By Dave Foxx
No, I haven’t been watching too much of the Food Network. Have you thought about the fact that whenever an artist shows up at your radio station to do an interview, probably less than five percent of your audience will hear it? Do the math. It’s a little discouraging, but this month I’d like to help you remedy the situation and make your boss worship the ground you walk on. Well… make him glad he hired you anyway.
Let’s begin by making a couple of small assumptions: one, that your station has a website and a web content manager who knows his Firewire from a firewall, and two, that the interview is with someone who really should matter to your audience and the questions are burning issues with them.
Once the interview is done, you start by creating an intro for it. What you say is up to you (or your PD), but I’ll tell you what I do. (If nothing else, it’ll inspire you to come up with verbiage of your own.) Using Kelly Kelly Kelly, our station female voice, and Dave Kampel, our alternate male voice, I build a custom intro for each interview. It says, “Z100 Celebrity Sound File… Shakira with Cubby.” The bed continues for 10 or 15 seconds, fading under the beginning of the actual interview. I let the entire interview roll along to the end, minus any musical performances (for music licensing purposes AND to keep the label happy) and naturally any offensive language that might have popped out. Sometimes, if the artist (or jock) gets particularly tongue-tied, I show a little mercy and clean it up for them. Then, I make a lo-rez MP3 (64kbps), which the web content manager converts into an ACC file and posts on the station website.
Here comes the more difficult part: combing through the entire interview, looking for a half-dozen pithy moments. Include the question and about 15 to 20 seconds of the answer. I make sure the questions are ones that a typical listener would ask of that particular star. For example, in an interview with Nick Lachey, surely someone would ask about the breakup with Jessica Simpson. A LOT of people would be curious to hear the answer, even if the reply is “I’d rather not talk about it just yet.” (Hey, if the interview is really lame, you don’t want to do any of this stuff anyway, but you might want to urge the PD to hire better interviewers.)
I take the same intro that I used for the web version and present each of these moments I’ve culled from the whole interview over the intro bed, followed by a tag that says, “To hear the complete interview, log on at Z100–dot–com… keyword: interview.” Instant promo! It promotes the website (always a plus) and says in a loud clear voice, “We are the ONLY station that gives you this stuff,” only in not so many hyped up words. Your entire audience gets to hear the big moments in the interview, even if they were asleep when it originally aired.
Now, there’s one more thing you should do to really put the icing on the cake. Cut the questions OFF and dub the answers into your playback system. Send an email to the entire air-staff with a list of the questions and they can play the answers over the intro of the appropriate songs. For example, if it’s a Natasha Bedingfield interview and her song Single comes up on the playlist, the jock can mention that Natasha was up and told us why she named it Single. If the back timing is right, it sounds absolutely brilliant on the air and makes the jock sound like he or she did more show prep than usual. This adds so much street cred to the jock AND the station, it’ll probably be declared illegal before the year is out.
The final step comes at the end of the year when you’re doing the big countdown of the year’s biggest songs. You’ve got so MUCH material to pull into the show you will literally have to decide which clips get cut before you even start to record any voice tracks.
On the RAP CD this month, you’ll find examples of everything I do in producing Celebrity Sound Files at Z100 to help you map out your strategy — the stand-alone intro and tag and a few complete samples. If you want to hear a complete interview, I invite you to log on at Z100–dot–com and enter the keyword, “interview.” You’ll find several to choose from. (And we’ll get one or two extra hits this month. Cool!)
There is one thing you’ll need to do in advance to help you build the promo version. If you don’t have your VO person saying the name of every artist you play regularly, you’ll definitely want to get that done. For most stations, the list is a lot shorter than you might think. You will also need to get him or her to cut a few lines that say, “with” each of the jocks likely to do an interview. After that, you are set.
Be sure you plan the big party celebrating your raise to include everyone involved in the process. (You don’t have to tell them how big the raise was… that’ll just make them jealous.)