Monday, August 27, 2007

Radio Checklist - some old, some new

Yet more data, yet another checklist - but you can see the pattern developing between the various authors on how radio should be done. Courtesy to the host, local reference, and practicing your skills.

Next posts will probably be podcasting as a starting point - since we are getting repetitive data and little actually new... (at least she covers the "air check" point).


By Jacqueline Church Simonds

Here a few ideas about handling radio interviews. I will start with number one:

1. When they call to book you, make sure you get the call sign letters. the city, the name of the show, the hosts's name, what time (and time zone) you will be on, and ask how long you will be on. Also ask if it will possible to get an "Air Check" or MP3file of your interview.

You want the call sign letters so you can feature a link to their website on your website. Same with the title of the show and city.

You will also want to put your interview link (the MP3 file) on your website--unless it's terrible. (If it was terrible, listen to the recording several times to try and learn what NOT to do.)

You will want to write down the host'(s) name so you can say something like, "Thank you for having me on, Mike."

Make sure you know what time zone the show is on. From my experience, you can see that letting others try and figure it out can be a problem. Make sure you and whoever books you know exactly what hour everything will happen.

You need to know how long you will be on so you have enough material to be interesting.

Understand who is calling whom. Are they calling you or you them? Most will initiate the interview call. My rule of thumb is: out-of-country interviews must interview me.

2. Say yes to any time suggested.

Remember, they are doing you a favor. They only have so much time on their sow. If you agree and then say, 'Wow, that is early (late) my time,' they may be able to accommodate you. But don't press the issue if they can't change it.

3. Be flexible.

The interview may change. Be ready to drop everything and do it if they call an hour earlier. Do not complain if they want to move the time to later.

4. Take the interview call on a land line -- do not use a cell phone.

Cell phones can drop calls and get interference. I use a phone that I can connect a headset to. That way my hands are free and I'm not sitting there pressing a phone into my face for a lengthy time. Phone headsets are not expensive.

5. Sit. Stay.

One of my authors tried to an interview on her cell phone while driving through the Sierria mountains. Obviously, it did not go well.

Fifteen minutes before scheduled air time, go into your office, or a room where you can get some quiet. Tell everyone in your house not to bother you for the required period of time and close the door. Review your material. Have a glass of water handy--but remember not to drink until the commercial break (who wants to hear swallowing)?

6. Your mother told you . . .

To sit up straight, and I will too, but for a different reason: you will breathe deeper and speak from your diaphragm, thus enabling you to speak for longer without going hoarse. Also, it will give your voice a bit of depth.

Smile when you say "hello." While a smile is a visual cue, it also tightens the muscles in your face and throat, lifting your voice just a tad. Studies show that people can actually hear that smile. .

If your host tells a joke, chuckle appreciatively. Stay in the moment. This is not all about you. Successful guests interact with the host ()and callers) instead of being relentlessly focused on their message, ignoring what is going on in the show.

7. Content is king.

Most radio and TV hosts are not interested in talking to you about your book (although there have been some notable exceptions). What they want to hear about is the news that your book ties into or expands on, and your take on it.

You can ask to mention your book in the initial booking conversation. Some will not allow it, some will. What will usually happen is that the interviewer will state your name and your book at the beginning and end of the interview. Some will also state your name and book coming out of, and going into a commercial if you are on longer than 10 minutes. If you feel you can manage it, in response to a question, you might say 'I have a chapter in my book, (INSERT TITLE HERE), devoted to just that idea, [HOST'S NAME],' and then elaborate."

8. Try and find a local angle.

It will be more interesting to the show's listeners if you can give them some sort of local tie-in (and will more likely get you the gig in first place). If the subject is very broad, you can probably come up with something. Do not forget that being born or having lived in a state, county or town counts as "local."

9. In the end, thank the host.

If possible, send him/her an e-mail thanking them afterwards, and extending your hope that you can work together again. One of my interviewers wrote ME a thank you. I'm putting that in my promo file. It will help when I next try to get a radio gig ("Peter Anthony Holder of Montreal's CJAD says . . . "

10. And if they fail to call or cut you off.

Do not call and demand to know why you were dropped or cut off. News is news. If there is a big fire at the mayor's house, that takes precedence over you. Most will let you know that they cannot do the interview---but from my experience, you can see there is a possibility you simply never hear from them. Shrug it off and move on.

If they drop you after a few minutes of a planned 1/2 an hour interview, you may need to work on your skills. Were you being shy? Did you get confused? Did you somehow offend the host (which on some stations is a good thing, but not on all of them)? After the interview, think carefully about how it went--was it something you said?

Most of all, have fun!

J. C. Simonds heads Beagle Bay Books ( ) and Creative Minds Press ( ). This article is reprinted with permission.

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