What Terrible Radio Guests Do (Part 1 of 2)
“The worst guest I ever interviewed was David Lawrence, one of the co-stars of the NBC show Heroes.”
So says Bob Andelman, a gifted and funny interviewer who has spoken with hundreds of radio guests over the past 30 years. He’s talked to a wide-range of stars, including Hollywood icons (Kirk Douglas), movie stars (Billy Bob Thornton), musicians (John Denver), journalists (Chris Matthews), and politicians (Dennis Kucinich).
“Heroes was not a show I was terribly interested in,” says Andelman. “Although I did watch the previous week’s episode, I didn’t watch the show the night before the interview, and everything about his character apparently changed. This guy raked me over the coals, and said I obviously didn’t watch the show. He was just the worst.”
I spoke with Mr. Andelman, host of Mr. Media Radio (unrelated to this website), earlier this week about the qualities that make for a dreadful radio guest. Here are three things terrible radio guests do:
- 1. Miss an Opportunity: Most interviewers aren’t experts in your field. It doesn’t matter how much your interviewer knows about your topic or how well they’ve prepared. Every interview is an opportunity to convey a message, and your communication should be aimed toward listeners, not the interviewer.
- “That was a situation where he had an opportunity to share with me why he loves what he did, what was exciting about it, maybe bring more people on – and instead, he handled it very differently,” says Andelman.
- 2. Give One-Word Answers: Few things frustrate an interviewer more than a guest who consistently gives one-word answers. Interviews are supposed to sound conversational, even if the spokesperson is sticking close to his talking points. Little is worse than a guest who gives mono-syllabic answers.
- “If it continues in that direction, I may just wrap up the interview in a matter of minutes,” says Mr. Andelman. “I’m just going to send them on their way.”
- 3. Leave Their Humor Behind: If the host tries to keep the show light and the guest refuses to play along, it’s deadly. “Little is worse than if I make a joke and there’s silence,” Andelman says. Unless humor is inappropriate to the topic, bring your sense of humor to an interview. That doesn’t mean you have to be a comedian – it just means you have to be willing to play along.