Over the last 9yrs, I have done circa 190+ radio Interviews. Over that time I have learnt many things. Here are the lessons I learnt from my very 1st radio interview approx 8 years ago.
“Hi Mark..Its the BBC World service here. Can we chat about a topic we are covering tonight on our show?
That’s how it started, that’s how all radio interviews usually start. A researcher calls you to chat about the topic of the show and then to find out if you are their person to come on the radio. Do you understand the topic?Have you got an expertise around that topic? Will you be professional on the radio?
I chatted to the researcher for what seemed hours, The BBC World Service goes out to approx 70 million people all over the world. It was a major deal for me. The topic was phishing scams going through Twitter and how many politicians had been caught out by this.
Phishing scams are where you click on a link to what you think is say your bank, you end up on a page that looks like your bank, but instead of adding log in details to your bank it is in fact logging you into I’m about to rip you off dot com.
After my chat to the researcher, jackpot, she wanted me on the show. This was it, my big break. 70 million listeners. OMG, I was super excited. She arranged for a car to come and collect me. In those days The BBC World Service was based in the Aldwych.
I spent the whole afternoon, researching. I wanted to be the best guest expert they had ever had. I wanted to know everything about this topic. I wanted to make sure that I knew every politician affected, every article written about it, everything in the media about it. I was taking this incredibly seriously. No stone was going to be unturned for me.
The car arrived, I called my web host. “Ryan, I am going on the radio tonight. Its the BBC World Service, please triple my website bandwidth. I don’t want my site crashing from the avalanche of people visiting my site. I was leaving nothing to chance. Covering all my bases.
I arrived at the radio studios, mouth drier than the Sahara desert. I had water and a coffee and I waited. I was then called into the main radio studio. The radio presenter said “Hi, take a seat” I sat down, heart pounding, put on the headset and prepared my self. The topic was Phishing scams on Twitter. The music stopped. The presenter did his intro to me.
After his brief intro.. he said.. “Right Mark. What do you think of the Dalai Lama joining Twitter.
What was that? Where was the phishing scam questions? I had massively prepared for a topic and he was talking about a totally different topic and it was live to 70 million people.
It was at these moments that one or two things happen. You either crumble or the experience makes you. I had remembered seeing how politicians never seem to answer the question. They have all learnt a technique that no matter what they get asked, they answer what they want the audience to hear.
Back to the question, “Right Mark, What do you think of the Dalai Lama joining Twitter”?
I said that it was great that he had joined, it showed how mainstream Twitter was becoming which was great, but I was sure what his listeners really wanted to know about was the phishing scams going through Twitter and how it had affected so many politicians.
The presenter looked at me, and ran with it. “Ok Mark, tell us more about these phishing scams on Twitter, when did it all start, what are they, whose been affected, how can people protect themselves. Jackpot. I was back on track and the interview went brilliantly. 5 mins later, it was over.
Lessons from my 1st radio Interview
Understand that the presenter of the show often knows very very little about why you are there and the topic. They often just have your name on their screen and your expertise. Not what your there to talk about.
Radio interviews are different to perhaps other types of interviews. It is perfectly ok for you to drive the conversation. You have been asked to come on the show for your expertise on a specific topic, you need to talk about that topic. That’s why you are there.
Don’t discuss areas that you do not have an expertise on. Don’t get drawn into chatting about all sorts of things. That’s not why you have been asked to come in. Stay on target and stay focused.
Understand the nature of radio. You cant give long drawn out speeches. Its all about short bullet points and staying on point.
Take being on the radio seriously. Prepare thoroughly. Really and I mean really know your topic inside out. Radio wont necessarily get you any new clients. But its all about credibility. It adds a ton of that to your CV.
Make sure you give the radio station your name spelt correctly and your job title or description. Leave nothing to chance. You want to be introduced correctly and accurately.
After this radio experience, I also learnt valuable lessons on how to get more radio interviews. I’ll save that for another day.