On the Radio

A lot of authors become unnecessarily stressed at the prospect of a radio interview. Maybe you hate the sound of your own voice. Maybe you think you’ll be asked a question for which you were not prepared and you’ll stutter and stammer and come off sounding like an idiot.

Well, you can relax. Those are the least of the things you ought to be worried about. The good news is that with radio, you have a lot of things working in your favor. For instance:
1. You don’t have to worry about shoveling out your Unabomber-type shack;
2. You don’t have to worry about your appearance. Go ahead, skip the shower. Do the interview in your bathrobe.
3. The only people listening to radio are behind the wheel of their automobiles, and they have other things to worry about—like texting friends.

There are basically two categories of radio interviews. The first (and most common) is where the interviewer has no idea who you are, has never read or even heard of your book and will likely ask you questions that have no bearing on anything remotely connected to you or your work.

The second type is where the interviewer has skimmed or actually read your book, completely misunderstood it and will likely ask you questions that have no bearing on anything remotely connected to you or your work.

Let’s run through a couple of scenarios so you can see what you are up against. I’ll use K.S. Brooks for purposes of illustration. Brooks is a veteran radio interviewee, so she knows how to get around this stuff, but that came through experience. Now she comes off polished, composed and professional. Still, her early interviews might have gone something like this:

INTERVIEWER: Welcome to BFD Radio and Author At Large with Bob Hammond. I’m your host, Bob Hammond. With me today is noted author T.S. Brooks to talk about her book, Colonel Fish’s Wonderland Adventure. Good Morning, T.S.”

BROOKS: Um, it’s not T, it’s K, and the book…

INTERVIEWER:Thanks Kay. Now let’s talk about your book. I haven’t read it, but I understand this is a book for children.

BROOKS: Yes, but the title of the book is…

INTERVIEWER: Now, why show a dog on the cover when the book is about a fish? Talk about that for a moment.

BROOKS: The book doesn’t have anything to do with fish, and the correct title is…

INTERVIEWER: Uh huh, uh huh…fascinating. We’ll be back with author G.S. Books to talk more about her children’s book about a magical fish after these words from our sponsor.

Now, you might think being interviewed by someone who knows nothing about you or your book is a worse-case scenario. You would be wrong. Let’s work through what it is like to be interviewed by someone who read your book and completely misunderstood it.

Author KS Brooks

INTERVIEWER: Welcome to BFD Radio and Author At Large with Bob Hammond. I’m your host, Bob Hammond. With me today is author and radical environmentalist K.S. Brooks to talk about her book, Mr. Pish’s Woodland Adventure. Good Morning, K.S.”

BROOKS: Radical environmentalist? I don’t know where you…

INTERVIEWER:Let’s cut right to the chase, Ms. Brooks. It’s hard to deny that your book is just one more tired attempt to inculcate our children in the message of radical environmentalism.

BROOKS: It’s a kid’s book about nature and…

INTERVIEWER: Well, isn’t that typical? You won’t even use the term “radical environmentalism.” You people don’t want to tip your hand, do you? I am stunned by the audacity of this left-wing diatribe dressed up in diapers with its hard-core anticapitalist undertones being sold to our children in the guise of some form of education. Let me ask you a question Ms. Brooks—where does the money go? To the Socialist Party? Or are you just another hypocrite pocketing the money for yourself while railing against so-called profiteering?

BROOKS: Oh my god! The funds go to the Arbor Day Foundation. The book…

INTERVIEWER: Sure they do. We’ll be back with author K.S. Books to talk more about her seedy communist connections and why she uses a white dog in her plot to brainwash our children after these words from our sponsor.

As as you can see, there is really nothing to fear from a simple radio interview. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Of course, that was probably just a publicity firm slogan.

Author: Stephen Hise

Stephen Hise is the Evil Mastermind and co-administrator of Indies Unlimited. Hise is an independent author and an avid supporter of the indie author movement. Learn more about Stephen at his website or his Amazon author page.

16 thoughts on “On the Radio”

  1. I am so glad my few radio interviews didn’t go THAT way. lol
    Even though the interviewers had not read my book, their questions were about me and writing in general. And those that were about my book allowed me to put it my own way. But I have heard, and seen some on TV that were more in that vein.
    I think a writer needs to listen to a few other interviews to get a sense of the slant the show takes. Then, if you think it will go poorly you have the option of politely declining.

    1. That is excellent advice, Yvonne. Rather than snatching up any opportunity for media exposure, it would pay to do the research necessary make sure you don’t end up on a “gotcha” show. Thanks for the comment.

      1. True…I actually did end up on a dreadful radio show where neither host looked at my media kit or actually even bothered to remember my name. They opened with “who’s our guest today?” and then talked about themselves the entire time. At one point one of them referred to Mr. Pish as “Mr. Fish, Pish, whatever.” I’d listened to a couple of their shows before my interview and knew what to expect and I was ready to roll with it. But man, talk about ignorant interviewers!

  2. That would be scary and I am one who doesn’t like my voice and I wouldn’t know what to say. But let’s say I wanted to do an interview, how do I go about setting one up, who do I approach at a radio station, would it be a good idea to send them a media kit/press release to get them to want to interview me and the list goes on, Stephen. Are you up for a challenge to find the answers to all my questions, lol.

    1. Jacqueline, those are excellent questions, but I am afraid we are all out of time. 😛

      Once every couple of weeks, we ask readers to post questions they’d like to see addressed in an article by our staff. Those posts are called “You Asked for It” and this would be a great topic for one of those.

  3. Funny…thanks. I’ve only done two, but they were generally good experiences. Good thing they were radio, so no one could see the panic sweat beading up on my forehead…

  4. Steve, I enjoyed reading your take on how to do a radio interview. You didn’t make a job performance interview that easy!!! LOL But, I like ya anyway!!! 🙂

  5. A very funny take on radio interviews, Steve. I must have been pretty lucky: I’ve had three radio interviews and they all went very well; all done by the ABC. Two interviews by one interviewer and one by another, both did their research; very professional interviewers. Two of the interviews were live, one in the radio station and one on the phone, the other was in the radio station, but recorded. I must admit that the phone interview was the easiest as I had all my notes, covering every conceivable question I might be asked, right there in front of me.

  6. This was so funny…and so sad. 🙂 What a horrible situation for an author to be in! Great article, Stephen. Here’s hoping fellow radio interviewers take note of it.

  7. OMG! Orson Welles used to be young! I’ve had some lousy radio interviews, but they still boosted the sales of my books.

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