How to prepare for a radio interview

One of the key activities that a spokesperson for any organization undertakes is an interview with the media. It is paramount to never take it lightly and understand that it is a significant opportunity to share key messages externally with the public.

While interviews in print/digital publications and on TV channels usually take the limelight in terms of frequency and importance, a radio interview is equally important and should be given the same credence as other mediums.

As for any interview, preparation is key and should be done meticulously as any careless fumble can lead to a disaster. But what constitutes the preparation of a radio interview?

Know your host

A lot of spokesperson, while preparing for an interview, usually focus on the potential questions and the respective responses. Only a handful of them understand the significance of knowing about the host and his/her background. It is a given that the host will do the homework on you and will have some background information in order to conduct the interview smoothly. It goes a long way if you do the same as it gives you a fair idea about the personality of the host and what kind of atmosphere to expect. Not only that, it can give you a credible insight into not only what kind of questions to expect but also the mood of the interview.

Know your time slot

While all elements of the preparation are equally important, let us still go ahead and put emphasis on the fact that knowing the time of the day when your interview goes on-air makes an instrumental difference. It tells you what kind of audience will most likely be tuned in, which leads us to the next step of our preparation.

Know your audience

Like every medium, it is key to know your audience. It helps a great deal to know about the show and its time as it gives you a good idea about the kind of audience that tunes into it at that time. This information can help you address that particular audience directly and prepare your responses accordingly. While it is true that anyone can tune into a radio show at any given point, there are usually behavioural patterns which lead to a certain type of people tuning into a certain show at a given time. A little research into the demographics of the audience of that show or around that time slot can help gain valuable information.

Be early

Mic fright is real and a lot of people face the jitters before going on-air, especially if it is live as it does not leave any room for errors. One of the things that can help is to reach the radio station early and be in the studio ambience to get comfortable with your surroundings. It helps ease the nervousness, if any, and gives you time enough to gather your thoughts.

Discussion with the host

It is absolutely imperative to have a discussion with the host before going on-air about how he/she plans to conduct the interview. Remember, radio jockeys/hosts are not journalists so they usually do not mind going through the rundown and taking you into confidence. Do not forget that it is their show and it is equally important for them to have good content with smooth execution, so putting the guest at ease is a priority for them and having a discussion with the guest to be on the same page is mutually beneficial.

No camera is a good thing

One of the key advantages of a radio interview is that it does not involve visuals. While a number of radio shows now include video footage for digital platforms et cetera, most of them still follow the old-school audio format with no visuals. This helps a lot during the interview as if there is an issue or you feel the need for something, you can always gesture the host or the technical team and since they are trained enough for such instances, they usually go on a short commercial break to address the issue and ensure you are back on track.  

Prepare in advance

Needless to say, it is not ideal to leave your preparations to the last minute. Prepare in advance as it will give you enough buffer to adjust to any last minute changes. Electronic media is often unreliable and any external event can lead to a change in schedule or how the interview is to be conducted. Advance preparation helps you be ready for any potential hiccups.

Follow the general Do’s and Don’ts

Like any other interview, always follow the standard rules and never deviate from it under any circumstances. There is a reason why those rules exist since decades and top personnel follow them; they work. Stick to them and you will be fine.

About Author

Sumair is a communication and crisis management specialist, with over 10 years’ experience and a diversified professional track record. Sumair has local and international experience of corporate communications, public relations & advocacy / lobbying for FMCG, telecommunication, banking, media & government organizations.Sumair’s other activities and interests include hosting radio shows, hosting numerous conferences, corporate events, & talk shows, travelling, history, philosophy, culture and hiking and mountaineering.

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