I love radio – listening to it and appearing on it. I love watching television too, but I’m not quite so keen about appearing on TV – not that I’m asked often. But radio? Yes, give me a radio appearance any day.
I’m still feeling tense about the recent TV recording Sue and I did – more of which when the programme is screened. Until then, our lips, brightly coloured and contoured by the make-up department, are sealed.
As well as having to perform well under bright studio lights and in front of a live audience, we had to take different outfits. The idea was that the wardrobe people would pick those which would look good under studio lights.
But for radio – well, it doesn’t really matter what you wear, does it? The audience can’t see you, but I still managed the half-hour panic I have every morning about what to put on. Smart dress? Tailored trousers? In the end, it was my usual combo of jeans and a white shirt.
We’d been invited to take part in BBC Radio Leeds book programme with host Andrew Edwards to talk about our first novel, A Falling Friend, and the follow up, A Forsaken Friend, to be published on March 21.
We were due at the studio at 2pm so Sue and I met for an editorial lunch and to plan what we’d say. But like many of our editorial lunches, we ended up talking about our general marketing plans for the Friends series, which is turning into a trilogy – and gossiping.
It is fun having a writing partner.
Radio’s hot – literally
We arrived at the BBC in Leeds, given passes to wear round our necks, and taken to the studio by one of the producers – who apologised that the air con had broken and it was ‘a little bit hot’ upstairs.
The fact it was one of winter’s coldest days mattered not. That studio was boiling despite the various fans dotted about the place to try and cool things down.
Sue and I flapped ourselves with newspapers to get a breeze going, but once Kate Bush and David Bowie had done their thing, we were on.
Andrew’s a great presenter and, professional that he is, he was interested in us and interesting to talk to. And he’d read the brief about Sue and I, so despite our having done very little preparation, we managed to get across everything we needed to say – and had a laugh too.
But, if you’re going to appear on radio, please don’t do as we did! It’s sensible to do a bit of preparation. Here are some tips:
- Know something about the programme you are appearing on. Catch up on a couple of previous episodes to get an idea of the subjects that are discussed and make sure the programme is relevant to you.
- If it’s a book programme, like the one we appeared on, who have the other authors been? What sort of books have been discussed? Were the authors able to read sections from their books?
- Take copies of your book with you. You might want to give some away to the production staff – you never know who they know and who they’ll talk to about your book. But you’ll definitely want to be photographed with the presenter – and the book.
- Find out how long your interview will last. This will give you an idea how much time you have to chat – and whether you have time to read sections from your book.
- Work out a concise and descriptive synopsis of your book. You might think you can do this off the top of your head – you wrote the thing, after all. But it’s amazing how tongue-tied or nervous you can become – and all plot and story lines will disappear in a brain fog. Write some notes and rehearse them, but avoid sticking tightly to the ‘script’ as it could sound over-rehearsed. For the same reason, avoid reading your notes on air – it doesn’t sound natural – just have them there as a security prop. And if you’re using notes, be careful: your sheets of paper might rustle as you’re leafing through them – and the mics will pick up every sound.
- Choose a couple of passages from your book that you’d feel happy and confident reading on air. Make sure you mark the passages so that you can find them quickly and easily. Before you start reading, put the passages in context ie explain briefly what led up to this point in the story. Keep it fairly short, and as entertaining as possible.
- Chat to the presenter before going on air. He or she will be busy, pressing buttons, shifting sliders, and doing all those technical things they do, but while a record is being played, you might have time to talk briefly about what you’d like to get across.
- Ask the presenter what sort of questions he or she will ask. Ask what the first question will be – this will help you prepare an answer. The best of us can be left tongue-tied if we’re dealt an unexpected opener.
- Have a glass of water handy. Nerves can make you dry-mouthed – and you don’t want your tongue sticking to your lips. Try not to spill anything over the expensive technical equipment!
- Don’t think about how many thousands of people might be listening. Talk to the presenter – he or she’s your audience.
- Don’t try to be clever or over-confident. Listeners recognise people who are being cocky.
- Be friendly.
- Smile – it’s amazing how smiling while you talk can animate your voice.
If you want to hear the programme we appeared on, listen here. You’ll need to flash forward for our section.