“The worst guest I ever interviewed was David Lawrence, one of the co-stars of the NBC show Heroes.”
So says Bob Andelman, a gifted and funny interviewer who has spoken with hundreds of radio guests over the past 30 years. He’s talked to a wide-range of stars, including Hollywood icons (Kirk Douglas), movie stars (Billy Bob Thornton), musicians (John Denver), journalists (Chris Matthews), and politicians (Dennis Kucinich).
“Heroes was not a show I was terribly interested in,” says Andelman. “Although I did watch the previous week’s episode, I didn’t watch the show the night before the interview, and everything about his character apparently changed. This guy raked me over the coals, and said I obviously didn’t watch the show. He was just the worst.”
I spoke with Mr. Andelman, host of Mr. Media Radio (unrelated to this website), earlier this week about the qualities that make for a dreadful radio guest. Here are three things terrible radio guests do:
- 1. Miss an Opportunity: Most interviewers aren’t experts in your field. It doesn’t matter how much your interviewer knows about your topic or how well they’ve prepared. Every interview is an opportunity to convey a message, and your communication should be aimed toward listeners, not the interviewer.
- “That was a situation where he had an opportunity to share with me why he loves what he did, what was exciting about it, maybe bring more people on – and instead, he handled it very differently,” says Andelman.
- 2. Give One-Word Answers: Few things frustrate an interviewer more than a guest who consistently gives one-word answers. Interviews are supposed to sound conversational, even if the spokesperson is sticking close to his talking points. Little is worse than a guest who gives mono-syllabic answers.
- “If it continues in that direction, I may just wrap up the interview in a matter of minutes,” says Mr. Andelman. “I’m just going to send them on their way.”
- 3. Leave Their Humor Behind: If the host tries to keep the show light and the guest refuses to play along, it’s deadly. “Little is worse than if I make a joke and there’s silence,” Andelman says. Unless humor is inappropriate to the topic, bring your sense of humor to an interview. That doesn’t mean you have to be a comedian – it just means you have to be willing to play along.
Click here to see Part Two of this interview, the four great things radio guests do.
You can hear Mr. Andelman’s interviews here.