Conducting radio interviews is not a simple job. Not only do you have to thoroughly prepare, but you also have to conduct the interview, listen, and keep it engaging. That's not all though, you then need to be mindful of audio quality, your audience, and so much more. Despite all these challenges, there's no denying how engaging radio interviews can be. That's why it's incredibly important to work on being the best radio interviewer possible. So, we've compiled 10 tips for becoming a great radio interviewer. Check them out below!
10. Research Your Guest
It is of the utmost importance that you do proper research on your guest. Your research should be extensive and you should be extremely knowledgeable about your guest going into the interview. Research your guest online and on social media, read any news, books, blogs, or articles about them or that they wrote, and watch any shows, movies, or videos about them, that they created, or that they are featured in.
Also, read, listen to, and watch any other interviews they have been in and be sure to note questions they've been asked before. This way, you can ask new questions and find different angles on the topics at hand. Your guest does not want to answer the same questions in every single interview and listeners dislike hearing people answer the same questions over and over again, so try to be creative with your questions to encourage new answers. And, above all else, ensure that you know the correct pronunciation of their name and that you have the right information about them to be included in their intro and in your questions. The absolute last thing that you want is to be caught incorrectly pronouncing their name or saying incorrect information about them.
9. Do a Pre-Interview Survey
A pre-interview survey will help you get to know your guest that much better in addition to your own research, and it will help ensure that you and your guest are on the same page. You might consider sending your guest an email or giving them a quick call with a synopsis of how your broadcast will work and how the interview will go as well as a few questions. These questions can be anything you want to ask them, within reason, that could be useful for creating questions. The pre-interview survey also gives you a chance to clarify anything that you are unsure about from your research, such as the pronunciation of their name. The questions not only give you the opportunity to learn things that are likely not public information, but they also give your guest an opportunity to see the kind of questions you ask.
8. Stick to a Schedule and Format
You should communicate the schedule and format of your broadcast, including the recording date and time, whether it is live or being recorded for a later date, the expected length, segments, etc., to your guest. You and your guest should be on the same page about everything, so ensure that you clearly communicate all the details beforehand. Once you communicate the information, ensure that you stick to that schedule and format.
7. Be Conversational
While it is an interview, it should have the feeling of a conversation. Be sure to let your guest speak and let their answers guide the direction of the conversation. Then, you can come up with questions along those lines. You should always be prepared with research and questions, but don't get caught up in a script or force a rigid conversation. Leave room for the discussion to develop. Actively listen and then come up with questions as the interview is happening. And, let your guest shine, but always keep the conversation on track. You don't want to dominate the conversation or interrupt your guest, but if the conversation is veering too far off topic, you should bring it back to the topic(s) at hand.
6. Test Your Setup Beforehand
As with any broadcast, you should test your setup beforehand. When a guest is involved in your recording process though, it is even more important to test your setup, perhaps even a few times, to ensure everything is absolutely perfect. You don't want to waste your guest's time with equipment or audio issues. You should test your setup before they arrive and then again right before you start recording to check your guest's levels. Also, don't forget to monitor your recording throughout, so you are aware if anything goes wrong. Aside from testing your equipment, also prepare the space for recording with your guest and ensure that there are no potential distractions.
5. Start with Safe Questions
Give your guest a chance to get comfortable with talking on your broadcast and ask them a question about themselves or their work first. While you may have sent your guest a list of questions for them to prepare a bit, they could still be nervous about the interview. So, it's best to start easy to ensure your guest is at ease.
4. Chat with Your Guest Beforehand
Even if you've given your guest the rundown on your broadcast format and the interview already, remind them of what to expect. If you are recording an interview to air at a later date, this is also a good time to reassure your guest that you are able to re-record things or edit them if need be. On the other hand, if the broadcast is live, remind them of this while also reassuring them. Chatting with them a bit helps both of you get comfortable with talking to each other, so it sounds natural once you get on the mics. This will help put them at ease and again, will ensure that you are both on the same page.
3. Stay in Touch with Your Guest
Although you may be focused on the preparation for the interview and the interview itself, don't forget that it is extremely important to contact your guest after the interview. Send an email, send a handwritten note, give them a call, and/or reach out on social media to thank them for being on your station, for sharing their experience and expertise, and for taking the time and effort to participate in a conversation with you. It's important to show your appreciation and it also helps to build relationships, which is something that you should always be striving for. You might even consider sending them some sort of gift.
2. Remember Your Audience
You want your audience to get something out of this interview, so ensure that you ask questions for clarification in order to truly understand your guest and therefore help your audience understand your guest as well. Don't forget to push for an engaging conversation that is educational and entertaining. Although it is all about your guest, you also have the control and ability to keep things interesting.
1. Prepare Questions Beforehand
As mentioned, you should have questions prepared beforehand. Using your research as well as your pre-interview survey, craft open-ended questions and follow-up questions. Your questions should never be yes or no questions, they should always be open, flexible questions about your guest's experience and expertise. Also, it is important that you try to write creative and unique questions that will be informational as well as engaging for everyone involved. Having your guest's bio, intro, or any other information you are going to specifically say about your guest prepared should also be a priority.
Although there is a lot to think about, be aware of, and a lot of necessary preparation that comes with interviews, interviewing is a skill that you can really hone in on. As an interviewer, you should always be working to be professional, prepared, thoughtful, welcoming, aware, adaptive, and engaged. So, when you take all 10 of these tips into consideration and use them in your process for preparing for and conducting interviews, you can be sure that you are working to be the best radio interviewer possible.
Tip: In order to improve your interviewing abilities, listen back to interviews and take notes on what you did well and what you could improve on. You also might consider asking past guests for their feedback on the interview.
To check out more information about having guests on your station, read our article entitled A Complete Guide to Having Guests on Your Radio Station.
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