Helpful Tips for Radio Interviews

Radio Interviews MUST be Entertaining
Radio Interviews MUST be Entertaining

You have worked hard to get a radio interview for your Christian band. You have done the marketing and promoted the show, so people will be listening. But as you are driving to the interview, you panic with the realization that you have no idea what to expect, what to say, or how to say it. You don’t want to embarrass yourself or the band with the host of the show or with your audience. What is expected from you as the guest on the show? How do you conduct an interview that sounds professional and is so intriguing as to cause fans to come out to your Christian bands gigs?

Rule #1:

Never, Never, Never be boring.

Everything else that follows in this post are helpful tips. But, Rule #1 is a RULE. Don’t break it. Radio is an entertainment industry. If you are not entertaining, if you don’t have something important to say, if you are not fun… don’t bother. You won’t be asked back and the interview won’t be remembered by anyone except you. Instead, be interesting. Be memorable. Reach out and captivate your audience by design – don’t leave it up to chance. Plan to be the most talked about part of each of your listeners’ day.

So, here’s some tips to help you along the way to an interesting, professional interview:

Send a one-sheet to the producer or host of the show in advance. This information will introduce you to the host and provide a little background. They need to feel they know about you and your ministry to buy-in to your music. If they become a fan and convey that to the listeners, you have an open door to begin to connect with the audience.

Talk to the host prior to the interview about your introduction. The first few seconds of any radio interview are like the first few measures of a song – most listeners will engage or not almost immediately. The host will probably use the one-sheet to create your on air introduction unless you give them something else to use. So, work with them to come up with something that captures the audience and sets the tone for the rest of the interview. If you do not have the opportunity to talk to the host in the days leading up to the interview (which is common), send introduction suggestions with your one-sheet or, in very casual interviews, arrive at the radio interview with several suggestions.

Send a list of 10 questions you would like the host to ask you with your one-sheet and introduction suggestions. Most often they won’t ask every question and they will add questions of their own, but it will help you get the interview started and set the overall direction for the show.

Plan your answers to the prepared questions. Talk in sound bites – your answers should be just a few sentences or about 20 seconds per question. You can say a lot in 20 seconds, most commercials are 30 seconds. If you feel more comfortable, write down the answers to each question on a 3×5 card to take in the studio.

Practice mock interviews. Give a friend the questions you prepared and ask them to ask you a few other questions. If your radio interview will be done on the phone, conduct it that way. If the real interview will be in person, then meet your mock interviewer in person.

Dress to impress. That means dress like a professional musician in your genre. You will be seen by industry professionals if you are doing the interview in the studio. Don’t be fooled, these people may be dressed very casually in the studio but they are usually well connected to other industry professionals. Make a memorable impression on them. Dressing the part also boosts your self image. It’s a lot easier to think and act like an interesting, creative musician when you feel good about your appearance.

Arrive at the studio 15 minutes earlier than the host or producer requested. You do not have to go in the office right away. Use this time to prepare yourself: take a deep breath or two if you are nervous, go over the answers to your questions quickly, pray, go to the restroom… do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable.

Speak with exaggerated tones. In normal life people can see the expression on your face to help them understand your emotions. On the radio you must exaggerate your voice to convey the same amount of emotion. Talk larger than life.

Talk in a normal, consistent volume. Don’t yell, don’t whisper. Adding more volume for emphasis does not work well either. Use the tone of your voice, not volume to express emotion. The engineer will do a brief sound check prior to the interview to set the mic levels. He does not expect to have to ride the sliders to control the level of your voice.

Use a landline for a phone interview. The signal is clearer and sounds better on the air. Cell phones tend to pick up static and background noise. Additionally, you run the risk of dropping the call, which really makes you look unprofessional.

Be grateful to the host and station for the opportunity to do the interview. Say so on the air. Say so off the air before leaving. Make the station look good to the public and the host feel good about spending time with you.

Sound check live music. If you hope to perform a song on the air make sure you ask the station ahead of time. They will need to do a sound check (in addition to the vocal check) prior to the show. We’ve all heard live songs that just didn’t broadcast well – don’t be “one of those”.

If you really want to make an impression, bring a gift. Everyone loves perks, even radio station staff.  A plate full of homemade chocolate chip cookies or a box of assorted breakfast muffins works well. Bring something to demonstrate to the station staff that you appreciate them. You will instantly have their attention.

Tell the truth without exaggeration. Anytime you stretch the truth, make up facts or boast about yourself, you lose friends… on and off the air. You cannot afford to gain a bad reputation.

Practice doing interviews on smaller stations first. You will feel more comfortable and risk less if you do make a mistake. Work your way up to the larger stations as you feel ready. But do not treat the people at the small stations as less important. Small, local stations have vital ministries within their communities. Often these people will transition to the larger stations and be your connections to better radio interviews.

These quick and easy tips should make radio interviews easy for you! Do you have experience with interviews and want to share your tips? Leave a comment.

For more information about radio interviews from Christian Band Help click on the links within this post.

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