Top Tips to Prepare for a Radio Interview

Part one of this series established the importance of television activation for successful thought leadership, public affairs, and brand awareness campaigns. In the second and final part of this broadcast interview series, we’ll look at television’s older, yet very much alive and well, sister: radio. Whether you’re among the rising number of Americans who tune in online or you prefer old-fashioned terrestrial listening, radio continues to be a primary source of news consumption in the United States.

A recent Pew Research Center survey showed that 44 percent of adults learned about the 2016 U.S. presidential election from radio each week. And while monthly online radio listenership has more than doubled since 2010, Pew finds traditional AM/FM radio to still be the most common form of in-car listening by a large margin.

Surprising as it may be in our technologically evolving world, radio engagement continues to be a germane strategy for a wide range of communications campaigns. Armed with the below foundational radio interview tips (some of which dovetail with our list of TV tips), you’ll be sure to deliver a compelling message to audio news consumers near and far.

    • First, clarify whether your interview will be pre-taped or live. This will dictate your preparation and should therefore be the first question you ask before any radio interview. While producers will usually specify the format up front, this can sometimes fall through the cracks or change at the last minute.

Tips for Live Interviews

    • Familiarize yourself with the host and confirm the interview length. If you’re being interviewed on a show with multiple hosts, ask the producer in advance which host you will be speaking with and how long the interview is likely to last so you can tailor your delivery accordingly.
    • Practice your talking points out loud. No one ever won the hearts and minds of radio listeners without at least a hint of charm. In order to optimize your message delivery, practice your talking points out loud with the goals of authenticity, brevity, and clarity (ABCs) in mind. Focusing on the ABCs will make you more relatable (read: likable).
    • Clear and cogent delivery is especially critical in radio. The visual dimension of television can help to humanize guests, and thus make it a more forgiving platform than radio (depending, of course, on the interview subject). Absent of any visual context, your voice – and message – is all you have in the world of audio news. This means that you should not only hone your messages ahead of time, but draw liberally on helpful pivot and summary phrases such as, “The most important thing to remember is…,” to drive your key points home.
    • Tune in before your interview. You will sound more on-the-ball if you’re able to allude to points made previously in the program, especially if the earlier segments relate to your interview topic. Arrive early if your interview is in-person, and ask a producer if you can listen to the program before you go on-air. If your interview is by phone, be sure you know which station to tune into leading up to your hit time.
    • Treat the host like a friend. As in television, when it comes to winning over an audience, projecting confidence and ease is half the battle. Most radio hosts are warm, agreeable people. After all, it’s their job to make you talk. By approaching your radio interview as no more than a chat with a friend, you will sound more comfortable and genuine.

Tips for Pre-Recorded Interviews

  • Take advantage of the opportunity to rephrase your thoughts. A large portion of radio interviews are pre-recorded, which means you can pause, regroup, and reframe your thoughts at any point. In fact, production teams often appreciate when guests sharpen their message while the tapes are rolling because it means less time for them in the edit suite later on.
  • Don’t take editing personally. More often than not, pre-taped radio interviews will last far longer than they will during broadcast. Don’t take this personally. The process of distilling down your 20-minute meandering conversation into a crisp three-minute segment will actually make you sound smarter in the end.


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