|RADIO INTERVIEW 101 How to Practice for Radio Interviews
If you are considering radio interviews/publicity (or even publicity in general), and you haven't done any speaking or interviews before, you may want to practice a bit before you actually get on the phone with a station. Here are some things you can do...
CALL IN: Start your training by doing what you'll be doing eventually... calling-in to local talk shows (as a listener) and practicing getting into longer and longer discussions with the hosts. Some popular radio talkhosts (such as Laura Schlessinger) actually got their start by doing call-ins. And a side benefit will result from doing this call-in training... you will become familiar to the hosts and their screeners. This is what you will need in order for you (or your booker) to get through to these stations without a lot of hassle.
VOLUNTEER: Call your local college radio station and tell them you want to volunteer to help them out around the studios. You'll probably get some time on-air, and you'll also get to talk to callers and other DJs/talkhosts. You'll get a good sense of the equipment there, which will help you when you are talking to other stations (they will feel you know what they are going through.) As for commercial stations, they are going to be more difficult getting into the studios (even as a volunteer), so you will probably have to start off in the business office, although you will probably still get to meet the hosts when they enter and leave.
A not-so-obvious benefit of volunteering is that you'll get to see other prospective-guests (or their PR people) who are calling, mailing, and visiting the station in order to book themselves. Finding out how the station reacts to different booking techniques, as well as how the actual interviews are carried out, is something that will be of tremendous value to you when you are banging your head on the phone, trying to book yourself.
GUEST HOSTING: After months of call-ins and volunteering, you may find yourself being offered (or you may ask for) a chance to guest-host a show. And in general, I'm talking about a live-appearance at the station, as opposed to a phone-session. The first show that you get will be a small one, but the lessons learned will be the same as if it were large. Actually taking calls from callers and interviewees, along with dealing with the broadcast clock, will put you in a different perspective when it's you who is on the other end of the phone.
CHATS: You wouldn't expect this, but chats are the easiest way to practice for the questions you'll get from typical radio listeners about your interview specialty-topic. The feedback you get from a chat is different than what you get from a paid-speaking engagement, because the chat audience (since the chat is free, anonymous, and available in-home) is much more like a real radio audience. A chat will also give you radio tune-out training, meaning that you'll see people leave the chat if they get bored. This does not happen too readily at speaking engagements, since the audience is reticent about leaving mid-speech.
SPEAKING: This is about the only experience that is obvious, and most people will have tried speaking (or Toastmasters) before they attempt radio interviews.
START SMALL: When you are setting up interviews, you'll feel much better if you are calling a small station in Iowa than if you are attempting a top 10 Los Angeles station. The big reason for starting small, however, is that you'll get ten times the number of interviews. The audiences are much smaller, of course, but you'll (presumably) be doing interviews for the rest of your career, so spending the first six months or year with smaller markets is a good way to practice, not to mention a good way to build friends in the radio broadcasting world.
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