It's five minutes to airtime and Marty McDermott is in his home office in Williams Township, Pennsylvania; his cohost, Don Johnson, is holed up in his office at Diamond Financial Services in West Keansburg, New Jersey, with the door closed and instructions not to disturb him for an hour; their producer is in the studio in San Diego and their guest of the day is —wherever.
Ahhh, the beauty of Internet radio: No one has to travel to be in the same room, and yet when listeners log on to listen to the live broadcasts or the archives, it sounds like good friends talking across the table.
“It's the reason we started the show,” McDermott, a business professor at Kaplan University, says. “We're sold on the concept of Internet radio's no geographic boundaries.”
The show, which started as a newsletter on franchising, evolved into its broadcast version once McDermott discovered Internet radio. In the 40-plus shows the duo has completed, they've had relatively few glitches. Once, for unknown reasons, everyone on the line was disconnected—leaving dead air in its wake. “Don and I had to call back into our own show,” McDermott says.
Another time a guest tried to get away from his barking dog, only to retreat to his car in the garage, which made him sound like he was in a wind tunnel.
Ahhh, but once again, the beauty of Internet radio is that any mishaps can be edited out for the archives. And even though the show airs from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST every Thursday, 80 percent of the listeners choose to listen to the archives on their own time. And better yet, whenever they're sold, commercials can be added to the archived shows, Johnson points out.
Franchise Interviews—which is a featured show on World Talk Radio—is pro-franchising, which is in keeping with both their backgrounds. McDermott has a post-MBA in entrepreneurial studies and has worked with franchise Web sites and Johnson is president of Diamond Financial Services, which specializes in SBA lending. The two became friends when McDermott worked on the FranchiseAmerica Web site, and Johnson was an advertiser. They hit it off and when an opportunity presented itself, the two—who admit they were novices in radio when they first started out—decided to take their expertise in the field to the airwaves.
Guests have included attorneys, authors, franchisors, lenders, real estate experts and franchisees. The folks behind PB Loco, a peanut butter retail and restaurant franchise, were their first guests. Other guests have been Scott Haner, vice president of development for Yum Brands; Michael Gerber, author of the “E-Myth” franchise; Bill Gabbard, CEO of Jungle Quest; Terry Corkery, president of FranchiseWorks.com; and John Hewitt, CEO of Liberty Tax Service and the former CEO of Jackson Hewitt.
On their guest wishlist are Fred DeLuca, founder of Subway, and Tony Martino of AAMCO, who Johnson calls a “franchise legend.”
Their marketing plan is simple, McDermott jokes: “When they're (guests) on the show we ask them to tell everyone and their mother they're on the show..to send out e-mail blasts, call prospects (who might be interested)….”
The 60-minute show is divided into three segments. “The first segment is my favorite,” Johnson says. “We discuss news and information…small talk, franchise news, future shows, stats.” Next comes the interview with a guest or guests and then the wrap-up.
McDermott came up with the idea to send the guests a list of questions and to assign them to a specific person. “So we'll know who we're talking to if we have multiple guests,” McDermott says. Johnson adds that he and McDermott also have to be cognizant of each other's role as questioners so they don't step on each other's lines. “We talk during the commercials,” he says. The show's producer sends McDermott cues—such as when to cut to commercials—through e-mails while they're on the air.
The cohosts say they would never invite a biz op representative on the show and they don't take callers. “Because you never know who's on the other line,” McDermott explains, “it could be a competitor.”
A common theme of the show is that franchising isn't for everyone, McDermott says. And that franchising is “hard work,” Johnson adds. “You have to build a business.”
Currently the show has an audience of about 10,000 and nine sponsors. The costs are low, Johnson says, and the show is now profitable, although the two hosts aren't close to being able to quit their day jobs.
They do have big plans, however. “We want to be known as the leading national franchise show,” Johnson says. They also have a goal of 30,000 listeners, syndication down the road and possibly building a franchise channel on the World Talk Radio with niche programming. A short-term goal is to broadcast live from one of the franchise expos.
On the air, the two may have complimentary styles, but once the show is over, they differ.
“Marty likes to listen to the shows again, but I don't go back, I'm too critical (of myself),” Johnson says. But then again, McDermott has the more stressful job, Johnson concedes, since he's responsible for the pace of the show and having enough questions to fill the allotted time, plus monitoring the producer's cues. “Marty sometimes has to shower after the show, it's (that) stressful,” Johnson says.
Johnson, on the other hand, just opens his door when the show is over and continues running his finance company.