A Novelist’s Journey, Episode 7: “We’re Live in 3, 2, 1…” – Tips for Doing Great Radio Interviews


God bless the power of Twitter. Really.

I thought I was too old and too un-hip to use it. But once I started, I began to see its incredible usefulness.

I met a pretty cool guy on it. He’s the host of a jazz radio show at Stony Brook University in New York.

George Rudolph, radio host extraordinaire, found me through Twitter (@jazzauthor). He introduced me to an endless list of jazz artists who have appeared/will appear on this blog, and then he invited me on his show.

WUSB Radio interview “All Things Jazz”-George Rudolph with Debbie Burke

While there is obviously great overlap in how to do a radio vs. TV vs. newspaper interview, the following tips are specific to the world of radio.

  1. Send your interviewer bullet points at least a week ahead of your interview. Be succinct!
  2. A good host who knows his/her craft will have an outline for YOU, but with your bullet points in hand, he can create an outline that aligns with your subject matter. Unless it’s investigative journalism, interviewers are not out to trip you. They want a smooth interview too!
  3. Practice your talking points with your friends, your spouse, your dog. Just as you sound conversational with them, so should your interview go.
  4. Know that it won’t go exactly as planned and that’s okay. Your interviewer can become inspired and take another track. While you can’t predict what curves he might throw, you can make your way back by being calm and tying it to more familiar territory. And sometimes, you just have to go with it.
  5. Mention your website or blog address, your book or CD title, and who published or produced it.
  6. Don’t forget to thank the host for interviewing you, both at the start of the interview and when you wrap things up.
  7. A little thank you is definitely called for. Without this, you are – to be blunt – only a self-promoting user and may not be invited back or referred to other media outlets. Send a hand-written note or card (not an email) thanking them. If you feel like doing more, send a plate of cookies or a box of chocolates to the studio. Hungry people work there! This keeps the door open for future opportunities.
  8. Post to social media and cross-promote copiously, with generous links to their media outlet. The host should be able to get you an mp3 file.
  9. Return the favor. Refer other interesting people to your interviewer, who, just like you, is always looking for new material.
  10. Lastly, have fun. Your smile comes through your voice. Enjoy the experience so listeners will too.

(c) Debbie Burke 2017

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