Oftentimes there are topical events that arise which require a different perspective on the radio. These can be political, health or international news stories – but with the insight of an expert, your station can offer listeners the highest quality coverage.
How can you gain an advantage by ‘expertly’ interviewing an industry expert on your topical programmes?
There are 10 steps to follow to equip yourself with the skills and understanding to conduct an insightful, entertaining interview with an expert. These steps have been compiled by top radio people across the UK, Africa, as well as Farm Radio International.
Once you have successfully invited a relevant interviewee to your show, you should:
1) Prepare yourself and your staff
Do some research on your guest and their field of expertise. Pass on any relevant information to your staff well in advance. Also, prepare your questions carefully in order to guide the interview – this is to prevent the interviewee dominating the programme.
2) Prepare the expert
It is courtesy to let the guest know what you will ask them, and how long the interview will be. Avoid persistently interrupting unnecessarily, and always exhibit body language that shows you are interested.
3) Introductions and Conclusions | On-air and Off-air
Before introducing the interviewee, smile at them and establish an off-air rapport. When introducing them, thank them for joining you and then impress your audience with a brief overview of their work. It is in your interest to boast about their credentials as they have chosen to speak at your station ahead of your competitors. To conclude the interview, summarise the points the expert made – or even prompt them to do so.
4) Use good interviewing techniques
Think of it as a one-to-one conversation. The best stations have the expert speaking for no more than a few minutes at a time between interactions. It is the presenter’s responsibility throughout the interview to make sure the audience understand the points discussed.
5) Every expert is different
The myth within radio is that scientific experts are the best at on-air interviews. The truth is that some experts are very skilled interviewees; others aren’t. Brief them before the interview on what to expect, as they may not be prepared for your interruptions as you seek clarification for example. A Profanity Delay system is highly recommended in case of any live, on-air errors made by your guest.
If your guest gives you indirect or evasive answers, sometimes rephrasing the question will solve this issue. If they are still avoiding giving you an answer, try and use your audience as a motive for them to answer, e.g. “but what I think is more important for our listeners to know is…”
7) Conflicts of interest
Does your guest have a biased interest towards your programme’s topic? Perhaps they work for a company which may lose, or benefit from a particular news story or development? It is the presenter’s responsibility to make sure the audience know this. Brief your guest off-air about this responsibility. For sensitive topics, use your Profanity Delay system to prevent any perceived hate speech or anti-government comments.
8) Navigating traditional customs
It is the presenter’s responsibility to be aware of any cultural customs or barriers prohibiting full communication during a radio interview. Sometimes a particular greeting native to the guest is all that is needed.
Always introduce women the same way you would a man – and avoid introducing women by referring to their relationship to men (mother, wife etc.).
10) Build the relationship
Post-interview, staying in regular contact with your expert will be of great benefit to both yourselves and your station. Discuss with them ways you can tackle emerging issues that they feel strongly about.
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