Tips For Giving A Great Radio Interview

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3 Tips to Wow Your Talk Radio Audience

I have a favorite new talk show to tune into on weekday evenings, and I’m not saying that simply because the host is EMSI’s own Alex Hinojosa. (Although that certainly doesn’t hurt!)

Alex, our vice president of media operations, has an extensive background in radio. He worked as a national talk-show host, and was an executive producer for CBS Radio, Clear Channel Media & Entertainment and ESPN in the nation’s major markets.

I’ve always found it valuable to have former TV and radio show hosts and producers, and print journalists, on our staff. They have a deep understanding of each medium’s quirks and what types of articles and pitches will get results. They’re also trained to respond quickly to breaking news, which can result in great publicity for our clients. Several of our staff members, including me, still work on the side in their media, which I love; it keeps us happy and our skills sharp.

That’s why Alex and I co-host The PR Insider — does the name sound familiar? — most Thursdays from 3 to 3:30 p.m. There, we elaborate on topics I’ve written about here. (You can listen live, or catch our archived shows, via this link) Back in the day, we worked together for several years on a show called The Family Roundtable, where we talked about family issues with guests ranging from the late actor Tony Curtis to Rosalie Rock, mother of comedian Chris Rock, and Carol Burnett’s sidekick, Vicky Lawrence. That was great fun and gave me lots of fodder for the booklet I wrote to give to clients, “50 Tips to Becoming a Top Guest on Talk Radio.”

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to avoid burping on the air – as one of our celebrity guests did on Family Roundtable. But if you’re thinking about taking your message to talk radio, you may benefit from some of my favorite, and less obvious, bits of advice:

  • Beware of trendy “crutch” words. For too many years, “like” was, like, the No. 1 favorite fall-back word. Before that, it was “y’ know” – y’ know? “Cool!” has remained a favorite for decades because it can convey agreement, happiness, or the fact that you just can’t think of anything better to say. The newest crutch I’ve been hearing is “actually.” I actually heard a recent interview in which a college student talked about actually going to Syria to help people who were actually starving. We’re all guilty of using crutch words from time to time, and using any just once in a conversation or interview is fine. But they tend to be like potato chips. Record yourself telling a story and play it back to listen for repetitive crutch words, or ask a friend to critique you. Then practice excising them from your vocabulary.
  • Don’t back into your interview – start strong! Some people take a little time to get warmed up. Others think the audience will stick with them longer if they build up suspense, as in “I have something really important to tell you and if you hang in there, you’re going to be amazed!” I say jump right in and get right to the heart of your message. There are a few of reasons for that.1.Your interview may get cut short if you’re not entertaining and informative. 2. It makes a good first impression and builds momentum for the rest of your interview.
  • Use sound bites. Sound bites have gotten a bad rap; they’re associated with being shallow and insincere. But in truth, they’re very helpful. While listeners may not be able to immediately recall everything you say, your sound bites are likely to stick – which will help people remember some of the details. Good sound bites are nuggets of compressed information stated in a fresh, memorable way. One of my favorite celebrities, Muhammed Ali, is known for great sound bites, including, “I outwit them and then I out-hit them.” Prepare some ahead of time and have them written down in front of you when you’re interviewed.

Now that you’re ready to knock ’em dead on talk radio, remember, some of us get bitten by the radio bug and we never get cured. You could be next! Relax, enjoy your interviews, and record them so that you can look for ways to make them even better.

Crank it up!

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