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Internet talk radio hosts build new business pipeline
By Jim Kendall | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 3/18/2010 12:00 AM

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Naperville entrepreneur Leo Wisniewski picks up the phone every Tuesday a bit before noon, connects with the Contact Talk Radio production staff in Bellevue, WA, and settles in as co-host of "Livin' the Dream," an Internet talk radio program.

Peggy Smedley does much the same thing, though her Carol Stream business, Specialty Publishing Co., has more sophisticated equipment. Still, Smedley simply connects with wsRadio.com, in San Diego, and launches her weekly "Peggy Smedley Show" - coincidentally also at noon on Tuesdays.

Both are among a growing number of business owners nationwide who have latched onto Internet radio as a relatively low cost way to market to targeted audiences.

Business owners use Internet talk radio "to separate themselves from their competition," says Chris Murch, president of wsRadio.com.

"They can establish themselves as an expert in their field by, for example, interviewing thought leaders on a regular basis (on their programs)," Murch says.

Two questions come to mind: Does anyone listen to online radio? What's the cost?

Murch says 5,000 to 10,000 listeners per month are pretty typical for wsRadio.com shows. Wisniewski estimates 3,000 to 5,000 listeners a week for "Livin' the Dream" with "200 or 300 hits a month" on the show's Web site. Internet talk radio, he says, is "the front end of the new business pipeline."

For Smedley, Internet radio "is the way to get to a lot of people quickly. There are more and more people who tell me they listen to my show."

Smedley's market is the tech-savvy connected devices world, users and developers of everything from GPS navigation tools to e-readers and home security systems. Her company owns a nascent technology network on wsRadio.com and plans to introduce a print magazine aimed at connected consumers this summer.

"Livin' the Dream" dispenses information and advice for business owners. There are three co-hosts: Wisniewski, who owns five local Great Clips salons, is a distributor for Send Out Cards and a consultant for The Entrepreneur's Source, a franchise advisory group; Lauren Milligan, head of Warrenville-based ResuMAYDAY; and Jeff Bishop, a Duct Tape Marketing coach in Naperville.

Of course, there's more to hosting an Internet radio program than simply phoning the studio at the right time. Topics must be researched, for example, and guests found and scheduled. Production details aren't much of a problem, however; they're typically handled by professionals.

wsRadio provides "turnkey production support," says Murch. "Five minutes before the show goes on you push a button that connects to our studio in San Diego. We stream your program live. We create the intros and 'outros' (that add a professional sound). We do podcasts. We archive the show for listening on demand."

The cost for the tech support varies, Murch says, from $250 to $500 per program hour.

Questions, comments to Jim Kendall, JKendall@121MarketingResources.com.

© 2010 121 Marketing Resources, Inc.