The State of Things
Identifying potential guests is a skill, and one particular to our brand of journalism. A guest should, above all else, be “a good talker.” A guest must be able to express ideas clearly, concisely and with some authority. If you are confused or don’t understand what a potential guest is saying, neither will our listeners. If a guest meets the “good talker” standard, the next step is to get enough information out of him or her to determine what she or he might say when asked a wide variety of questions. It’s important to note that you don’t necessarily need to ask each and every question. Depending on the role we want a guest to play, a pre-interview should be as short as possible. We don’t want a guest to leave their game on the phone.
At the end of a pre-interview, either book the guest or say goodbye. If you choose to book the guest, ask them to arrive (or be available) 10-15 minutes before we want them on the air. If they will be on the phone, get a land line (not a cell phone). If they are a key guest, we may want to get them into an ISDN studio. These are questions we can answer at the next available staff meeting. If there is more than one guest for a segment, use your journalistic sensibility as to what views we would want to make sure are presented. Not every viewpoint has to be heard, but we have to do our due diligence to bring various views to the topic.
A folder of all relevant background information should be handed to the host no later than 24 hours prior to the segment/show airing, or on Friday afternoon for a Monday program. It should include any and all articles that a producer deems important or might come up in a conversation. Any additional information that is collected after that time should also be shared with the host.