Radio - it's just like television. . . without the pictures!

2 May 2016 8:15 PMMike Bennett
Radio - it's just like television. . . without the pictures!

So you think you can handle a radio interview without preparation? Think again! I love radio! There, I've said it and I confess, it's my guilty pleasure!

I love the unpredictability, the precision timing, the fact that you never know who (if anyone?) is actually listening and the interaction on social media when something you say strikes a chord.

I've been 'doing radio' since I was 14 starting off at a local hospital through to sports reporting and then daytime shows on commercial stations in the UK and community stations here in Australia. As part of our training programme we set up a mock radio studio complete with mixer, headphones, jingles, the works to add to the reality but nothing beats the adrenaline rush of watching the seconds count down until you bring in the national news only to realise that your timing is out and there's nothing cued up ready to fill in those 45 seconds! Perish the thought that could ever happen to an experienced old timer. . . but it does!

I currently present a weekly show on Logan 101FM and seem to be 'getting away with it' so far? Despite not having a local accent or any real background in Australia, we (That's the "Royal We" must be doing something right as the feedback on Facebook and via the telephone during the show is very positive.

So, you've been invited into the studio, it's a slow news day and your company is in the spotlight. It could be a positive story or a major incident, the same rules apply. . .  

1: Take notes into the studio!

Not reams of A4 or a rain forest full of paper but just your key points. You might not use them but it's your comfort blanket and will give you confidence.

2. NEVER ask the presenter what the first question will be! 

Why?

Well, you know why you're there so the chances are they won't be asking about the price of bus fares in Logan (Unless you work for the bus company of course?) so if you know the first question you'll rehearse your answer then, if it's me, I'll have forgotten what I was going to ask in the first place and ask you something else.

I might just do that for the fun of it if you happen to be a politician or a real estate agent.

3. Arrange to have it recorded. 

Your studio experience will fly by, you won't remember what you said and it's handy to have a transcript if your company sack you for something you said while you were on the air. Most studios will do this for a small charge or set up the Tune In radio app to record it via the internet. Ask your kids, they'll explain. . . . 

4. Mind the gap!

There's a saying in radio that 'dead air' (silence) is death  so, if you're asked a particularly difficult question, just take some time to answer and the presenter will fill in that blank space. It's not your job to pad out the interview so when you've delivered your message just stop and wait for the next question.

5. NEVER use the interviewers first name.

It sounds corny, makes it appear like an old pals act and the listeners really don't appreciate it. Unless you really are on first name terms with the presenter, there's no need to be that informal and there have been occasions where the guest has got the presenters name wrong. Just last week one of my interviewees insisted in calling me Dick???

6. Don't save your best until last!

This is not a theatrical performance, you get your best message out FIRST, repeat it and everything else is a bonus. If you establish how long the interview will last it gives you a good idea of how many messages you can put out there but, as a rule, stick to no more than 3 and you should be fine. 

My only other advice is to enjoy the experience. Radio can be great fun on both sides of the desk and, if you know your subject, stick to the facts and 'keep it real' chances are you'll be asking for a repeat performance at a later date.

So, can you handle that radio interview now? Let me know as we are always looking for interesting studio guests who can educate, inform and engage with our listeners. Who knows, you might be opposite me in the studio soon?

Just don't ask me what the first question is. . . or call me Dick!