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Working with the media part IV – Radio


In my fourth media blog, I’d like to talk about working on, and with Radio.  The airwaves are full of local and national stations, all needing interviews and experts to comment on news and events.  The BBC has an excellent network and it’s here where I do most of my interviews.  My local station (BBC Radio Derby) and I regularly stay in touch, and this is paramount.  You must always keep in touch with the media.  If you’re launching a new project, product, climbing a mountaineer etc, give them a call.  Remember, relationships are a two-way thing…

Here’s a few more tips…

  • If you’re invited to speak on a show, listen to it in advance and get a feel for how it, and the presenter works.  As you’re travelling to the station, put it on in your car and listen to the articles that are being covered.  This will pay huge dividends when you’re sat in the studio.
  • Be on time – sounds simple enough, but radio shows run to tight timescales.  You need to be in reception at least 10 minutes before you’re on air to get signed in and escorted to the Green Room (which in my experience is never green..!)
  • Presenters can be adventurous – never think that all interviews will be done in the studio, or over a telephone line.  Recently I did a piece with Sally Pepper of BBC Radio Derby about climbing.  Before I knew it we were wearing radio mics and dangling from the indoor wall at Alter Rock (see image above).  Radio works wonderfully with these kind of interviews as it gives the presenter excellent material to use later.  Check everything works ok, speak clearly and enjoy yourself.  It’s obvious to all when your being interviewed and loving it..!
  • Studio rules – you will be escorted into the live studio, usually when music is on.  After the usual hello’s, ask about mic levels, and once they are set, keep a similar distance to the microphone.  Talk clearly and slowly, and don’t shout.  Studios will have a red ‘on air’ light on the wall. When this is on the mics are live, so don’t chatter, make noises etc as the mics are very sensitive.  No mobile telephones..!
  • Review – many radio shows are loaded onto the Internet on platforms such as iPlayer and iTunes.  These allows you to promote your interview through social networks (more about those in my next blog), and importantly, review your performance.  Don’t beat yourself up if you think it went badly, but listen and learn.  What went well..? What did/didn’t work..?  How could you improve..?  This will pay dividends for future interviews.

I’ve already mentioned Sally Pepper of BBC Radio Derby and I’d like to bring her in to give a presenters view of radio interviews.

Sally has been presenting on the radio since 1998.  She first worked in commercial radio then moved to the BBC in 2005 where she presented regularly on BBC Radio Derby, BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio Sheffield.  In 2008 Sally started working as a TV weather presenter for BBC East Midlands Today where she also presented the wildlife series “Sally Goes Wild“, but she has always continued her radio work whenever possible as radio is really where her heart lies.

“Over the years I have been fortunate to interview many interesting and well-known people…………the late Amy Winehouse performed live for me early in her career and blew me away, Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg talked about shoes while he was on the general election campaign trail in his Sheffield constituency, Robert Powell hypnotised me with his “Jesus” deep blue eyes………..I could go on name-dropping but the best interviews, for me, are usually ordinary people who walk into my studio and leave me speechless with the open, frank and sometimes heart-breaking stories they have the courage to tell live on the radio”

So, what makes a good radio interview?

  • I’ve been doing this for so long now that I forget how nerve-racking a radio studio can be. Most guests walk in and will either say they are nervous or just have that shaking, sweaty, pale look about them that gives the nerves away and I always say “Try to ignore the microphones, look at me and talk to me as if we are in a coffee shop having a natter”……you’ll be surprised how soon the nerves melt away!
  • If you’re offered a drink then, even if you don’t feel thirsty, ask for some water. You’ll be amazed how dry your mouth gets if you’re nervous. And don’t be scared to take a sip during the interview the presenter will allow you time to do that.
  • The reason you have been invited in for the interview will be because: YOU have an interesting story to tell, You are sharing YOUR experiences, YOUR expertise is needed for a certain subject.  In a nutshell…….you’ll be talking about YOU! So DON’T bring reams of notes with you because:

a) the constant rustling sounds awful on the radio and detracts from what you are saying

b) You don’t need notes when you’re talking about YOU.

c) There will be no chemistry between you and the presenter if you’re looking down at your notes instead of making eye contact.

  • Remember this is a fantastic opportunity to sell yourself, your event, your plea to thousands of people in one hit so be EXUBERANT, ENTHUSIASTIC and EXCITING
  • Don’t hold back……there is nothing worse than a guest getting up to leave at the end of an interview and coming out with their most interesting piece of information off-air…..its too late then!!
  • If it is your first time then turn up in plenty of time. You will get to chat through any worries with the (usually) fabulous production team who will then bring you through to the studio where the presenter SHOULD have a few minutes to chat to you and hopefully calm your nerves.
  • Finally…..SMILE! It makes a massive difference – the listener can hear a smile!! :-)

Big thanks to Sally for all her help.  I hope to have her dangling from a real rock face very soon..!

My final media blog will be about the world of Social Networks…

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