“It’s just a conversation.” That’s what all the seasoned veterans told me prior to my first radio interview. And it might be true. But after it all played out, it was so much more than that.
First I had to overcome my anxiety enough to pitch a story to Jeffrey Callison of Insight on Capital Public Radio three weeks ago about the book I published, On a Narrow Windowsill: Fiction and Poetry Folded onto Twitter. Then I had to stay calm and problem solve when one of my co-interviewees had to bow out due to illness. I also had to weather my fears that the other co-interviewee would actually make it after her original flight was canceled in the Southwest maintenance crisis. By dinner time on Monday night, everything was worked out. Poet Ellaraine Lockie and I had checked into the Embassy Suites in Old Sacramento, my co-editor Rose Auslander was standing by to be a phone interviewee, and no one from the studio called to say “just kidding” or “need to reschedule.”
Bonus #1 = fears vanquished
Our hotel was amazing. A two room suite that looked out at Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River with walls so well insulated that we heard nothing–not even the elevators that were right across the hall. We ate at Joe’s Crab Shack, which was a crazy mix of good seafood, a gorgeous view of the river and bridge, dancing servers, and disco lights. Don’t believe me?
Bonus #2 = discovering new sights in Sacramento
Ellaraine and I talked and talked and talked. About poetry, art, travel, and our favorite animals (both plush and live). At one point I started to worry that I would lose my voice prior to the interview! It was so helpful to have an interview veteran with me in the hours leading up to the big event.
Bonus #3 = reconnecting with a fellow poet
We made it to the studio Tuesday morning, a full 30 minutes before we needed to be. When the assistant remarked on it, I told her we didn’t want to be late. That made her giggle a bit. Ellaraine and I got a little silly in the green room with all that spare time, including having our plush mascots sign the Insight guest book. The green room was actually beige, highly soundproofed, and full of chairs plus one suede couch. I noticed a signed poster of Ira Glass on the wall, but didn’t find any obvious celebrities in the guest book. Eventually we were joined in the green room by Will Travers of Born Free and a PR person from the local IMAX theatre which led to Will and Ellaraine swapping their Kenyan adventures. Fascinating.
Finally it was our turn. We had exactly one minute to sit down, do a sound check, and be ready to go. Jeffrey is amazing to watch in action. He listened to the crew in the soundbooth giving him instructions, asked us questions, wrote himself notes, and organized his mind for our segment all at the same time. The microphone with its burgandy foam cover was nearly as big as my head. I could barely see Jeffrey over the top of it, even though I was sitting directly across the table from him. We knew that Rose was there on the phone, but we couldn’t hear what she was saying because we didn’t have earpieces. I knew from my stints doing sound at church that broadcasting her into the room would have made an echo on the air, but it was still a bit wild. Especially when she made both the host and the control booth laugh and I didn’t hear the joke. The interview took both an eternity and a split second. But I made it without laughing like a hyena or going blank. Want to hear it? (We’re the last of 4 segments.)
Bonus #5 = learning that I CAN do live interviews
I may have only driven a few miles on this trip, but the distance I traveled was huge in other ways. So I’ve included some quotes of the day below, as if this were a TravelBytes post.
Quotes of the Day
Jeffrey Callison after Rose read her poem on air: That’s a little long for Twitter isn’t it?
Ian after we listened to the interview: I want that on my iPod. My friends will think I’m cool!