I make a living out of helping you succeed in your media interviews. It’s something I love to talk about.

But like everyone, sometimes I forget my own advice. Like on New Year’s Day, when I was interviewed on radio.

Radio is one of the most difficult and interesting platforms to be interviewed on. It is the conversational of all the media platforms and to be successful, you need to adapt your style to that particular station. The style you use with ABC Radio National’s Hamish McDonald will be very different to the approach you take with Talking Lifestyle’s Jane Hall.

The type of story matters as well. Soft news stories will be purely conversational, like two friends chatting. Hard news radio interviews have moments of warm conversational tones, but also have disturbing facts and questions thrown in without notice.

On New Year’s Day, I was interviewed by Talking Lifestyle on media trends for 2018.  And while they were very complimentary and thankful afterwards, I knew that I didn’t get it quite right.

So learn from my mistakes. If you’re looking to nail your next radio interview, here are three actions you can take:

  1. Listen to the station before your interview

Probably my biggest downfall was that I didn’t listen to the station I was going to be interviewed on. I had never heard of the Talking Lifestyle program, but I didn’t think it would be too different to previous radio interviews. So I approached it as if I was still working at the ABC and assertively made all my points, like a journalist. But if I had tuned in before the interview, I would have known that what they wanted was a laidback conversation. I probably sounded like a person who was trying to say everything at once when I should have let my key points come out with the flow of the interview.

  1. Pick a topic and stick with it

I made the mistake of attempting to change the interview topic on the morning of the interview. I originally agreed to talk about mainstream topics like Lisa Wilkinson’s new job on The Project, but later decided it was a bit lightweight. The producers assured me that we could make the change and that the presenter had my revised information, so I prepared for the interview based on that.  But as soon as Jane started her introduction, I knew we were still on the old topic. So if you’d rather not deal with the unknown, keep the topic you choose.

  1. Be prepared to stand for something.

It’s OK to disagree with a presenter and have a different point of view; in fact, it’s entertaining. Jane made the point that Channel Nine really should have allowed Lisa Wilkinson one more show to say goodbye to her fans. I disagreed. The interview was so conversational, and Jane was so lovely that I almost made the mistake of just agreeing with her because I liked her.

But I didn’t. I said that the only person to benefit from that would have been Lisa, as another appearance would have simply promoted her new network and given more air time to the reason she left, again highlighting Nine’s gender pay gap issue. Lisa played her cards perfectly and it was time to leave. I think Jane was a little taken back that I didn’t consider her view in my response at all. She simply said, “Okay”, and we moved onto the next topic.

If I had agreed to be nice or polite, I would have become an audience member, not an expert. The media isn’t looking for sit-on-the-fence types. If you have a different opinion on a subject, make that clear.

Radio interviews are easy – if you go in prepared.

It was great to put myself in the hot seat and be the interviewee for a change. Being a former journalist, I’m used to asking the questions, so sitting back and waiting for my turn to respond was a surprising challenge. But it reminded me that it’s all about being prepared and staying the course.

So the next time you’re asked for a radio interview, think of me and make sure you’re prepared.


Have you heard a radio interview that didn’t sound quite right?

Tell us below in the comments section.

Want to get your staff media-ready?

We provide media training led by experienced journalist Tony Nicholls, who has covered international stories and worked for many of Australia’s major news networks. Find out more about the types of media training we offer here.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.


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