Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #314 – How to Make Interviews and Phone Calls Not Suck

It’s not exactly a news flash that most recorded interviews and phone calls are pretty much a big yawn. Here’s why:

Pressed for time, it’s easy to let things slide. With an artist interview, a lot of people think they’re sacrosanct – you shouldn’t edit them too severely, because the artist is deigning to speak to you from the mountain top.

But of course, the truth is that most musical artists are mediocre to terrible interviews, going through the motions because the label told them they need to do them, and they don’t know anything about radio. So they speak to “the fans” or “the people out there” or “you guys” – plural terms that, by definition, can’t come across as one-on-one – or they treat the listeners like they’re just faceless members of a teeming throng that’s only there to fawn over them and buy tickets to the show. They don’t mean to come across like this; they just haven’t been taught anything. So we get the “Hello, Cleveland!” mentality. (I’m not Cleveland. I’m just me.)

Phone calls, for some reason, aren’t held to high standards by most jocks either. Most on-air people think that everything needs to be “self-contained” in the call, when in reality, you can say something LIVE, you know, then just use a short excerpt from the call that adds more. Rinse and repeat, using only the best sound bites from the call.

Artist interview clips, like phone calls, are just the raw materials. The finished product is only present after you’ve taken out redundancies, and made everything concise. And in my experience of working with hundreds of stations and somewhere around 1700 individual air talents, only about 3% of them take the time to do the editing required to make an interview or listener call MEMORABLE.

Edit. Then edit again. Rearrange portions of the audio if you need to, so it makes sense and flows forward. It only takes a couple of minutes to turn “average” into “excellent”. HONE YOUR CRAFT. It’ll make a huge difference.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #186 – How long should an Interview last?

If you wonder about how long interviews should last, the quick answer is “It should end before I want to kill the guest.”

Seriously, in practical terms, plan on ONE segment. Anything past that should earn its way onto the air by adding something new and compelling to the interview.

Remember, an interview’s purpose isn’t to drum up business for the guest. It’s to make the guest come across as interesting enough or entertaining enough for me (as a listener) to even CARE about what they’re pushing, whether it’s a new album, concert, movie, charity, etc.

And I’d recommend never having a guest on for more than an hour, no matter who it is.

No doubt you’ve heard “leave the listener wanting more,” but not all air talents have the discipline to really do it. The minute you find yourself checking the clock to see how soon this segment will be over, you should have already ended it.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #28: Interview tip – Fit it into the show

It’s such a sell-out when someone on a music station has an interview with an artist, and all of a sudden, the radio station and the host just turn into shills for the recording industry. Nothing is more boring than those “So, when does the new CD come out?” and “Where’s the next stop on your tour?” questions, and their lame, predictable answers.

Don’t settle for that pap. Make sure that your interviews have the same entertainment and personality elements as the rest of your show. Have FUN with the interview.

Here’s an example: One time when I was doing a Morning Drive team show on a Country station, my partner and I learned that a singer we were interviewing had a dog that would “sing” along with him, baying and howling while he sang. When we had him on the show a couple of days before he played in a station-sponsored concert, we made sure to have him go get his dog while we had him on the phone, and got the two of them to “sing” together on the air! It was a hoot, and gave the Listener a reason to really like him, since it was so human; so real. It was revealing, and more importantly, it was anti-music business “hype.”

Another thought: If you have something going on that hour, try to get the guest to fit into what the show’s already doing. Bring the guest in as a sort of “co-host” when you can. I used to write things for the guest to do within the framework of the show. They always loved it. (Think about it. They don’t usually get to do that sort of thing.)

Give your listener something to remember when you have a guest on. (A by-product of this is that the artist has fun, forms a little positive opinion of you that he or she files away for the future, and then looks forward to being on with you again the next time.)

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2013 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.