The Escape Pod on NPR

NPR’s Marketplace program did a story about client OfficeMax’ new female oriented marketing and product strategy. Bob Thacker and I were intervied. I managed to get two sentences into the interview. But I don’t sound nearly as nervous as i imagined i’d sound. so that’s good. you can hear it here.

if you’ve never been interviewed (by phone usually) on the radio, you probably imagine it as i once did, that it’s just like chatting on the phone. it’s not. and this only hits you right before you go on the air.

i have been interviewed on the radio several times and each time i’m surprised. the first times i was interviewed were based on my budweiser work which was receiving a ton of publicity. so i got interviewed a lot. but mostly by US media outlets (Newsweek, People, The New York Times, you name it). which would have been fine but for the fact that my family in ireland never saw any of this. so after a while, i realized my power and requested that the agency PR machine get me something in ireland. and by “something” i meant getting something into the local paper. just to annoy the haters really. but how was our PR maven to know what i meant? she just heard “get me something in ireland”.

but what happened next was way out of proportion to my wishes. I get a phone call while shooting in LA.

Our PR person rattles off a list of Irish radio DJs that will be calling me later that night (ireland is 8 hours ahead of LA). So i go to dinner and come back to the hotel and don’t sleep a wink. and then at two a.m. ireland’s national radio network calls my room. i pick up the phone and only then do i realize that i’m actually quite nervous. and only then do i imagine all the haters back in ireland laughing at my pathetic performance on national radio. and ireland is a big radio country – we love to chat. and i freeze up. literally. i can’t breathe, much less talk or think.

and so the irish radio producer is telling me exactly when i will be live on the air and what to expect. and i’m kind of grunting replies. it’s terrible. i’m on the verge of just hanging up and running away when i have an idea. i walk over to the minibar and open one of those tiny bottles of cognac. and swig it all back. it burns my throat and induces involuntary breathing. i’m finally breathing! next step talking! and my blood is flowing again. and i somehow make it through the interview. a second tiny bottle of cognac might have been opened and consumed.

my family back in Ireland loved the interview. and i collapsed in a heap on the bed. radio is hell!

8 responses to “The Escape Pod on NPR

  1. ha. great post. thats how most people feel but few admit it. better to be slightly nervous. some of the big mistakes I have witnessed have been when people feel too relaxed and feel the journalist is their new friend.

  2. oh there was no danger of my being too relaxed eoin. thanks for the comment.

    it’s a bit like public speaking. once you’ve experienced the worst, the only way is up.

  3. Great post. Have been interviewed lots of times on radio myself. For my first one, I was 20. I was wheeled into the studio during an ad break and given a quick sound check. I went from cock of the walk to shuddering wreck in the blink of an eye. I remember the interviewer looking at me, thinking this kid is about to faint(which I was!) and then saying “Listen Pat, you’ve got to breathe” and like a yoga teacher, he said, “Inhale, exhale” a few times then we were on air. It went great, although each time he asked me a question, he made breathing gestures. Would have looked great on TV!

  4. What a wonderfully candid post! Radio interviews can generate a lot of anticipation and nerves for a small soundbite, but it can be very worthwhile. You reached over a million listeners on Friday’s NPR interview and showed some nice thought-leadership. I agree with Eoin that some nerves can keep you “talking smart” and help you avoid divulging too much irrelevant info that could get you in hot water. Thanks for the fun insight into your Ireland radio days too.

  5. Yes Pat, radio is not to be underestimated. and breathing is clearly the key. yours sounds like a great ricky gervais “the office” bit. hilarious. in retrospect!

  6. well beth, i have “too candid” PR horror story too. i’ve learned everything the hard way it would appear. ;-)

  7. I think its the sound of silence – that sound of dead air as you fumble for something interesting to say. As you realise the connection between your mouth and your brain isn’t working as well as it should be that’s the most terrifying. That plus a 2am conversation with Pat Kenny. – that’s what nightmares are made of.

  8. You nailed it David. And as luck would have it the interview was with Pat Kenny. Gerry Ryan was much more relaxing and matey.

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