You received the call you’ve been waiting for. A radio producer has scheduled an interview to discuss your book, service, product, or issue that you want to promote. You know that discussing your topic on local, national, or even international radio is a great way to share your news. You know that radio hosts worldwide have a constant need for interesting guests, and there’s no reason you can’t share the airwaves with them.
But can you do it? Of course you can — with a little preparation. Follow the tips below, and you’ll be sure to have a great time as an “on-air personality.”
What do Radio Interviewers and Podcast Hosts Want?
It’s important to realize that, whenever you do a radio interview or a podcast guest appearance, you and your interviewer have different objectives. Each of you is willing to give the other one an opportunity to pursue their objective, but their objective is most important to them.
A radio interviewer or radio producer wants an amazing interview full of entertainment and information. They live and die by ratings, and if you’re not entertaining, or if you’re clearly pitching something, their listeners are one click away from another station, which if enough people click away, could literally cause them to lose their job.
A podcast host has that same objective, but in many podcasts, information beats entertainment. They still want you to be entertaining, but most podcasts are listened to because they’re providing interesting and valuable information.
You, of course, want to promote your website, product, event, book… whatever.
Just remember – your interviewer is bringing much much more to this relationship than you are. They’re bringing an audience. There are thousands of other people they can invite to fill the time they’re giving to you. So, your objective, promoting your whatever, absolutely must take second priority to theirs.
Get this balance right, be entertaining, and informative, with a minimal mention of what you want to promote and you could not only be a success in this interview but get invited back time after time to do it again.
And remember – people have friends, they talk, and they watch each other. When you give a great interview, the word will get around, and you’ll get more bookings as a result!
Preparing for Your Interview
Here’s what you should do to prepare and deliver an amazing interview.
1. When you schedule the interview, make sure you have written down the call letters of the station (such as WXXI-FM 91.5 instead of “Magic91,”) the name of the city, the radio producer’s name, the host’s name, and the exact time (including the time zone) that the interview will take place. If you’re appearing on a podcast, make sure you write down the name of the podcast, the host’s name, and any term the host uses to refer to their listeners.
2. Never do a radio or podcast interview “cold” if you aren’t used to doing them.
3. If possible, provide the radio host with interview questions before the interview. This is a great timesaver for a radio producer, and even if they aren’t used, they give the producer an idea of the topics you can discuss. This works with podcasters too, as many of them don’t have the media training and experience a good radio personality has, and may struggle to ask good questions that can create a compelling podcast interview episode.
4. Practice answering your questions. Put your answers on index cards. Don’t write complete sentences; use simple words to jog your memory.
5. Have a summary sentence prepared to answer a question such as: “Do you have any final words of advice for us?” Another question you should prepare for is “What else should I have asked you that I didn’t?” – a favorite question on many podcasts.
6. Decide on three main points that you want to make during your on-air interview.
7. Sometimes it’s difficult to hear the host (if your interview isn’t at the studio). Go to an electronics store, or online, and get a $20 volume control for your phone. About the size of a small pack of cards, it fits between your handset and the phone and uses batteries.
For podcast interviews, you’re probably going to be connecting through a service like Zoom, so make sure you have a good microphone and webcam so your interviewer and guests can clearly hear everything you say. There’s nothing that turns podcast listeners off faster than bad audio, so it’s worth paying a couple of hundred dollars for a quality microphone and stand to make you sound amazing!
8. Prepare your answer for the question, “how can my listeners learn more about you?” This is a normal closing question in many podcasts and occasionally is asked on radio interviews too.
9. Prepare a free offer you can offer their guests and put it on a URL that can easily be heard, remembered, and typed in by their guests. This should be something compelling, that takes the story you related on air to another level of depth, and that gets them interested in following you further.
1. If you’ll be using your phone and have a two-line phone,, turn the ringer off the line you won’t be using. Call the phone company to disable your “Call Waiting” feature.
If you’re using your cell phone, hook up your headset and make sure your headset microphone is close to your mouth.
2. Have a cup of hot coffee as well as a large glass of water available, in cups with tops. (Throats constrict, and cups spill.)
3. Have your index cards with answers to your questions in large legible handwriting spread out around your desk. Move your keyboard out of the way and turn off your computer.
4. If you know anyone in the listening audience, and it’s a live call-in show, have that person call in and ask a question if response is slow.
5. Before the radio interview, stand up, stretch, do deep breathing. Listen to your local talk radio station or a previous episode of the podcast you’re appearing on to get into the mood of “radio talk.”
6. To avoid the jitters: Tell yourself how fortunate you are to be on the radio or as a guest on this podcast. Talk in a normal conversational voice directly to the interviewer; don’t worry about anyone else listening.
7. Create the quietest environment possible. Send the kids and the dog off for a play date with friends (don’t forget the dog – they may be quiet all the time, but you can’t have them going nuts because someone came to the door during your interview. If that happens, I guarantee you, you won’t be invited back.) Then make sure everyone still left in the place where you’re recording will be dead quiet during your interview – no vacuuming, loud talking, or music allowed!
1. Remember your job is to inform, educate, entertain, or inspire. Your interviewer doesn’t care about your product. They want you simply to be an interesting guest for his or her audience, and that usually means providing the audience with useful information. If you offer useful information along with a little information about your product, that’s acceptable. If you sound like a commercial for your product, that is not acceptable.
2. Don’t drone. But do share what you know. Some interviewers do all the talking. The good ones let you talk.
3. Don’t say, “Umm.” Practice the day before and have a friend count your “umms.” They are very distracting.
4. At larger radio stations, they may record your voice and play just the parts they like. It may be a bit disconcerting because you can usually hear yourself being interviewed in bits and pieces. Just concentrate.
5. Get permission to do so before the interview, then find the right time to make your free offer during the interview. Don’t take more than a sentence to do so. It’s usually best to do this where it fits conceptually into your discussion.
6. If the host has not mentioned by the end of the interview your Web site URL or where the listeners can get your book, product, or more information, jump in and say, “By the way, if anyone would like a copy of the book, you can get it at [URL], the 800 number is 1-800-XXX-XXX or available at XYZ bookstore.”
7. After the radio or podcast interview, write a thank you note to the producer and the hosts. Tell them that whenever they’d like to have you back, you’d love to be a guest. If you are on the Internet, remind them of your website so that they can easily find you next time.
With a little preparation, you can be an interesting, confident guest. Doing radio interviews is one of the most cost-effective methods and fun ways of sharing your message with thousands of people.
This article, written by Lorilyn Bailey, originally appeared in PR Fuel (https://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (https://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: https://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.
Have questions for the author? Write her at [email protected].
In 1995, Lorilyn Bailey created GuestFinder, an Internet-based directory of authors, experts, spokespersons, and entertainers who are available for radio, TV, and newspaper interviews.