Since the 1990s, I’ve rocked the radio control room, doing everything from babysitting the board during ball games to interviewing celebrities like Y&R‘s Eric Braden.
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to craft a radio show that audiences will like. Whether you are live during morning drive time, or recording a podcast for a blog, the principles and expectations are the same.
If radio shows are part of your marketing plan, keep this check list of Dos and Don’ts handy to avoid being a bad guest.
How to be a Terrific Radio Show Guest
Be responsive. Provide any information your host needs before the interview. Some may want an extensive biography to write questions. Others may need photos and other media kit items. Ask them what they need, send a little more. The majority of hosts will tell you that they’d rather have too much information, than not enough. Also, return emails and other communications promptly. If you wait a week to send items, that is a sign that you don’t take the interview seriously.
Be on time. You’d be surprised at how many people are either late for an interview or a no show. Dead air is so much fun to fill!
Give notice. If you can’t be there, you’d better have a damn good excuse – and you need to contact your host at least an hour in advance. Text messages and emails are NOT appropriate – especially if they are sent minutes before the interview is set to start. You need to call the host. Leave a message, if necessary, but at least give the courtesy of a call. If you’ve lost your voice due to illness, have someone else call in your place.
Don’t use industry jargon. Unless the show is geared toward people in your own field, avoid jargon when possible. Use words and phrases that the average listener will understand.
Don’t talk above the listener. During most radio interviews, you will not be in a competition to outwit someone else in your field. You will be educating the public about what you do. That means you need to speak the language of the average listener. Not only should you avoid industry jargon, but you should also generate responses that are easy to understand for listeners of many ages and backgrounds. If you try to talk above them – which many academics do – then you will alienate them – and sound like a pompous jerk.
Never use the speaker phone. This causes static and echos in the recording. If you move, your voice vanishes.
Make time for the call. If you are in an office, make sure someone else is available to deal with customers and calls while you are engaged in the interview. Do not tell your host that you may have to hang up if someone comes into your office. You will never be called again.
Be prepared. Ask for questions in advance. Make adjustments to questions, as necessary – and only if the host says you can. If you are nervous, write out responses in bullet-point form – without full sentences.
Don’t read your answers. I’m hitting this point twice, because it is vitally important to the way you sound during a radio interview. As mentioned above, you should always write out responses in bullet point form. It isn’t a good idea to write the entire answer in paragraph form, then read it when you are live. Most people are unable to do this without sounding like they are reading a script. To audiences, this comes off as a robotic or lazy. Depending on your field, some might think you either aren’t qualified or aren’t quick enough on your feet to do a simple interview – which doesn’t bode well for business. Also, people who write out full answers typically have a hard time answering additional questions that arise during an interview.
Book Publicity for Beginners by Charlie Barrett0