Making the Host Happy Could Get You Invited Back

Recently, I put together a list of ideas to help people make the most of their TV interviews, so I thought this time we’d talk about radio. While they are both broadcast interviews, the experiences are vastly different, and really should be discussed separately.

However, before we discuss the best way to make the most of your radio interview, I think it’s important to examine the most common ways people trip up when they’re on radio. Radio is more conversational and free-form than television, and lacks TV’s visual cues. Those differences make it easy for you as the guest to let your guard down a bit and pay less attention to elements that are important for ensuring that the interview goes smoothly and that your message gets heard.

To be blunt, I have seen people with a good message and solid preparation blow their radio interview because they were unaware of some basic trade secrets.

  • The Host is the Boss. Remember, the radio hosts who interview you are not just considered hosts – they are radio personalities. Their names are typically attached to their show. This is not a matter of ego or vanity…the station develops their profiles so they become local, or even national, celebrities, creating a fan base and loyal listeners. Don’t try to take over the show. Don’t try to be funnier than the host. Don’t try to wisecrack to the host, thinking that you can gain points with the audience by “busting his chops.” The host is the leader, and if he likes you, his listeners will like you, too. Your smartest strategy is to engage the host and follow his lead. If you do, the interview will be smooth, the interplay will be congenial, and the host may well ask you back. At the very least, he’ll be more sincere about promoting your book or company.
  • Don’t Sell. A radio interview is not an infomercial. Infomercials cost money. If you want one, you have to pay for it. The hosts are inviting you to be a guest on their shows because they think you’ll be interesting, informative and entertaining, and add to the listening experience of their audience – so be those things. If you mention your book or company or Web site every three minutes, the 15 minute interview you were booked for will drop to six minutes. The last thing you’ll hear is “oh, it looks like we lost the call – we’ll try to get them back, but in the meantime, it looks like Charlie Sheen’s in trouble with the law again…”
  • Don’t Use a Cell Phone. The easiest way to cut your interview short is to use a cell phone. Even if your provider boasts the largest network or the latest 4G technology, cell phones drop calls when land lines do not. So don’t use a cell phone, because when someone is being interviewed on the air and the call is dropped because it’s on a cell, they really don’t try calling you back, even if they sometimes say they will. They move on. Use a reliable landline to ensure you get all the time you were booked for.
  • Treat Your Interview Like Coffee with a Friend. When you sit down with a friend, relative or business associate to talk about your book or your company, you’re usually relaxed, but enthusiastic about your topic. You don’t push your friend or colleague to buy the book or hire your company – you’re just telling them about your latest venture. You talk about what you’re most passionate about, because you’re excited about it and you want to share your accomplishment with those you know. All those things are what work best on radio, so envision you are in a comfortable coffee shop, sharing a cup of java with the host, and do the things you’d normally do in that scenario. You’ll find your host is engaged and his audience responsive when you spend the bulk of the interview simply being yourself.

These may seem like very basic things, but in a new situation like a radio interview it’s easy to take a wrong turn. So, in between prepping your messages and adapting them to something that would make an interesting radio interview, try to remember these basic rules, and you’ll have a better chance at not only getting on the air but also staying on the air.

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