Radio interview at Aiken Trials

Mystery author Sasscer Hill and Tony Baughman of WKSX-FM set up for a radio interview at the Aiken Trials. Photo by Rhonda Lane

You’re an author at an event. You see someone wearing a headset, perhaps with a microphone, sitting off to the side with some boxy electronic equipment with dials or slides.

That person may be a radio announcer, especially if he or she has media credentials. He or she may “doing a remote broadcast” and wondering how to fill the hour or so. He or she might be looking for someone to talk to.

That someone could be you.

That’s exactly what happened when I was with my friends Sasscer Hill and Polly Iyer at the Aiken Trials, sort of a dress rehearsal for the track for young race horses. We were helping Sasscer set up her table to sign her racing mysteries when I spotted Tony Boughman of WKSX-FM with his table of equipment and introduced myself when he wasn’t talking on the air.

I used to work in both radio and television. In college, I spun middle-of-the-road music as a DJ at my campus station and later wrote advertising copy, aka radio commercials, for the town’s commercial radio station. Back at WKYT-TV and ESPN, I worked on live broadcasts of sporting events in various capacities, from computer graphics to dragging cables along behind sidelines camera operators. Despite the march from analog to digital equipment, I recognize pro equipment when I see it, as well as media credentials.

Anyway, the announcer Tony and I chatted about why I was there, hanging out with my friend the horse racing mystery writer who’d just moved to Aiken, and he told me to send her over.

Wait until the person isn’t talking to approach

If they’re talking, they’re on the air. You don’t want to interrupt. If the announcer isn’t talking and it’s radio, a song or commercials or other programming could be playing from the studio. That’s a good time to say “hi.”

Ask what station they’re from

This is mostly an ice-breaker. I probably shouldn’t tell you what I said: “Hey, are you podcasting? Or is this real radio?” Yikes! What was I thinking? In an effort to repair my karma, podcasting is “new” radio. Perhaps you’d be better off asking, “What station are you from?” or “Are you local?”

Have a copy of your book ready

Even though it’s for radio and no one will see anything as the interview airs, have a copy of your book ready. In hindsight, we should have set up Sasscer’s book so that passers by could see it during the interview. In fairness, I should state that I grabbed that photo while they were setting up for the interview.

Take photos

You probably can’t take photos of yourself, but you should enlist someone to do so. After all, you’ve probably got a website or a Facebook page.

If you can afford it, offer them a copy of your book afterward.

If not, give them a bookmark or a card with your website information, especially if you can offer a free chapter.

Another idea is buy the announcer a bottle of water, put it near the announcer, waggle your fingers and smile and nod so he/she knows it’s from you. Try to make sure you don’t put the bottle with condensation on it on or near the radio equipment. When you talk a lot, your mouth gets dry. Odds are, he or she has a bottle of water with them already but giving them a bottle is a nice gesture and inexpensive.

Can you think of other good ideas to add? Have I forgotten any important points to remember? Feel free to post them below.