Jane Shulgan is the Social Media/Content Marketing Intern at MediaTracks. She is a recent graduate of Trinity International University, where she majored in English/Communication. She is hoping to work in the publishing industry in the future, editing children's literature. In her spare time, Jane enjoys reading, watercolor painting, and spending time with friends.