05 Jun How to be a great radio guest
I guess since I gave you my tips for getting on the air I should also tell you how to be a good guest.
I got a call today from an ESPN radio producer, ecstatic about the interview his host had with Dr. John Linner. Dr. Linner is 91 years young and the author of Normandy to Okinawa: A Naval Medical Officer’s Diary, a book that contains his personal diary during WWII – where he was present for both D-Day and Okinawa. If I had more authors like Dr. LInner I’d be able to book anyone anytime, anywhere. On top of the fact this guy has a razor sharp memory and incredible stories to tell, he is a brilliant guest. Maybe it has to do with being a surgeon (and therefore we would hope precise) but I think there are some basic things we can all learn from Dr. Linner.
- Be prompt – sometimes producers and hosts call a little early, sometimes a little late. Just sit and wait and if it gets about five minutes too late call the studio. If you’re calling in and the number is busy keep trying until you get through
- Logistics here – if you’re doing a “phoner” make sure your call waiting is disabled. And be in a quiet room where no one can bother you and you can’t hear any dogs barking or cats meowing or wives looking for their car keys (wifey was heard in the background on a national radio program once – it was terrible)
- Don’t do a phoner on a cell phone unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. Find a landline somewhere to use
- Thank the host immediately for having you on the show and tell him/her you’re thrilled to be there. A little gratuitous sucking up always sets the stage for a good interview
- Answer the questions quickly and succinctly. Get right to the point! 10 seconds is a lifetime in radio and if you don’t answer directly you’ll get cut off
- Don’t bring up your product or service and don’t try to “sell”. It’s okay to say something like “In my book, Normandy to Okinawa, I talk about that very thing Bob…” But shameless promotion like “All your listeners should buy my book at Amazon.com and read it” is annoying. Or worse – someone actually said this once…”Well if I give away all the good stuff during this interview no one will buy the book, so why not keep them guessing?” OUCH
- If the host veers off topic GENTLY bring it back if you can. Sometimes you can’t steer it in the right direction and you just need to go with it. They almost never forget to bring up your book or product at the end and that may be the best you can hope for.
- Make sure you have content to give them – do your homework! Bring up interesting stats, knowledge or other things that might support the topic. If you sound like an expert, they’ll have you back. If you’re just plugging your stuff you’ll have to wait for the next one before they book you again.
- Keep your voice upbeat during the entire interview. Some people start out strong and then fade. Make sure you keep it going (don’t go too far though you can start to sound insane)
- Don’t use “you know” or “like” or any other “filler”. You really have to watch this. I got going with one host and between the two of us we said “you know” 37 times in just a few minutes.
- The end of the interview is TIME TO PLUG YOUR BOOK, PRODUCT, OR SERVICE. And never, EVER forget to give them your website (just say yourdomain dot com too. everyone knows it’s www for gosh sake)
If you are fun, informative and upbeat chances are you will get another shot at radio. Hosts love good guests. That’s why my Dr. LInner is such a hit this week – at 91.