I was travelling to a Buddhist meeting with a friend the other day and she was asking what I was up to. I said I had an interview with the LGBT community radio station in Bristol coming up.
“Wow,” she said. “I think you’re really brave to talk on the radio. That must be scary.”
Well that got me thinking. Because, actually, it is scary. And here’s why: you don’t know what they are going to ask, and you will be live on air and will have to deliver an answer.
You can’t very well refuse. Dead air is not good. Radio silence does not serve anyone. And you’ll sound like a prat who has something to hide, or nothing to say.
The first trick to radio success is research. No surprise there – but it needs to be done. Check out the station, listen to what they do. Google the presenters! Know what you are getting into.
The best interviews work if you have had a chat with the presenter on the phone, or had some e-mail correspondence beforehand. You get a feel for them, and them for you.
The next bit is preparation. Once you have a sense of your audience, and your station (on air, not in life) you can hone your thoughts on your book/ subject in a relevant manner. After that – you have to let it go, and go with the flow. Because once you are in that studio, it’s about listening and responding. You have built your scaffold –now kick it away and engage. And if you’ve done the work, here comes the magic.
I’ve loved every radio interview I’ve done. (In fact I’m sure I have a deep yearning to be a radio presenter). You can listen to some on my website. Each has been a different experience. And last night’s had me laughing.
So there I am with Shout Out Radio in Bristol, but we’ve been ousted from the studio while they do the election, and Pirate Nation have stepped in to rescue us with their studio: aboard the MVEmily. Excellent – the actor in me is totally engaged as I’m briefed about our location, and the pirate/ship/water/swimming jokes abound.
Now maybe someone else would have been thrown by that. In fact the team initially apologised a lot about our environment, telling me they had a lovely studio usually. It didn’t matter. I thought it was great. Take everyone out of their comfort zone, have a laugh, and still have a great interview.
Thanks Shout Out and Pirate Nation and their affiliates for a great evening –and for being a fabulous bunch of people doing a great job. And yes, I did get my cocktails and Japanese food afterwards!