This year I have heard MANY radio interviews with various R&B Singers, Rappers and others. Quite often the same mistakes are made across the board at MANY Radio Stations by various Radio DJs and it's easy to see how a listener can get lost. First and foremost, if even a few listeners are not telling you how much they loved your interview you can tweak your approach. Remember, you are entertaining the listener.
What questions would YOU want to hear asked of certain artists? Put yourself in the listeners shoes. If you don't care what your listener's think, it's too late. Read another article or better yet go look at yourself for hours on end in the mirror.
- 1 What is a BAD interview?
- 2 Rethink Asking “What Inspired You?”
- 3 Rethink: Who Do you Listen to?
- 4 Rethink: What's your favorite song on the album?
- 5 Rethink: Who would you like to work with?
- 6 Head Scratcher: Tell US about YOUR new project?
- 7 Rethink: Asking the artist to play games on the show
- 8 Taking Credit for the Success of the artist
- 9 Acting like you personally know the artist
- 10 Using the exact same introduction for every artist
- 11 Too Many people in the studio
- 12 Love to hear yourself talk
- 13 Want to see some GREAT Interviewers?
What is a BAD interview?
If three listeners tell you they loved your interview (excluding anyone you know), consider yourself blessed. Most listeners won't comment because their main focus is hearing their favorite music or they won't comment because it was not memorable. No matter how bad Radio DJs want to be stars, it's the music and artists who take precedent over us. We are local they are international do the math. Less is often more so ease up. Does that mean all hope is lost? No, you have to stand out and make sure you bring something else to the table. Some of us do “Lazy and predictable interviews.”
Understand that when an artist comes into your studio, ESPECIALLY an established and currently charting one, chances are they would rather be somewhere else. This is work for them, they are probably tired (especially early in the morning), they are not getting paid for this and they have not seen their family or friends for a minute and probably want to be in their own bed and sleep for a couple of days. Make it worth their while as WELL as yours.
Research them, listen to their music and find out some interesting information and ask them about it BEFORE the actual interview. I can immediately tell when a Radio DJ is ill prepared for an interview and listeners are not that stupid either. When you do a “Lazy” interview it's repetitive and boring for them and you are probably not going to get a lot of energy, information or real laughs from them. Just about EVERY artist I have seen a Radio DJ interview this year has that same look and energy on their face “When is this going to be over so I can get the hell out of here.” Here are few very important tips to be aware of when interviewing an artist falls into that category….
Rethink Asking “What Inspired You?”
Why do we keep asking this question? If the artist was to be honest they would tell you, …in addition they want to remain relevant. THAT's what inspires them.” TRUE never-sleep artists like Prince, who take a year off lying in their bed made of spare hundred-dollar bills, drinking African Jungle Tea made from the tribe's Plate Lips and Nose Bones are not out there today so it's not really that deep for most artists and it's the same question every other radio person has asked them.
Rethink: Who Do you Listen to?
The Judge who is threatening to throw me in jail if I don't catch up on these child payments. Outside of that… This is also not a good question, they are not promoting another artist they are promoting THEIR project. Who they listen to, what they are reading and what TV shows they watch are irrelevant when they are spending a limited amount of time to push a new album on your Radio Station
Rethink: What's your favorite song on the album?
Probably the one that gives the highest return. Artist are told by labels to make “Radio friendly records” all the time. Their favorite song may not be on the album. They are playing a game just like we are called marketing, promotions and relevance.
Rethink: Who would you like to work with?
Most likely answer: A real staff instead of my family.This is a legitimate question but overused. If they are successful, chances are they can call the person up and try to make it happen. Drake once said he'd like to work with SADE and that was hilarious. SADE is an international ICON and if she even got wind of what he said it would be amazing let alone if she even knows who Drake is. So some requests will never be met which is what makes the question irrelevant. The better question is what new artist would you like to work with but the label won't be happy with that nor the artist, remember he is promoting HIS project.
Head Scratcher: Tell US about YOUR new project?
Is the artist interrupting your vacation? Didn't you get the info a day or two before to review? Asking the artist to explain his own project indicates you did not do your homework or review the material. If you were an artist and someone was interviewing you and asked you to explain your project would you not be insulted? Wouldn't you rather they ask you specific questions about the project that would indicate they even bothered to check it out? Remember YOU are the person doing the interview so it is up to YOU to ask the questions to the artist. It is YOUR show.
Rethink: Asking the artist to play games on the show
If someone woke you up at 5am to do an interview heard by over a hundred thousand people and they ask you to play a game, how would you feel? Remember this artist is probably exhausted and just did a few club dates the night before. They may have literally slept for 1 hour and you want them to play games on a radio show? They don't know how to play or understand (or CARE to understand) how it works? That's too much work and it's not their job to be entertaining on your show is it?
Taking Credit for the Success of the artist
As much as I love my radio folks some of us have egos that are out of control. I have seen some Radio DJs take credit for successfully picking hits of an artist's new or previous projects? Really? As we know, there is a greater science that goes into making a hit than a prediction broadcasts to our listeners folks and it has nothing to do with us. The label makes a decision on which singles to release and then many weeks of work and prep go into making that song a hit.
The artist is WELL aware of it too because they usually have to work their asses off to get it to that point. Imagine how they must feel when a Radio DJ at a Radio Station says, “Everybody wrote me off when I told them this was gonna hit. I knew what I was talkin' about. See what happened?” Isn't that like taking credit for a story someone else wrote?
Acting like you personally know the artist
We have all done it, we want to seem larger than life but we know that unless we are controlling the airplay or have major industry influence, artists trust damn near no-one and they don't like middlemen (I don't blame them). They are VERY cautious of who they let into their space. They may play along with lines like ‘Remember when we had that conversation about…” which may be based on the last time they were at the Radio Station but it goes across the air like you were on the phone or hangin' out one night. I'm telling you, listeners will see right through it.
There are some Radio DJs who have the cell phone numbers of singers and rappers and can call them for a quick question on the air but best note those Radio DJs are usually Syndicated or MAJOR market Radio DJs and/or on air PDs with leverage but the corporations both the Radio Station and the label especially on the Black side (radio) don't like impromptu interviews without their consent (I agree with them).
Using the exact same introduction for every artist
Too Many people in the studio
Just about every interview I saw this year had WAY too many people in the studio. A college professor and a CEO respect their space and they control it. Why are all those people in your live studio? That is a question I need for you to answer cause I don't get that. That has to be disruptive.
Love to hear yourself talk
Remember who is being interviewed and who is doing the interview. The listeners want to hear from the artist and they want to hear something they don't know or something that makes them laugh or feel more connected to the artist.
Want to see some GREAT Interviewers?
Check out The Breakfast Club Radio Show. Charlamagne Tha God, Envy and Angela are EXCELLENT at working in concert and asking great questions to artists.Check out this interview from Devi Dev with Kendrick Lamar. She was totally prepared and gets him to warm up to her and she even talks to him about his depression but watch how she asks him without asking him and he comes clean about it. This is what listeners want something they won't get anywhere else and THIS is what makes you a star without even trying so hard. They will know where they heard this interview and they will tell others. This is one of the best Radio DJ/artists interviews I've seen this entire year. Why?
- She is BEYOND prepared
- She makes HIM the star
- She asks GREAT questions
- She is not asking him to do anything besides be interviewed
- She has listened to his music
- Not a HINT of ego on Devi's behalf
- She takes control of the interview
- She makes you want to see more of her interviews because she is credible, thorough and believable.