Spotlite Radio Scam?

Several weeks ago my phone rang and it was a representative of Spotlite Radio. Apparently they had found my website and wanted to interview me about my business on their radio station. It would be for 8 minutes, a producer would call me ahead of time to go over the questions. It sounded like it might be a good experience, and it was free, so I said yes.

heather-on-phoneI am not good at public speaking, or at articulating on the fly. I was a little bit worried because I knew that my radio spot was likely to be filled with long pauses and too many UMMS. Sure enough, when the time arrived, and the announcer started asking questions,
it. was. horrible.
There were gaping silences, unfocused responses and it was, over all, very very awkward. It was with great relief that I hung up the phone 8 minutes later and decided to drive to the post office to clear my head before getting back to work.

It hadn’t been five minutes when my cell phone rang. It was a “producer” from Spot lite radio, (although there was a quiet hum of other voices talking into phones in the background, similar to those calls we get soliciting donations to support the local police or sherif’s office). I am going to paraphrase what he said to me, after insisting that I pull over to listen to him and take notes.

“Do you have a background in radio? You were fantastic. Usually our speakers have rankings (between 1 and 10),  averaging around 3.1, 3.2 – however, your rankings were around 6.7. It was an amazing response from our listeners. People are calling in and asking “Why didn’t we give her more time”. They want to hear more. We have dozens of calls already asking for your contact information. The response has been so great that we want to offer you three 1/2 hour feature slots”… and he lists everything that they do to promote the featured interviews, the great exposure etc.. for only $1,500.

Now, I appreciate more than most people the importance of exposing your business over multiple platforms. I think doing a radio spot, having a YouTube video made of it, getting a press release in major publications is a very good thing, and I might have considered it if he hadn’t been so obviously lying to me. He was so over the top in his praise of the interview that, I knew, had completely bombed, that it made everything he was promising me suspect, and he kept pushing me to agree to a package before I hung up the phone. He had gone down to one half hour slot for $400 when I convinced him that I wasn’t going to decide right that minute, sitting in Reliable Market’s parking lot in my car.

I felt a little bit let down that the whole thing had been a scam. They hadn’t seen me as a leader in my field, being in business doing website design and programming for 17 years. They saw me as a gullible small business owner who may be desperate to do anything to drive more traffic to my website. The next day I went to their website to see if my interview had been posted. I listened to about 2 minutes of the awkward gaps between my responses and the interviewer’s questions, to my stilted and unfocused answers and had to click the pause button. It was truly as bad as I remembered. There was no way that anyone would want to listen to 1/2 hour of that.

The thing is, if someone had called me after the interview and said, “how did you feel about that? It was a little rough around the edges but with coaching, it could be a great tool for promoting your business, here is how..” I might have listened and actually considered it. However, to tell me I was a star performer in order to sell me $1500 worth of advertising when I knew that the interview was a disaster, put the legitimacy of their whole business in question.

The interview was a good experience. The next time I sign up for one, I am going to definitely get the real list of questions before hand and I’m going to practice. I want my answers to be useful information and interesting to listeners, and, if the radio spot costs money, I am going to thoroughly research the station before hand and make sure it is one that people and most especially my clients, are actually listening to.

So, I guess what I want to communicate is that if someone approaches you with a sales pitch riddled with what they think you want to hear instead of the truth, be careful. And if you are in sales and pitching a radio spot to me, don’t lie.  I wouldn’t be successful in my business if I wasn’t able to look at my work with constructive criticism in order to improve it, and the same goes for my public speaking.

Link to my interview here: spotlightradio

 

66 thoughts on “Spotlite Radio Scam?

  1. jan pogue

    Thanks for posting this, Heather. We probably all need the several reminders you gave us here: that we need to think about how best to promote our small businesses; that we need to figure out how to evaluate and practice for those opportunities; and that there are scam artists everywhere. I went through a similar thing with the National Association of Business Women. They stroke your ego, then try to hit your pocket book.

  2. Rachel

    Unfortunately I had the exact same experience. What was I thinking that there wouldn’t be a catch to “free” radio time aka marketing? Duh.

    My interview was actually pretty good, I will admit. The interviewer was phenomenal and I didn’t say but a few “um’s”. It went smooth. However, when the “producer” called back he made it sound like he was going to pay ME $10,000 to do 4 shows because I was SO AMAZING. I was like oooook…. Then he all of a sudden turned it around and said, “Ok where’s your credit card?”

    Me pay you $10,000? Yeah right buddy.

  3. Gary Olander

    I read you blog and wanted to tell you I had almost the exact same experience with Spotlite Radio. The call after wording was the same, almost the exact same percentages. At the end of the call the sales rep said that he did not need my business anyway, What a professional.

  4. Debbi

    Thank you for the info on Spotlite Radio. I did a search as I was talking on the phone to them. Glad I was able to cut it short quickly. Free almost always comes at a price, whether it ends up being money or time. I don’t have enough of either.
    Thanks for the posting and best wishes to your future.

  5. SHIRLEE

    Heather, with all due respect, I agree with your performance on Spot Lite Radio. I’m sure you are a very knowledgeable person in your field, just by reading your review. However, you are so right, this wasn’t the best interview. Chris, who narrated wasn’t very good, either. There was too much pause after you would respond to a question.
    Seems as if they have the same pitch with everyone. When I was first called, my thoughts were the same as yours. Exposure with your product/company is paramount when wanting to grow your company. All we ask is for whomever we work with, to be honest and upfront. The lady who phoned me, Diane Steward, was really complimentary and kept me on the phone so long, I actually wore down. I was on my business cell phone and calls were going un-answered. I have not signed and don’t plan to sign. Why? Because if you have a good product and you are confident about your company there is no need to put such pressure on a prospective candidate by saying it’s now or never again. Really????? I certainly understand deadlines in marketing, however, they had been phoning me for several weeks and the fact that I actually answered a call, should not initiate such an urgency. I certainly could have been scheduled at a later date and been a good customer of theirs. “IF” I felt it was legitimate. Not saying they are not, it just didn’t feel right. Shirlee Poulos, GRI Owner/Broker Carney Realty, Inc. http://www.carneyrealtyinc.com

  6. Stanislav Zinkov

    Heather, I just received the same call and of course proceeded to do a quick check on the company when I came across this page. Thank you for sharing your experience and helping other business owners. We all value and appreciate your advice and feedback. Thank you!

  7. Sharon Caren

    Hi Heather,
    Just read your blog and wish I’d read it before! Wondering if you live in NY…I’m in California and wondering what’s going on at Spotlite Radio. I did sign up and do 3 Radio Shows. I’m trying to get the CD’s of the show’s as they promised and all the folks I worked with, the receptionist tells me are not there anymore. In fact, I don’t think anyone is there anymore!

    I’d love to hear back from you,
    warmly, Sharon Caren

  8. John Erbis

    LOL the same thing just happened to me 2 hours ago. I got the same phone call. The producer’s name was Todd Fields. He told me that 738,000 people had listened to my radio spot. He gave me the same sales pitch. We’ll I though, if 738,000 people had listened to the radio spot there must have been a few of them that may have gone to my web site. I have a program that monitors traffic for my site. I checked the time frame for 2 hours after the radio spot and there were no spike in visitor traffic. Actually, there had been only 3 visitors to my site within those 2 hours following the interview. I believe you are correct in your assumptions about spotlite radio. save your money.

  9. maxwell ivey

    Hello; I didn’t listen to the audio, but i believe you know yourself well enough to know if it was good or not. I just got the same call you did and am schedule for next week. I have been going on the brian the hammer radio show also hosted through blog talk for about a year and a half now. He is a bit irreverent but a diehard supporter of small businesses. You should check out his show and decide if you want to call in. if you do, be sure to tell him max or mr. midway mentioned him to you. good luck, max

  10. Priscilla Pelgen

    Hi Heather,

    I just want to thank you for your honesty and posting your experience with Women’s Radio Network 1. The same exact thing you experienced, happened to me yesterday. I too received the same phone call and sales pitch as you. In my case, I’m a Custody and Divorce attorney who literally (just this week) is in the process of launching a new coaching services and products site – based upon my own experiences with starting and developing my law practice and people. I was told that the network was only 4 months old, and looking to help get it’s name out there…establishing itself as a resource for women. That statement, and that the time involved was only 8 mins – was the reason I agreed to chat with them. In my case, I have some experience with media outlets.

    Here’s a summary of my experience, and their mistakes: The interview was still in progress when their “producer” was calling my line and trying to beep in via call waiting. (Professional media outlets do not do that.) The producer’s name was Jackie, who identified herself as the Executive Producer. (Executive Producer’s in media outlets do not handle customer service or customer development). She told me that 857,000 people had listened to my radio spot, and I received a 6.1 out of 6.0 (aka the same sales pitch as the rest of you). She also stated that Robyn Charles and KC Armstrong would like to have me back, etc.; and that my personal story touched them. Oh, and that KC had an audience of 30 MILLION listeners!! Then, came the pitch.

    I listened politely, but I had already decided I was not going to go any further with them based upon the two reasons I mentioned above, plus: 1) Professional media organizations are timely. They were late. In my experience people who are late cannot be trusted; 2) They didn’t follow media protocol (I won’t elaborate here – because I certainly wouldn’t want to educate them – in the event they came across this posting.); 3) They solicited the interaction and had no supporting documentation; 4) They lied to me, and I caught it immediately. There is no way on earth – an internet radio show on the air for 4 months has any staff with 30 million listeners. (For example, I think Rush Limbaugh has 26-30 million.) If this guy commanded that kind of audience, he’d be on different outlets. Perhaps he might even “start” his own program and website – and his advertisers would be paying big bucks to get heard on his program. It is not consistent for a new site, promoting small businesses and people who are not well known. 5) never give your credit card information over the phone, to people who solicit you. 6) Proper marketing involves tracking, it’s the only way to do it. It is not done by guessing. Before you spend a dime, either you have to know where your customer is – or you are purposefully experimenting with your message in a new medium; 7) Potential customers/clients do not care a whit about you or Priscilla Pelgen. They care about whether you can help them solve a particular problem they have; and whether they can trust you. When our message (as service/product providers) resonates with a potential client – that’s when we get the business. So really – its the right message, at the right time, delivered to the potential client – where ever they are; 8) Anyone can do their own promotion (CD’s, Press Releases, syndication, et cetera) – like that and know exactly whether it was profitable, and by how much – for less money.

    Finally, like Mr. Erbis, I also have a website plug-in which monitors traffic for my own websites. Again, like Mr. Erbis, I checked my website after the radio spot and of course, there was no spike in visitor traffic. I’m sorry about the rant – but I could go on all day long about this!! It really grinds my gears that people are being taken advantage of like this – with these scam-type marketing distortions. Thank you again for your blog post! Feel free to connect with me anytime. You can use the traditional way – or even hit me up on twitter if you have a quick question – via hashtag #pure180

    Pris

  11. Tamara Kaiser

    Hello, Heather and others,
    I just had the exact experience that you all had (though like one of you, my interview was reasonably good) same lines, same process, same stuff about my wonderful ratings etc. Note, however, that I was speaking to someone from an organization called “Woman’s Radio Network.” I was talking to someone who said his name was Brandon Lukes, and who told me he had some big position there (he gave me his title but I don’t remember it) and that he wouldn’t even be making a personal phone call to me if not for my “terrific ratings.” He offered me three 30 minute shows for ‘only” $6000. We kept bargaining back and forth as I had no interest in investing any money but was curious to see how far I could get with him. He kept offering me better deals. Ok I don’t have to commit to 3 shows, I can commit to two. Then one. Then “though we rarely do this” he’d give me a deal on one. I could do it for ‘only’ $1500. But the thing that really got me (which I told him) was that if i didn’t agree right then to the wonderful deal he was offering, the deal was off. We were back to the original $6000, though at first it wasn’t even clear I could get that ‘deal” again. “How is this pressure?” he asked when I said I didn’t trust/like the pressure of his pitch. After all, he explained, I can say no if i want. I just can’t think about whether to say yes, but somehow this fact didn’t, in his mind, constitute pressure. He finally agreed to give me 41/2 hours to make my decision. During which time I went on the web and googled “woman’s radio network scam.” And guess what? Turns out this organization is actually Spotlite under another name with different names for the folks running it. That’s what got me to this site. Which I very much appreciate. Needless to say i won’t be calling this lovely gentleman back.

  12. Rozanne Englehart

    Heather,
    I believe I just had a similar experience from Women’s Radio Network today. I was very excited and was happy with my eight minute interview, but now feel as though I was scammed. Being asked to be interviewed, is being asked to be part of program content – that’s the win/win – that’s the way media works. You don’t pay to be part of program content. If you pay for media, that’s called advertising. Basically they are misrepresenting what the are doing. If it was a transitional media radio station, as opposed to this internet radio station, and they misrepresented in this way, people would file complaints to the FCC and license would be scrutinized. This proposal to a “pay to be part of program content” is laughable. Before being a small business exec, I was a media executive for over 30 years. I have never heard of paying to be part of programming content. If they are selling advertising with “added value” of being included in programming content (I guess that is what they are doing), they really should present it as such and I guess we could evaluate it on that basis. Doubtful that it would stand up on that value, but they should be honest if they want to be seen as any kind of respectable media outlet. Truthfully, for $1500, I am sure we could all hire a publicist to send a few releases and we’d get legitimate media cover.

  13. Miriam Finley

    Wow, I was just given the same speech. I am amazed they get you so excited that you did good in the show and then are going to hit you for the good deal price of $1500 to for you to pay them to promote you for three more radio spots. I’m glad I listened to that little voice in the back of my head said “this sounds fishy”. If they genuinely loved you, they wouldn’t charge you for it because you would be attracting listeners to their show.

  14. Virginia

    Heather–I’m very articulate and I only got a 6.1. Snort. THANKS for posting this blog–it’s the only bit of info on this scam I could find! I was interviewed by the Women’s Radio Network WRN1 with Lisa Singer. Within the hour, I had virtually the same experience you did. After reading your blog, I actually listened to a couple other segments and then contacted those women through the business info they provided. And guess what….? Yep, you got it! Clearly, we all absolutely Rock on the radio and should all be on Howard Stern!

  15. Ginny

    I am so glad to have found your post! They will be calling back in an hour to hear my decision. I am armed now.

  16. M

    The same exact thing happened to me, Heather. Now they are called “Women’s Radio Network.” Thank you for posting this. I said no to this whole scam, and the a**hole salesman was furious and hung up on me. This company is sleazy, totally misrepresenting themselves, and they need to be shut down before they take advantage of more people.

  17. lynn a.

    I just had the exact. same. experience. My ratings were 5.2…double the average of a mere 2.5!! Here’s new new scam figure: over 87% of the 926k listeners stayed with me the whole time!! (And yet only 6 people visited my website…) I was told that the producer wasn’t even ALLOWED to offer something like this if the ratings weren’t this good.

    Well, glad to see that my instincts were right and that I didn’t pay the $1,500.

  18. Penelope M

    Thanks Heather for posting this. I just when through it 30 minutes ago. Multiple things were a bit off. First, my interview was supposed to be at 10am, when they announced a different person going on at that time. The interviewer did not have the same voice as the person on the phone with me, so it was clear that my interview was not going on live. 5 minutes after I hung up the phone, a guy calls me to say that I was a radio star and they want to put me on for 1/2 hour segments. First off, it was hard enough to fill 8 minutes of time, but 30 minutes for a segment on my field of work is a stretch. And then, the punch line, what normally work cost over $12000 for 3 interviews, they would do it for only $6000! At that point I kind of saw it coming,, and I said to him that it totally sounded scammy. He tried to argue with me, and then just hung up.

    I do feel a bit icky and used right now.

  19. Elsa

    I was just called about this http://www.WRNW.com (Women’s Radio) and the “awesome opportunity to advertise my business”. He wanted to sell me a spot for $4,500.00 I told him I didn’t have a “business” to advertise and then insisted on talking to me and said he would drop the price to $3,500.00 I told him I was not interested and to remove my phone number from their lists! Did he think I was sucking my big thumb?

  20. Jean Marie Welch

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your candor. My gut told me it was a bunch of hype and I didn’t succumb to all the flattery, but I decided to invest because I felt if people heard actual poetry that I write it would be worth a shot. Print advertising has not yielded much result and I reasoned that if I got a few jobs it would be worth the risk. I was very happy with my interviews and there wasn’t a problem until the fast talking salesman said he needed me to submit a sample poem for the such and such poetry award. I sent him a sample verse. When I received my credit card bill a couple weeks later, Women’s Radio Network 1 had withdrawn the original sum I agreed to pay a second time. I am still working on trying to get this resolved. Thank you for exposing these people for who they really are.

  21. Jeanne

    THANK YOU very much everyone! “Stan Obrien” has been calling me regularly the last several days. I typically don’t take unscheduled calls so he finally left a voicemail. Until I read the blog and the comments, I was tempted to return his call — his voice mail made it sound interesting… and flattering. Thanks to all!!!

  22. Rocale

    Thank you Heather. What an awesome experience I must admit! I completed my interview this morning and dominated the time slot. Like everyone else the Producer called and flattered me on how GREAT I was and how there was an overwhelming response from their 2 mil viewers. Well I wasn’t available to discuss so I requested for him to call me back, which is in the next 3 minutes. I’m locked and loaded. Thank you again.

  23. Julie Cline

    I am amazed to see so many posts and how recent they are. I received a similar call this morning. I must admit, I was flattered and excited. However, I am a fact finder. Though the 1250 they wanted me to pay is an affordable price, I questioned the integrity and authenticity of this “too good to be true” offer. Thanks to all of you for your input!

  24. Nanci Banks

    It’s almost a relief to read these comments because I thought I was the only small business owner/consultant who allowed herself to be drawn into this scam. My experience was exactly the same. Ironically, my interview was very good but only because I’m a qualitative researcher and used to such interactions. With that said, my radar immediately went up when I received a telephone call from a “produce” about 5 minutes after my show telling me how phenomenal I was and they could help me grow my business through their radio program “only for $10,000.” Yeah, right. What is the saying…”if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.”

  25. Teresa

    Heather, it’s been a while since you’ve had a response to this blog, but guess what? They’re back! It appears to me that this internet radio station reinvents itself with a new name with surprising regularity. Your experience was with Spotlight Radio, others’ were with Women’s Radio Network, and mine was with the Professional’s Radio Network.

    I think they’ve toned down some of their promises and the abundant praise regarding what a great interview the 8-minute one was. However, I certainly did get a call similar to the others and it WAS very flattering. 🙂 I haven’t listened to the play-back of it yet, because it hasn’t yet been archived and uploaded to their website. I am generally fairly good with public speaking and like to talk, so it was probably pretty decent.

    I was told they have a listening audience of about 400,00, which is likely a huge overstatement, but not as egregious as what some of you others have experienced. I did look them up on twitter and they have about 44,000 followers. That seemed acceptable to me as it’s a larger network than I currently have and it may lead to potential leads.

    They did reduce their price point from $10,000 to $3500 to $1000 to do one 30-minute spotlight interview. I don’t feel as if I’ve been as scammed as others may, because I had a pretty good idea what was going on as I had the phone conversation with them. I decided I would risk $1,000 for essentially advertising with them. However, I was supposed to have a commercial made, a press release and social media posting in connection with this 30-minute interview. That hasn’t happened. I will be contacting them to ask why they haven’t held up their end of our agreement and asking for a refund or reduction in the amount I paid. If I was going to receive the press release and all the social media posting to my current social media channels without having to do so myself, I thought the advertising expense was a bit high, but maybe worth it.

    Bottom line: This may not be totally scam worthy anymore, but I do believe they misrepresent what they’re “selling”. If you think of it as advertising and marketing, you’ll be heading in the right direction to make a more informed decision about whether you wish to do the interview. My mind isn’t 100% made up yet and will have to see how they respond to my query regarding their promised services that have not been delivered.

  26. Pete

    I am guessing that those of you who are authors are self published and not represented by a book agent. I would be surprised if your “interview” ever receives more than a random listen. Please don’t pay a dollar to advertise on Internet radio unless you are buying time on one of the handful of successful podcasts with hosts who have a following and name recognition.

  27. Julie

    BE AWARE! Now they changed their name and they call themselves PRNFM ( Professional Radio Network – Radio for professionals) They are using exactly the same approach! Step by step, exactly the same. They are stealing your money!

  28. Aaron Dutil

    I was also contacted by the ‘Professional’s Radio Network.’ I did the 8 minute segment and got the call immediately afterwards by the ‘producer’ who started using high pressure sales tactics on me, as someone who used to be in sales, I immediately recognized the attempted manipulation. I strung him along just to see how far he would go with his claims and how far he would drop the price for all the ‘exclusive services’ they provide.

    Teresa, like you they offered me everything for 1,000 and that’s when I hung up. I’m sorry but I highly doubt you are going to get everything they promised, if you do, I would be highly suspect of the quality. Be very careful when anyone starts using high pressure sales pitches, it usually means they’re product is terrible.

  29. Jean Henry

    They’ve changed their name but not their “M.O.” Name used now is PRN (Professional Radio Network capitalizing on NPR name recognition). Thanks for sharing so others can be informed.

  30. Audrey

    Thanks for your feedback on this! I just finished the 8 minute interview and then the call about doing the 3 longer segments. TOTAL SCAM!!! I really appreciated the heads up on this!

  31. Tonessa

    Teresa,

    Do you have a follow up on this? I just got a call from them and basically had to hang up because they would not let me off the phone until I signed up. I of course hung up because he would not let me get a word in edgewise.

    I just want to know if you got what you paid for.

    Thanks.

  32. Eva Klivington

    total scam artist. Professional radio network just wants money out of you for nothing. I called Better business beurau and they said on the scale of a to f ( A is the best F is the lowes) Professional Radio Network rates F!!!!!!!!!!!. They are trying to come after me for like $17,000 lying that they did this and that when they did nothing. After I found out what scam bags they are I called them up and told them I want nothing to do with them. They called begging me to do a radio interview but I refused. Everything was free at first and they wanted to scam me to toe tune of $17000. They reported me to my credit card company and demanding that money out of me for nothing. Big lesson to learn. Do not touch them with a 10 foot pole. Professional Radio network is nothing but a ling theaf who wants to get money out of you for nothing. Lower than snake’s belly. Eva Klivington 703 391-7450

  33. Sarah

    Heather, and all the rest of you,
    Thank you!! So, I tried to put the original caller off last week, but he caught me today. I’m not even sure why I agreed to it. I guess it was pure ego; my business is just as busy as I want it right now. I thought they just wanted to hear about my profession! What a dork I am. Well, as you can see, I have done my due diligence, and I won’t be coming to a “Professionals Radio” station near you, ever.

  34. Machell

    I have (at this point) had the same experience with The Professional Radio Network. I received a call last week offering me a free eight-minute interview to talk about my Business (I am a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in private practice.). I asked the sales rep if there would be any cost to me, as I had been approached before by an “executive producer” from another online radio station who told me they might be interested in me hosting my own show on their spirituality channel, and after spending about an hour on the phone with him, I was told that the cost to me (for a one-hour show for 13 consecutive weeks) would be $6,000), I told this sales rep from the Professional Radio Network that I was definitely not interested if there would be any cost to me. He assured me that this was completely free, and simply an opportunity to give their listeners an idea of what services I provide. I then asked him what type of radio show this is, and was told that it was for female entrepreneurs, and that with my years of experience, I could help inspire and encourage other women. So I agreed, and scheduled an interview for 9:28 this morning. About 30 minutes before my interview, I decided to check out the station, and was surprised to find the most recent interview was with a male computer business owner who simply talked about his business–so much for being a station tailored to female entrepreneurs. So I decided to research this station, and came across this blog. I did the interview, and must admit that that the woman who interviewed me was familiar with my website and what I do, and thought the interview went pretty well, although I haven’t listened to it yet. But after reading this blog and all the comments, I wasn’t surprised when an “executive producer” of the show called me within five minutes and asked me to get a pen and paper so I could take some notes. I told him I had no time as I had to prepare for my next client (true), and that I had clients scheduled all day, so wouldn’t have time to talk to him today (also true). He said he would call me tomorrow morning. My plan, thanks to this blog, if I have time to take his call at all, is to ask him for names and contact information from other business owners who have paid them for a show, so that I can contact them to see if their financial investment paid off by attracting new customers or clients. If I actually decide to talk to him, and he is willing to provide me this information, I’ll let y’all know. Thanks, Heather, and to all for the information and comments about your experiences.

  35. Jason Phillips

    This is a SCAM pure and simple. They just contacted my father, 78 years old, who is a semi-retired consulting engineer living in a tiny town in Southern Oregon. Why is a “New York” broadcasting company calling my dad for a radio interview? He got all excited and sent his kids a link to listen to the show. At first, all of us kids were excited that dad actually texted a link. Then we were really excited that he had this fun and interesting thing happening in his life. Then I got suspicious and went to the Internet to do a little checking. Thank you, Heather Goff, for your post. I was able to make my dad aware of the scam before his interview. He did the interview anyway for the fun of it but now he is aware of their practice and will not be buying any advertising with them. He’s a highly intelligent guy anyway and would probably have sniffed this out. But I hate to think he could have been enticed to spend money with these scumbags.

    For anyone reading this and still considering whether or not this is legit, consider this:

    – These people are not part of the public broadcasting service and THEY ARE NOT INTERESTED IN YOU OR WHAT YOU DO. DO NOT FALL INTO THE FLATTERY TRAP.

    – Note the “Celebrity Row” heading on their website. Seriously? The first 10 pictures aren’t any celebrated individuals I’m aware of. The actual celebrities who are featured likely don’t even know their pictures are there. Anyway, who cares if a celebrity is featured? Celebrity or fame DOES NOT EQUAL credibility.

    – Finally, radio advertising, in order to be effective, is extremely expensive because it requires significant repetition, not to mention PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION. It is most effective for businesses with a large scale and would rarely, if ever, have a positive return on investment for a small business owner unless they were part of a larger co-op or brand and they were merely contributing to a collective fund that drove their common brand.

    – Please do not be fooled by these people. They are using flattery to prey on human emotion. They provide you nothing in value.

  36. Katie

    Hi Heather-Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I was just called by a company called Professionals Network Radio (PRNFM). They said they were focusing on therapists, life coaches, and wellness professionals and they found me online. I did just update my website, but I was surprised. If radios want interviews wouldn’t they want to give their listeners experts and authors of books? I’m just a lowly practitioner (happily!). So it didn’t ring true that they were really interested in interviewing me, which led me to do this search. I appreciate you sharing your experience, now I know not to bother. -Katie

  37. DR NORTON

    I was call by a different radio station – Empire Broadcasting out of New York . I got a 9.6 out of 10 and they called me within an hour of doing an on air interview. They raved about my on air presence and offered me five 30-minutes segments to market and sell whatever I wanted to talk about. They told me the station was listen to by millions internationally. And they would do “press releases” prior to each of my segments to get listenership up. Off the bargain basement price of $5000.

    The minute they started talking about me paying them for me to do work, my internal red flags started flying! I’m an experienced speaker and have been told my on air radio voice is quite good. So all of their complements really didn’t sway me. It was really about the fact that they turned my work into their profit.

    They tried everything to get me including smaller packages for less money. The last offer was $1500 for three 30-minute segments. I think it was quite offputting what’s the urgency they created. They only had so many spaces on the schedule and if I didn’t sign up that day and give them a credit card number, they “could not guarantee that they could get me on air.”

    I’ve been around a lot of sales in my lifetime. Done quite a bit of it myself. I know a pitch when I hear it coming. Needless to say, I took a pass.

  38. Patrick Healy

    Just did my 8 minutes with Empire Broadcast/PRNFM and it went well – very fast. I immediately got a call from Adam, their “Executive Producer” trying to tell me I hit a 9.7 and they wanted me back for a 6 30-minute set of shows for $6500. What a bargain! When I told him that I needed to speak to my partner about a decision like this he took the price down to $2850 for three show. Again, I said I had to speak to my partner. He offered one show at $1000 and dinner at Carmine’s after it was over.

    He also GUARANTEED me that these shows would pay off due to their 65M person audience. Who’s listening to this show? I’ve never heard of them, nevermind listen to it. He said he thinks I’d be a millionaire over the next three years. Really? Those are some pretty big sales promises.

    When I asked him to send me an email detailing all of this he said that the company doesn’t send emails because they would be sending millions a day to people who may or may not buy. First, email costs you nothing. Second, how many guests can they have a day on the show? 50?

    If something seems too good to be true, it probably is and this didn’t seem all that great. I’m doubtful if my 8 minutes was live or if it will ever hit their site – which looks like it was built by a middle school kid in WordPress. Move along, move along. I’ve got money to make.

  39. Laura

    So glad I found this blog! They’re still at it, almost word-for-word as Professional Radio Network and keep mentioning TuneIn Radio. I knew it was too good to be true so much for my dreams of being on the radio (he also mentioned Oprah!!). When he calls tomorrow I’ll feel better about telling him what he can do with his deal.

  40. Shelly Luan

    Hi Heather! I just got a call from one of these scam radio stations, proposing to feature my small face painting business, and thankfully I was able to confirm my suspicions after reading your article.

    You’re very generous and kind to have taken the time to warn others about it, good for you! I also wanted to say that you have a sweet voice, eloquent speech, for as insecure as you are about public speaking (as all of us are), I have to say that the biggest reason for your interview to have awkward pauses, is the bad interviewer – apparently he wasn’t a real professional and it showed in his little participation in listening to you and asking you good questions.

    Cheers to you!

    Shelly 🙂

  41. Donald Pelles

    Heather, thank you so much for posting this. Same thing with me, the 8-minute radio with “Crissie J.”, then “Executive Producer” Adam calling me with raves. Don’t need to say any more – it’s all there above, to the letter.

  42. Sandy

    Just did this this morning and they called back after a couple of hours. I had a feeling it was a scam too, but what could it hurt to give 8 minutes of my time for a “radio interview”. Who knows if it actually even aired, but I politely declined the $2500. offer for three half hour shows, press release and all that you said. Thanks for this post. I’ve been in business long enough now to be able to tell a scam when I see it.
    P.S. By the end of the call, he offered the show for $500 cuz he’s “very flexible and willing to work with me” LOL!

  43. Georgia Walters

    I received a call for the “interview” today. Empire Radio (www.empireradionow.com 631-257-5599) and signed up. Then started Googling since I had a feeling something was off about this. Thankfully, I found your blog. I knew my gut was telling me something was off but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I’ve canceled my interview because I just am not going to deal with it.

  44. Carissa

    As soon as I got the call, I assumed they’d be wanting money from me. (Which I confirmed the day of the original call when I asked “What’s the catch?”) But I thought “Hey, a free 8 Minute radio interview, I can use it for my own use.” Little did I know 5 minutes after the interview John Burn would call me telling me I was so wonderful and “I’m just the type of professional they are looking for.” He asked me if I had 5 minutes to talk, which I obliged. Next thing I know, 25 minutes later I’m still trying to get off the phone. I know YOU don’t pay for your talent, people pay you. Since I haven’t listened to the interview yet, I hope it is something I can use for my own portfolio and make the experience worthwhile. If not, I’m out my time. Oh well. But beware- these people are just trying to sign up people to make money. Like $5000.

  45. Bill Benoist

    March 2017 –
    I had the same thing happen with me – 8 minutes on the radio, sales pitch within the hour, etc…. I did cut the call quite short with the producer (aka: hung up on him), so we never got to the bargaining part.

    I am curious from others – did you ever see an audio clip. Something told to me during the initial call was that it would be live and I would receive a recording afterwards. Even moments after the interview, I never saw my interview show up under “recent tracks” and when I was reportedly on live broadcast – I had someone tuned in who was unable to find me.

    I wish I had found this blog before agreeing to the interview.

  46. Norman Cahn

    I had the interview myself today. It was a good interview and they really know hot to stroke your ego. At this point, I was already suspect. I was told that the response was so good, in a rating from 0-10, I was at 9.1. I looked out the window to make sure I could let all of them in. I ended pretty quickly after that.

    You are basically auditioning yourself on their 8-minute radio spot to give them an opportunity to sell you in the most sneaky way. I looked at it as an opportunity to take a closer look at my marketing plan and what to potentially add.

    Always remember that there are many charlatans out there and be careful.

  47. Russell

    Okay, i felt the need to chime-in on this string. I got the first call. “we want to interview GREAT business owners like you.” Great. I’ll do the interview. At the very least, I’ll have a nice thing to spread on MY social networks. After all, how bad could they be? As for me, I’ve been a voiceover artist most of my adult life. I’ve done countless radio and TV commercials, done cartoon voices, narrated numerous projects and was the voice for Toys R Us, Florida Orange Juice and many other specialty “voice-related” projects. So I’m curious how they’ll rank my interview, promoting a company I own which does Segway tours in the historic district of Tampa, Florida. (either they’re going to love me, or the amazing content I have to share, we’ll see)

    But here’s what I want to add. As some of these posts describe, there is no “immediate” need to get your CC number. The deal won’t change if you think about it. In fact, it should get better.
    MORE IMPORTANTLY, what I have done, because of my experience in advertising, radio, television and in a previous career I co-published a fitness magazine, here is what I will know and share FOR FREE to all the small business owners here.

    There is no such thing as free. The cost of any particular item, product, or service is inevitably paid somewhere along the line. The thing you have to remember when you own a small business is that you have to make more money than you spend. People forget that and advertising sales pitches never address this fact.

    So once you truly understand what is the nature of how your business will succeed, you may take this free advice as to how to respond to advertising companies. Please bear with me in this long-winded piece.

    The bottom line is, make them prove to you that what you pay for will always be less than what you earn. I’ll say that another way. Whatever the fee is they should guarantee that you will earn more than that cost. So here’s a couple of Insider tips. I would be willing to bet that 99% of all advertising does not work. They can make loose connections between something you’ve done recently “changed” something in the present. Those being, non-revenue generating things like, more “clicks” on your website, more “views” on your online video, or more “likes” on your Facebook page. These things are all part of the sales pitch. But I urge you to ask this one question: “How do any of those things translate into commerce?” They don’t. Trust me. No matter how you want to slice it, they don’t CREATE a sale. Those things create “awareness.” Possibly more potential buyers are now “aware” that your business is open and ready to accept money. Which is why I’ll do the interview. I can use that recorded piece to CREATE awareness. Linking awareness to sales is not even close to being an actual science.

    No advertising company I’ve ever talked to after being in some sort of business of my own most of my adult life, has ever said to me, what they do, turns into sales. Remember, what you need is a transaction. All the likes and all the comments in the world in no way are directly correlated to a potential guest, client or customer handing you money. (which is when you actually transact)

    So if you want to have a little fun not necessarily save any time, just ask them to prove it. They’re going to tell you that there’s no way to prove it and your only response to that statement should be something like this: “Then why would I accept 100% of the risk by handing you my hard-earned money FIRST?” The key word in that sentence is FIRST. If advertising companies were actually worth their salt they would prove what they are charging for has the value they claim BEFORE they charge you.

    I get a lot of flack from people in the advertising industry whether they’ve pitched me or not. Here is their claim: How does the advertising know that the business for who they are advertising has any trackable or verifiable quality.

    That’s a very valid question. So I simply turn that very same question back onto the company who is still asking for my money. “How would I know that your company is as good as you say?” (usually, this is where they hang up)

    If not, then I say, this policy that I have created in my company is in no way incorrect. Just because it’s never been done before and nobody has had the time or tenacit to pursue this path, in no way makes it invalid or incorrect. The better question is: Why doesn’t it work this way to begin with? Why does the small business owner ALWAYS accept the risk before the advertising company?

    I apologize for the long-winded nature of this post so I’ll leave you with just a bit more. Everybody knows how fast the internet is. We all know that we have access to Limitless information at a rate of distribution that we cannot even quantify. So with that said, I ask advertising sales people if what you have is so great how come I’ve never heard of it? How come I’ve never heard of my colleagues or competitors talking about it? Why is it, if you’re so great, you won’t tell me a few of your clients in my category of business so I can verify what you’re telling me? (they claim it’s confidential…it’s not. Wouldn’t they WANT their clients raving about their services and IF the client is actually MAKING money, you know they’d at least acknowledge that fact, if it were true)

    Most reasonable small business owners have their finger on the pulse of something, if not most things that could potentially benefit their business. We all know other business owners some successful and some not. Those who are successful would probably be willing to dispense with information regarding something that work for them.

    This article proves that. We all found information within minutes of sensing something might be off. That’s why they ask for your credit card right away. Once they have your money, even if there is a written guarantee there’s no way you’re going to get it back. All the stuff that was presented to you verbally in the pitch will be nowhere to be found after you’ve lost all of your money.

    So the final tip is this. Tell them to put in writing that you will make more money than it cost to do the advertising. So whatever the term is, if they charge you $1,000 you need to make $1001. Of course this in no way covers your cost of doing business, but at least if they made that guarantee, you have something tangible on which to build.

    Have you ever heard somebody in advertising try to tell you that these things take time? That it’s a slow build? Or that you have to renew your contract for at least 6 or 9 or 12 months before you may or may not see any results? Really?

    So again the small business owner takes 100% of the risk which basically equates to 100% of the failure.

    The only way he’s advertizing companies are going to understand is if we, the small business owner, actually stand up for what is right and what makes sense. Just think before you pay.

    If the advertising worked, we would already know about it. And if we didn’t yet know about it as soon as we make a couple of keystrokes on the computer we would find out the information we seek. (hence, your arrival right here)

    So make them accountable. Why would you a hand anyone your money only to end up having to prove on your own that what you paid for did not work. Make them prove it to you first. And one of the ways they can do that is very simple. Get a deal such that you pay for the advertising after it works. If it takes 6 or 9 or 12 months to actually see some return, and at that point if it actually did work, you would kick down their door so that they never shut it off!

    Think about that concept for a second. If advertising actually worked, they wouldn’t need salespeople. 🙂

    Again I apologize for the verbose nature of this post but I felt the need to get all of this off my chest so that small business owners can at least have an opportunity to succeed. If only by not spending money on useless advertising. The only way they will change their tactics is if we stop giving them our money. Imagine how fast it would change if we all did it. You have ZERO to lose because they will call you again. Ever get that call that said, “…we’ve made some great changes in the last six months…” (they didn’t) 🙂

  48. Zara

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Heather!
    I just received the same phone call and decided to do my homework and learn about this company.
    It just smelled a bit fishy to me.

  49. Laura Mendelsohn

    I just had the same thing happen to me from Empire Radio Now (earlier was probably Spotlight Radio). I did the 8 minute radio interview. I was worse than I usually am. I have been interviewed before on other shows, but usually am better than what I did during this interview.

    I was rated an 8.8 or something. “Best ever,” Adam, the Executive Producer said. He said they wanted to produce my show.

    I said, “How much would it cost?” He said it would not cost anything.

    I laughed at him as I had been solicited before by other networks. Then he berated me for not believing him.

    Finally, he promised to email me the paper work. Never heard from him.

    I just Google and found this post. Thank you. Now I am validated. 🙂

  50. Stuart Kaufman

    Thank goodness I read your blog before recording my 8 minute interview tomorrow. I cancelled it. Thanks for sharing your experience

  51. Fleur

    I totally fell for Empire Radio and paid $1300. The guy was so convincing on the phone. That night I couldn’t sleep so I called back the next day and cancelled it. 6 months later I still don’t have the money back. I feel like such a sucker.

  52. Geneva

    Heather,
    Thank you so very much for sharing your experience. I completed the 8 minute interview. This company is so very unprofessional. Regret I even completed the interview. It’s companies like this that make it difficult to trust media consultants.

  53. Linda

    Me too. It all happened to me too. I went for the 8 minute free segment and flags were going up before i even started. They told me I’d be on the air at 3:00. At 3:20 they hadn’t even called yet. My husband is a skeptic and kept telling me that this is a scam.
    I had Benjamin as a “producer” and he said I had a 9.2 as a rating. He gave me the speil for about 15 minutes and said it would be $700 for a 30 minute program. I went online and started calling people who had signed up many months ago and DID NOT FIND ONE PERSON who had gotten any calls or clients. I talked with a man who spent $7000 !!!!!!!! And a woman, an acupuncturist and health coach who spent $1000 and said — not one call. I wonder if this thing even broadcasts. Anyway – don’t do it folks. Save your $700, go to the play, have a good dinner and donate some to the Syrian refugees.

  54. Neva

    Spotlite Radio sounds a lot like Empire Radio Now. Just got a message on my phone from Zach offering the same type of free 8 minute interview but decided to do some research before I called back. The reviews are not good. Thanks for sharing this so others can know what’s going on ahead of time. As for me, I pass.

  55. Jim K

    UPDATE FOR 7/16/17: It looks like the company split (or has a split personality) and is doing double time as “Empire Radio now” *AND* WMAPradio.com (World’s Most Amazing People). K.C. Armstrong from the Howard Stern show is on the WMAPradio.com section. empireradionow.com ‘s website looks professionally done, and has all sorts of legal disclaimers and qualifies it as a “service” with a “48 hour refund policy”. K.C.’s WMAPradio.com looks like something a child did on their ipad.

  56. Lanny

    Thanks for posting this. I appreciate you sharing the experience to alleviate it for the rest of us. I’m sorry you had to go through this. I, like you, have a hard time being put on the spot when speaking. So I must Thank You for this. I too will pass.

  57. shel love

    I got a call from EMPIRE RADIO NETWORK, an internet radio show on wellness asking to interview me about Reiki. Respect I appreciate, flattery bordering on hyperbole, in unacceptable. Taking immediate action without due consideration, is not me. I found the ‘catch.’ They are selling pricey airtime. Nevermind.

  58. Catharine Hay

    Thanks for posting this information. I received a call the other day from someone who said they were a representative from Empire Radio Now and were doing a special segment on women in business. They wanted to interview me for Amazing Woman Entrepreneur, which is my business. I have been approached by women’s magazines offering to do an article on my business and then found out you had to pay for it. Because of this, II became suspicious about Empire Radio Now and did a Google search. All they had on their website were headshots of “guests” and almost no information about Empire Radio Now. I went back and checked the Google search for anything about scams and found your article. Luckily, I only received a voicemail and missed the actual call. I definitely will not be calling them back. Catharine

  59. Christie

    yup. Its now called Empire Radio…september 2017. I blocked the numbers. THanks for posting this blog!

  60. Andrea

    Just happened to me too. I did the interview, got the call and was told that I’d have to pay $2,500 for 3 30 minute segments but that is was virtually guaranteed that I’d get sponsors to offset the cost or break even. I said I couldn’t commit right that moment so he said he’d find out if they could do 1 or 2 sessions for less and call me back later today. Disappointing. This must be happening to a lot of people.

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