Posted by: J Nyman | March 27, 2008

Some tips about how to do a radio interview

Today, I was on the radio for the second time promoting our stop on the local maple syrup tour. Over the years, I’ve been in the paper dozens of time and recently on the TV twice. Of all the media coverage I’ve been involved in, radio has got to be the hardest.

In the paper, you have some time to make sure you got your ideas across. For example, if you forgot an important detail, you likely have a few hours at least to inform the reporter of your mistake. My experience with TV has been that they check with you ahead of time regarding the questions they want to ask you.

I was interviewed live recently concerning farming and the Canadian Young Farmer’s Forum I was attending and they did a ‘pre-interview’ on the phone. One of the producer’s asked me questions for about a half an hour the week before I was scheduled to be on. Talk about thorough! (I guess they we’re making sure I could speak French well enough as it was on a Quebec station).

My other recent TV interview had John and I talking about our sugar bush while standing next to the sap evaporator in our sugar shack. This on was pre-recorded and we had a little pre-game discussion about what the interviewer would ask each of us.

So, TV has been easy and print media is inherently fool-proof if you’re paying attention. Radio, not so much for me.

So, here are some tips on how to make a radio interview successful:

Tip #1: Remember that the radio announcer is also producing the show

I’m sure there is someone else actually producing the show but the announcer is in charge of making sure things happen when they’re meant to. They turn themselves on and off, so to speak and, I believe, they start and stop their own ads. (I’m sure there is a technical way to describe this. I’m just reporting what I’ve witnessed.)

What I’m trying to say is, these folks are multi-tasking BIG time. So, try to be an easy guest. Sit there and take direction.

Tip #2: Take a gift

I don’t mean a new set of barbecue tools. There is no such thing as a Radio Announcer Gift Registry at Sears. I mean, if you’re promoting a food item, for example, take them a sample.

We’re making maple syrup and using syrup to make other goodies. I took a bottle of freshly bottled syrup and some of my Great Granny’s shortbread made with syrup.

He was happy. A happy announcer will do a good job of promoting you. And, it’s a nice thing to do.

N.B. Dis regard the ‘no barbecue tools’ comment if you’re promoting your new line of barbecue tools.

Tip #3 Know what you want to say

This is where I’ve fallen down on the job. Twice.

The announcer knows that you’re there to talk about fill in the blank. I’m sure some of them are more conscious of your needs than others but, to be safe, don’t rely on them being aware of your message.

Do everyone a favour and ask yourself: “What is the point of my going on the radio?” Then write a list.

Next time, my list will look like this:

  1. Maple syrup festival this weekend – both days
  2. Teens get free baked goodies
  3. Teens from our entrepreneurial program are giving tours to the public
  4. Yes, despite the weather, we have maple syrup and other farm fresh goods
  5. Our website and farm name
  6. We’re number 35 on the map
  7. Baby lambs to see

In actual fact, it would have been more bare bones because you don’t want to be reading your detailed list while talking on the radio. I added some details for you, the reader, as you don’t live in my head and likely wouldn’t get much from a cryptic ‘Note to Colleen’.

The things on this list may seem obvious. They should be no-brainers. In my experience though, when you get into a new situation like talking on the radio for the first (or second) time, it is possible to go into ‘no-brain mode’.

The first time I was interviewed, I didn’t mention how people could get a hold of me to register for our teen program. D’uh. Today, I didn’t mention the name of our farm or our number on the festival map. Thankfully, the host mentioned my name repeatedly and that gives a clear hint as to farm name.

Despite the learning curve, being on the local radio station is great free publicity. And it really wasn’t that hard to get into. I simply thought about what I had to offer the public that was more than the farmer next door – a teen entrepreneurial program – and sent an email to the station outlining the program and asking to get on the air.

For anyone trying to grow a customer list, I strongly encourage you to go ‘on the air’. All you need is something a little bit different that the public might be interested in. And the tips above won’t hurt either because once you go to commercial, there is no changing what listener’s heard.

If the announcer was frazzled because you distracted them from their work, if you didn’t bring even a coffee in case you’ve caught them on a bad day or if you forgot to tell them your farm name, you’re out of luck. This time.

Next time, I’ll be armed with my list.

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