Radio and TV interviews
Tips about getting an interview on the radio or TV, and what to say once you’re there.
Local radio stations are always looking for interesting local news, and it is relatively easy to get on the radio.
You can advertise events, talk about your organisation’s work, ask for volunteers or get coverage of an event you are putting on.
It can be harder to attract the attention of TV stations, but if you succeed you will reach a far wider audience. You are most likely to get coverage via the local news if you are doing or saying something that is considered to be very newsworthy and topical.
If you are interested in doing an interview, email a news release to your local radio or TV station, giving details of the event or issue you want to talk about. Then follow up your email with a phone call to the Newsdesk – be prepared to summarise the news release clearly and concisely, and if they want you to re-send the information, check what email address you should send it to.
Here are some tips which will help you to give a good interview:
- Think about the main points you want to make in advance. Note down the two or three things you think are the most important to get across, and concentrate on these. You won’t be able to fit in everything you want to say.
- Don’t have lots of notes, as you will just get confused shuffling through them. If you want to have something written down, use index cards to note down a few central facts and your main points.
- Practise with a friend before the interview, and ask them to be at the interview with you if possible.
- Listen to radio interviews and think about what works and what doesn’t. If you know who is going to interview you, try and listen to their programme and get a feel for their style.
- Some radio interviews are very short, usually only around 2 minutes, and the interviewer will be speaking for some of this. Other radio interviews will be longer. Ask the radio station in advance how long you will be expected to speak so that you can prepare something which is appropriate for the time you are given.
- You may not get much warning of when the interview will take place and may be asked to turn up very early in the morning.
- There may be a chance to have an informal chat with the interviewer or researcher before you go on air. Ask them what questions they plan to ask you.
- The interviewer will be as keen as you for the interview to go smoothly – it reflects badly on them if it doesn’t. Generally they are not trying to catch you out.
Some essential do’s and don’ts
- Turn your mobile off before you start.
- Try to relax! Take several deep breaths before the interview begins. Everyone gets nervous, but it’s usually easier once the interview gets started.
- Try to sound enthusiastic and positive, not defensive or aggressive. Smile when you are talking (it makes your voice sound nicer and you feel more relaxed).
- Talk naturally and simply. Try and imagine you are talking to a friend.
- Mention your website and any events that you have coming up.
- Don’t drink or eat while talking, and don’t go to the pub beforehand (listeners will be able to tell).
- Don’t fidget, tap your pen on the table or rustle papers.
- Don’t swear.
Different sorts of interviews
In the studio
If you are asked to go into the radio or TV station to give an interview, someone will meet you on arrival and go through the process with you.
On the phone
Sometimes you can give a radio interview over the phone from your home. The radio station will ring you, and you just talk into the phone as normal.
In your own home or office, or at an event you are organising
The radio or TV station may offer to come to a venue that suits you. If they do this make sure you choose somewhere that is quiet, and where you will not get any interruptions. If you want your event to be heard in the background, make sure that it is not so loud that you have to shout to be heard.
For radio interviews you may be asked to use a self-operating studio. This is a small studio containing a table, chair, microphone, small control panel and telephone. You will be called on the phone by the programme maker, who will explain what happens next and which buttons to press. It can be nerve-wracking sitting alone in the studio waiting for the phone to ring. Breathe deeply, look at your notes, keep calm and you will be fine once the interview starts.
Updated September 2015