Last week I sent you Part 1 of my interview with Lee Habeeb, a friend and business associate who is a “Talk Radio Coach to the Stars.” To refresh your memory, Lee currently coaches 7 of the top 10 talk show hosts in America; people like, Michael Medved, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt and Bill Bennett. He also developed “The Laura Ingraham Show” and was Laura’s Executive Producer for many years.
Below is Part 2 of my interview…I hope you enjoy the information!
My Interview with Lee Habeeb: Part 2
Marsha Friedman: One thing I regularly tell my clients is the importance of not only being interested in the talk show host who is interviewing them, but also demonstrating a caring for him, his show and his listeners. In your opinion, how important is this?
Lee Habeeb: In my opinion listeners are attracted to this sort of caring. Take the case of Click and Clack, the two car brothers. I don’t really care about car repair or cars, but every time my wife and I are in the car and those guys come on, we tune in because there’s such energy there. You get the sense that they live, breathe and love cars. But furthermore, they love each other. The audience loves them! The show is so rich in detail, in warmth and humanity, you can’t help but tune in whether you like cars or not.
The best performance comes from those who are relaxed. These brothers are so relaxed because they prepared for so long, they’ve got the details down so well that when they get on the air, they are ready to go. And this is what happens as you can probably imagine for most guests doing a radio tour. The more prepared they are and the more interviews they do, the better they will get!
MF: That’s a great example of how to manage the expectations of a guest. After booking guests for 20 years, I know that by their 15th interview, that’s when they start hitting their stride.
LH: Yes. The staged interviews you do in a room that aren’t real can be a real waste of time. It’s like scrimmages. If you ever coached college basketball and said, “Hey, let’s scrimmage and then we’ll play one basketball game” no one would ever get better. That’s why there’s lots of practice, but then you get right into the season and you start playing games. And luckily, there are a lot of games before the NCAA tournament so you can get really good.
It’s the same with radio interviews. There’s generally a progression. In the beginning – you’re awkward, not sure what you’re doing, and after all, it’s your first time. Then step by step, interview by interview, you get better at it.
MF: I often try to explain to people that this is an art – a skill that you develop. It’s not the same skill as being a public speaker or being a professor. Just because you’ve done hundreds of public speaking engagements or talked in front of groups, it is not the same thing. It’s very different, and that difference really needs to be understood. I emphasize the fact that there is a skill attached to this kind of activity.
LH: Well, look at E.E. Cummings – I think if you had stuck him in sonnets, I don’t know how good he would have been. So even with poets or even actors who are great on the stage, they just may not be as good in front of a camera. A good 100 meter sprinter is a different runner than a 440 or a 400 meter. And I get this all the time. “Man, he’s such a good guest. He should host a radio show.” My response is, “Oh, no, no, no, no.” Most people who are good guests can’t host a show because they’ve been so good at reducing stuff to six minutes that the idea of carrying a show for 15 hours a week doesn’t work as well. They’d rather spend 15 hours in a week to get six solid minutes.
So if you’re a professor and you have an hour a day, three days a week, 15 school hours, and you’ve had 8 years to prepare this, that’s a lot of time to make your point, get those ideas across, and do all the goodies and magic you do in that classroom. But it has nothing to do with coming on a radio show and having seven minutes to impress the listeners. It’s a totally different format.
MF: You know you’ve really sent home the point that being a good guest is a craft. You’ve got to study, prepare and drill.
LH: I can go to a basketball game and during the practice, I can pick out who the captain is by how he walks around. He’s not the guy slamming the ball down and trying to impress the cheerleaders. No, he’s the guy in a quiet conversation over here because he’s actually the leader. He’s acting like it; he’s talking like it. The best way to credibility is to be credible.
The best way to be credible is not to talk about yourself. Talk about the problem and the solution. Talk about the audience’s problem, the host’s problem, not your own problem. Here’s the solution. I’m not the solution. This is the solution. And then your credibility goes up the more comfortable you are in your own skin. The more you try and sell yourself, the less credible you sound.
MF: That brings up the question about how someone should pitch themselves as a good guest?
LH: For starters, don’t pitch yourself. Talk to the host, engage him and then through him, define a problem and offer the solution.
These hosts and producers could care less about you…they care about their show! Every day they look at the pitches they get and think, “Hmm, what would make this show work today?” And in the timing of the news cycle, what would make the show work. No matter what business you’re in, there’s a news cycle. If you’re in the vitamin business, it’s vitamin news. I’m just trying to make the point that there’s always news you can tie your message into.
MF: Lee, you’ve given us so many nuggets. Is there a final piece of advice you would like to share?
LH: Get with a professional media coach. You’re not going to get good as a talk radio guest by yourself. And, if you’re going to spend x amount of dollars on a PR campaign, make sure you’ve got the coaching. And make sure you get coached from a seasoned professional who’s actually done it as this is a specialty. If you’re going to get out there, be prepared.
MF: Lee, thanks so much for taking the time to sit down and speak with me today.
LH: It has been my pleasure Marsha!
###End of Part 2###
I sincerely hope you enjoyed my interview with Lee and found some interesting points to consider when thinking about your own talk radio publicity campaign.