Interviewing people live on radio is what I do: I would say it’s the most enjoyable thing about the job and it’s a skill that’s taken many years to hone. Sometimes however I’ve found myself on the other side of the mic or desk, facing a journalist with a pad-full of questions for me. Last week for example we had a group of about thirty Chinese exchange-students visiting the studio. They were accompanied by two interpreters and a journalist from Hangzhou Magazine. ‘A taste of one’s own medicine’ comes to mind as she began firing questions that were really quite difficult to answer, remembering of course to be as diplomatic as possible. How does one explain why we don’t play more Chinese music or will the opening ceremony at the 2012 Olympics in London be more spectacular than the previous games in Beijing? The classic ‘who is the most famous person you’ve ever met, left me in a bit of a quandary, as not many of these children had heard of Sir Paul McCartney so I plumped for Her Majesty the Queen. One can only hope that the interpreter was doing her job right or I could lose my head at the tower under the orders of Queen Paul: not good. I’ll keep you updated on the eventual outcome of said interview in said magazine.
Being a stepparent (an expression I find uncomfortable) my views are often sought by other broadcast media whenever they discuss the pros and cons of coping with ones newly acquired extended family. Such discussions are fun because it’s more of a debating forum than a concentration of one single view. I admire anyone in the field of frontline communications within an organisation who has to deal with the media, especially when it comes to crisis management. Such individuals have to be so well trained in the field of media management and nothing, and I mean nothing can replace a well seasoned, experienced communications manager or director when it comes to handling a sound-bite hungry fourth estate. Such folk are worth their weight in gold as they have the ability to remove the ‘sting’ from a potentially damaging situation or even act as a buffer as they present a beautifully prepared holding story on behalf of their organisation. Some have described this in recent years as ‘spin’, another word which leaves me cold: after all, what would you do if you were the media director of BP? So I should like to give a ‘nod’: acknowledgement to those stalwarts on the other side of the mic who may find themselves talking on a local radio station about council issues or in front of John Humphrys on the national Today programme, defending the stance, decision, policy or controversial perception of this or the other organisation. An interviewer always has an agenda: as should the interviewee. Do not, under any circumstances, send the untrained, ill prepared or un-briefed into the lions den. Trust me, they will become breakfast!