I’ve been interviewed by some excellent journalists, questioned by idiots who didn’t really want the answer to the question, and have endeavored over the years to improve, polish and modify my own interview technique to fit the “environment” of the interview.
What I mean by environment is this: the tone texture and questions will depend, in great part,on the nature of the program in which the interview takes place – yet the basic techniques will not alter. You don’t ask a question that can be answered “yes” or “no,” you don’t give the answer and ask if the other person agrees (a variant on the yes/no issue), nor do you ask questions that are convoluted nonsense. During a live call-in show on KRKO-AM on which I was the guest, a caller asked this question: “Why don’t you admit that you are in league with the devil, and get it over with?” That isn’t a question, it’s an editorial statement. I answered it as politely as i could.
The best interviewers get the person they are interviewing to tell stories, and you do that by already knowing the story, and then prompting them to tell it rather than you. For example, my friend Magic Matt Alan has a great story about the famed Orson Welles and he together at the Magic Castle. Instead of asking “Did you ever meet Orson Welles?” (this could get the answer “Yes.” and that’s it) You could ask “Hey, I heard that when you were with Orson Welles at the Magic Castle, you didn’t realize he was a famous director.. (pause prompt)
Matt, being a pro, will immediately know to tell the story — and it is a great story!
Contrast Tom Snyder (may he rest in peace) — the most frustrating interviewer on the planet -= with Paul Ryan (Not the politician, but the acting/comedy coach). Paul is the best interviewer I have ever seen in action. He is so well prepared, so completely in sync with the mood and character of his subject, that watching him interview someone is, for those of us who are impressed by such things, akin to watching Picasso paint or Marlon Brando act.
Honest enthusiasm makes a big difference, and suppressed hostility is ALWAYS perceived by both the guest and the audience.
Matt Alan is wonderful when it comes to enthusiasm — for a good example, listen to him with famed songwriter PF SLOAN.
On True Crime Uncensored, my style is modified to fit the “environment” — as one listener stated, I sound like an “arrogant asshole.” I assure you that I am not arrogant, it is all an act to counterpoint Howard Lapides who, of course, IS arrogant, but as they say, “if you’ve really done it, it’s not bragging.”
The Great Don Woldman was my former co-host on the show, and you will modify YOUR style depending on the style of your co-host. If you listen to some of the shows Don and I did together you can hear the difference in how I relate to him vs how I relate to Howard. Don and I are often heard together on TRUE CRIME CLASSICS on Seatacmedia.com Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at 8pm Pacific Time.