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Tips for Successful Radio Interviews

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Several Days before the Interview
  1. Remember that it’s not wise to do an interview “cold” if you aren’t used to doing them. Start warming up. 
  2. Practice answering your questions. Put your answers on index cards. Don’t write complete sentences; use simple words to jog your memory. 
  3. Have a summary sentence prepared to answer a question such as “Do you have any final words of advice for us?” 
  4. Give a list of questions to the producer of the show, or direct him or her to Guestfinder or another Web site that posts suggested questions. 
  5. Sometimes it’s difficult to hear the host if you are being interviewed via telephone. Go to an electronics store (such as Radio Shack) and get a $20 volume control for your phone. About the size of a pack of cards, it fits between your receiver and the phone cradle and uses batteries.
  6. If you have a “Call Waiting” feature on the phone line you plan to use, call the phone company and find out how to have it turned off during the interview.

The Day of the Show
  1. If you have a two-line phone, turn the ringer off on the line you’re not using. 
  2. Have a cup of hot coffee as well as a glass of water available, in cups with tops. (Throats do weird things, 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 call-in show, tell that person to call if they sense response is slow. 
  5. Right before the interview, stand up, stretch, do deep breathing. Listen to your local talk radio station to get into the mood of “radio talk.” 
  6. To avoid the jitters: Tell yourself how fortunate you are to be on the radio. Think of how it will help you achieve your goals.

During the Interview
  1. Talk in a normal conversational voice (but with some enthusiasm) directly to the interviewer. Don’t worry about anyone else listening. 
  2. Remember your job is to inform, educate, entertain, or inspire. The radio producer (or reporter) usually doesn’t care about your book. The radio producer wants 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 material on your book, that’s okay. If you sound like a commercial for your book, that is not acceptable. 
  3. Don’t drone. Speak in one to three sentences at a time. If they want more explanation, they will usually encourage you. Some interviewers do all the talking. The good ones let you talk. 
  4. Don’t say “Umm.” Practice the day before and have a friend count your “umms.” Avoid using “umm” because it is very distracting. 
  5. At larger radio stations, they may record your voice, edit it, and play just the parts they like a short time later (such as within 30 seconds). It may be a bit disconcerting because you can usually hear yourself being interviewed in bits and pieces with the announcer’s voice coming in between the edited parts. Just concentrate on the initial interview itself. 
  6. By the end of the interview, if the host has not mentioned your Web site address 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, the 800 number is 1-800/XXX-XXX or it’s available at the XYZ bookstore.”

After the Show
  1. 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. 
  2. If you are listed on the Internet (such as on GuestFinder), remind the producer or host of that so they can easily find you the next time.

Self-publisher Lorilyn Bailey is owner of GuestFinder, an Internet-based directory. Since 1995, broadcast and print media professionals throughout the world have found and interviewed the people listed on GuestFinder. Hundred of possible guests are listed on the site, including self-published authors. For listing information, contact Lorilyn Bailey by phone, 919/878-9108, or by e-mail, lorilyn@guestfinder.com. GuestFinder.com is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.Copyright 1999 Lormax Communications
This article is from thePMA Newsletterfor July, 1999, and is reprinted with permission of Publishers Marketing Association.

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