Authors: How to Be a Great Radio Interview

by | Apr 27, 2012

by Lin A. Lacombe

Lin is one of the first people I met at the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) meetings when I joined several years ago. As a board member and past president she put in an incredible amount of work on BAIPA meetings and presenters. Lin has a lot of experience helping authors get noticed, and one of the best ways is through radio interviews. Here she gives you tips on how to handle those valuable platform-building events when you’re getting ready to go “on the air.”

Radio producers . . . Radio advertisers . . . Radio hosts and their audiences.

They need YOU!

Radio needs to fill air time. So why not fill that air time with you?

After all, you are the expert, you are the professional with the answers or solutions to help your readership.

You have written a book—your passion.  Now it is time to turn that passion into publicity. Your book is the vehicle for what is regarded in the media world as your “platform” to present your position or message. And it is your voice they want to hear!

How do you prepare for a (great) radio interview?

  • The first thing I advise is to create a series of pre-interview questions and answers, which you can present to the radio talk show producer and/or host.

This not only helps you to focus on what you would like to say, but it also helps you to consolidate your answers.  When you create this sample Q/A, you essentially are helping the producer and the host to do their jobs, as well as keeping them on track so that they can keep their listeners on track.

I have used this tactic to “pitch” authors to radio producers who haven’t even read the book . . . and it works!

By picking a solid number of questions where you want to spend your time, you will secure your message with the audience . . .  something most radio commentators want to insure . . . especially if yours is a controversial topic.  Lastly, a good series of questions will get you the attention your topic/book deserves.

Also, a terrific resource I encourage my clients to use is Joe Sabah’s How to Get on Radio Talk Shows All Across America, a how-to book and CD of national radio producers.

OK, now that you have your pre-interview questions in hand, let’s get started.

  • Know what you are going to say.  Have your basic message down . . . but not “rote” so that you “go into it” at the drop of a hat in a machine-gun style.
  • Listen! Listen to the question from the host or from the caller.
  • Answer the question . . . and then you can elaborate on what you think are the more distilled points of your message.
  • Communicate . . . Discuss . . .  Engage.
  • Don’t preach.  No high-horse, here.  Remember: You are partnering with the host to inform the audience.
  • Tell the truth.  No explanation here. You want to hear the truth, so does your audience.  “I don’t know” or “I will find out, and follow-up with you,” is better than stammering or contriving a half-baked response.
  • Do not “pitch” your book as an “answer.”  The book is a vehicle to reach your readers, and responding to a question with “Read my book!” is not an answer. You and the information you are imparting are the topics of the day. Prove you know your stuff and you will win the readers’ hearts and minds.

Last but not least, have fun! The host and the audience will hear it in your voice.  Your voice is the messenger!

Get out of your head  . . . and into your message. That alone can take you From (Your) Passion to Publicity.

pr for authorsLin Lacombe has worked as a news director, writer, and interviewer. Lin is a literary publicist and book launch advisor, and president of From Passion to Publicity. She counsels authors how to produce the best book from manuscript to book launch and how to market and publicize their message. A former Board Member of the Women’s National Book Association—SF Bay Area and past president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association, Lin is also a contributing writer for the IBPA Independent and other trade publications. Find out more at her website.

Microphone photo by var resa

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Lin A.Lacombe

    Thank you, Jean. Good for you. And remember, as I told Vikram above, be sure to listen to the program, know the host’s name, “get” his style and understand who his audience is.

    Knock ’em dead!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Great tips, Lin. Although it makes sense to familiarize yourself with the show, host and focus, sometimes we really need to be reminded! Thanks.

      • Lin A. Lacombe

        And, as you know, “making sense” and the “obvious” can be overlooked in the excitement of getting on air.

  2. Jean Ann Geist

    Interesting and timely post. I am planning two possible radio interviews in the near future. Many thanks for the information!

  3. Margie Yee Webb

    Thanks Joel for sharing this excellent article from Lin. By the way, I enjoyed your presentation at the SFWC Self-Publishing Boot Camp last year.

    Thanks Lin for sharing your expertise! I will pass this on to NCPA. Many may remember you from the NCPA Conference 2010.

    Also, I will put the link on facebook to pass on to Writers Who Wine and Cat Writers’ Association…it’s too good to not share!

    Thanks again!


    • Lin A.Lacombe

      Thanks ever so, Margie! And thank you for passing it on.

      Hope to see you soon at BAIPA or NCPA!

  4. Sally Fletcher

    Thanks, Lin & Joel! We can always learn more.

    • Lin A.Lacombe

      Thank YOU, Sally. Learning every day! Good to hear from you.

  5. Vikram Narayan

    Useful list of tips. These ideas would work well for a podcast interview also.

    • Lin A.Lacombe

      Yes, Vikram. Definitely. And there are more tips, of course. I am writing an article on being interviewed on television as well as there are fundamental differences in a visual medium. Although obvious, I did not mention it in the radio piece, listen to or watch the program where you will be interviewed. Know the host’s name, the types of interviews he/she conducts and his/her style (do they like humor, are they confrontational, etc.) so that your platform can can rise to meet the audiences expectations.



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