Guest What?

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If you were to ask anyone in the entertainment industry who their favorite person to interview is they’d all have an answer. Now, if you were to ask the casual listener what their favorite interview was they might have to take a minute to answer.  Why is that?

In this Bailey’s Big Blog I’ll explain that as well as break down the comparisons between interviewing someone on the radio vs podcasting.

Trust to be told. I hate calling them “interviews.” I much prefer “conversations.”  I also believe the best sell is the no sell. Each and to their own. Whatever works for you, right?  And for the purpose of this read I’ll bite my tongue and call them….uggghhh “interviews.”

First, let’s go back to the beginning paragraph and answer the question.  The radio person is just doing their job by airing the interviews. They kind of have to believe that all of them are good because they’ll get a lot. The listener on the other hand is very rarely impressed with the guests that are on the radio. Of course there are exceptions to the rules like Howard. He always gets a pass for his interviews but very rarely they’re not good.  But, he also is who he is. A celebrity being a fan of the celebrity just like we’d do.  That style is brilliant and self-deprecating.   

The listener wants to hear everything they would ask. If that doesn’t happen and happen fast then they’re OUT! From the radio side that’s tough to do. Most of the time, talk show or not, you’re only getting 8-10 minutes with the guest. The guest is doing a ton of interviews back to back and would say, “They keep getting asked the same questions over and over.” That’s because the radio person is just doing their job for their audience. Promoting whatever it is you want to promote then maybe get into some more “fun” stuff like, “Did you really release a sex tape with your stepmother?”  

I love interviews. I really do. But I hate interviews at the same time. This coming from a broadcaster’s perspective. I would love to talk to these people that I was a fan of but because of the aforementioned stuff I couldn’t really get anywhere most of the time. Then add in babysitting a room and trying to feed numerous mouths. Yeah, you see what I’m getting at?  That 8 to 10 minutes goes fast and you the listener didn’t really get shit out of it. 

Now, in podcasting I’ve found this whole experience to be totally different and refreshing.  If done right, these interviews can be amazing. I’ve always been a fan of interviewing people with a unique and interesting story vs the celebrity popping their new movie or line of socks.  That’s the good stuff in my opinion and that’s the good stuff the audience wants to hear as well.  

I’ve also learned that guests feel A LOT more comfortable in the podcast format than on the radio.  Not sure why that’s the case.  Is it that they don’t think it’s real? Or maybe not enough people will hear it?  Who knows and I don’t care just as long as it’s good. 

We’ve been able to find unique people with great stories. Some celebs and some mostly not.  The who, what, when, where and how technique is a no fail interview method.  It’s like I always say to young people in the business, “Always file 5 things.”  That’s Improv 101. I took improv classes back in the 90’s at Zoe and Company in Winter Park, FL. Sidenote, Mandy Moore is an alum. Anyway, I’ll never forget the “file 5 things” method. It can help anyone!  The exercise was to explain to someone that you are at the beach without saying a thing and you only have 30 seconds to do it.  Your brain must instantly file 5 things about the beach. Ok, sand in my eye, sand in the towel, building a sand castle, watch out for the seagull, pull down my glasses because of the beautiful baby walking by, BAM, DONE!  I can act those out without saying a word and you’ll guess that I’m at the beach.  Same thing with interviews. The problem is on the radio side most times you can only get to 25% of that because of time.

Most radio people think that every interview they do is great.  There are different types of radio interviews.  1) You have the live, anything goes, no edits, it is what is and will go for as long as it’s a good interview.  Personally, that’s my favorite. 2) The chop up pre recorded interviews that’ll air in parts between songs with just soundbites. 3) The in-studio that can be under both of 1 and 2 but sound different (usually better) because you’re facing each other.  Again, if it works, it works.

Podcasting is really the same thing but just is more comfortable, relaxed, chill and thought provoking. I’ve yet had an interview on The Bailey Show Podcast go roque or even bad that we didn’t release.  I know, give it some time, right?  But, I’ve had plenty of them in the radio world.  Let’s take a look back at the top 3, shall we?

  1. John Frusciante in the early 2000’s tops my list.  I was doing nights on a rock station in Orlando where the Red Hot Chili Peppers were performing, I think that night. John had just rejoined the band after fighting some demons. His label asked me not to bring up his drug use. Not a problem. I didn’t. He did! Then blamed me for doing it. Weird, weird, weird. He screamed at me for a good 3 minutes then hung up. All together about a 7 minute interview with 4 minutes being pretty good talking rock, RHCP etc.  His record rep called immediately afterwards and asked me not to air the interview.  What do you think I did?  Yeah, of course I aired it. 
  2. James Hetfield of Metallica, again in the early 2000’s.  Truth be told this isn’t James’ fault. This one is all me.  They’re in town for The Summer Sanitarium Tour and I’m locked in this trailer with him, his large handler and my promo guy, Josh.  I just started Rock radio so I had been partying all day. You know, living the gimmick. Plus, the fellas from The Deftones wanted to get high while I was interviewing them. What do you do, right?  By the time I get to James I’m a little wobbly. Thinking that’s how it’s done and he’ll be cool with it. What my research didn’t tell me was that he just got out of rehab!  Yeah, I’m an asshole!  That and the fact the batteries in my mini-disc player died halfway through. So unprofessional. But, it’s a story that I’ll never forget and a lesson learned. Always check the last time your guest went to rehab if you want to interview them drunk and high.

  3. George Thorogood, what a dick! Not much to say. I was a fan. I was excited. But, the interview was a trainwreck because he just flat out didn’t want to do it. I’ve since turned him down twice since that time in the late 2000’s. 

I’m sure as I continue this podcasting thing I’ll have stories like I have over almost 30 years in radio and you know what?  I can’t wait!  

In closing, guests are an important part of entertaining an audience.  That’s why late night TV talk shows are mostly all about guests. They act a bit differently than when they’re doing radio or podcasting but still important. This is where I explain why I use “conversation” vs “interview.”  The key to conducting a good “interview” is to make it a “conversation.”  Letterman, Stern are some of the best.  Just sounds like you’re in the room with them.  

And that my friend is what makes you listen and remember, the conversation.


Jason Bailey 

Host /Creator / The Bailey Show Podcast


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