Writing in Stereo

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WiS II Lesson Eight - the Interview

September 2nd, 2010

Before the Interview

Know all sides of the issue.  Don't assume listeners know the history of the subject. Be sure the guest is the right person for the interview on this topic.  (The only way to know might be to ask him/her.)  Know your technical requirements for the interview.  (Are the mikes in the right places?  Do you need help running the board?)  Help the guest to feel comfortable.

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The Shape of a Studio Interview

Beginning - Always wear your headphone.  Set up the interview by introducing the guest.  Share that history of the subject or guest's background.  Be factual, objective, and polite-even if you disagree with the guest.  Have a very good first question.  Keep your questions open-that means no "yes" or "no" questions.  Ask "Why" and "How" questions.  Think of your listeners.  What do they  want to know?

Middle - Develop a rapport ("ruh-pore") with the guest.  Keep the interview focused.  Keep the listener a "willing eavesdropper."  Get information here on the meaning of the subject of discussion.  Let the guest talk.  Let him/her say what he/she has to say.  Then ask them what you want to know.  Your most important quality as an interviewer is your ability to listen.  Although it's not a bad idea to write difficult questions out, try to sound conversational.  Be yourself.  Be excited.  Don't be afraid to jump to an appropriate question.  Repeat guest's name and topic:  "We're here talking with ... about ...".  Minimize prep for the next technical cue:  it distracts the guest.  Use gesture signals to communicate.

End - Wrap up the main point.  Promote whatever the guest wants promoted-an appearance, a program or campaign or a service, whatever.  Thank them for joining you on the air.  Play some music.

The above material was created by Michael Landwehr, Program Director KXCI Community Radio, 2000

Now it's your turn.  Work with a partner.  First, spend a few minutes discussing some important aspects of your partner's life, hobbies, family, pets, etc.  See if you two can find something truly unusual experience he or she may have had.  Then decide how best to narrow a practice interview to focus on just one interesting aspect of their life, past and current day-to-day.  Maybe the one unusual experience is all you'll need.writingpractice.jpg

Let's suppose your partner will speak to a small assembly of several classes about his or her experience(s).  That will be the event your partner is here to promote.

When you're ready, use a tape recorder to tape an interview with your partner.  The class will listen and discuss it.