In-Studio Interviews: A How-To Guide

Bogart and Bacall

Not Exactly Indie Rock: An Armed Forces Radio Services broadcaster interviews Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall during WWII. I bet that interviewer was nervous!

An in-studio interview is just what it sounds like: an interview that occurs in the radio station’s studio. These interviews typically occur in the late afternoon, a few hours before an artist has a show in town. Sometimes artists will even perform live in the studio, which is a special treat for the interviewer and others involved.

The station I work at has been lucky enough to have John Vanderslice, Tim Kasher, Warren Haynes, Joe Pug, Los Campesinos, Kim Gordon & Thurston Moore (before they broke up), and many more! (For those interested, you can find our archived in-studio interviews here.)

So, how do you pull off an in-studio interview? I’ll show you!

1. When in doubt, ask the band for a copy of their CD for the radio station’s music library.

Generally, it is good practice to play the artist’s latest songs at the beginning and end of the in-studio interview. If they are not performing live on the air, it is imperative to break up the interview with songs by the artist. Nothing is more embarrassing than having to play other music because you can’t locate the visiting band’s latest CD in the radio station’s music library.

2. Know the time, venue, cost, and any other relevant details of the band’s show.

This seems like a no-brainer, but it is important to remember that the band is actually at the station to promote their show happening that night. (No, sorry, they did not come just to hang out with you.) Know the price and place, and announce it on the air as much as possible.

3. Prepare your talking points and questions ahead of time.

For example, if I were to interview my all-time favorite musician/man/god Sufjan Stevens, I would start by asking questions about his latest album and current tour because it’s good publicity for his show. But then, I’d ask about his connections to indie favorites St. Vincent, Half-Handed Cloud, and My Brightest Diamond, his record label Asthmatic Kitty, and maybe even his marathon-running brother Marzuki. (See #5, below: “Allow yourself to get sidetracked.”)

4. Just be kind!

Politeness and kindness will get you a long way, especially with half-zombie humans (also known as “musicians”) who have altered sleep schedules (from loading out their equipment at venues until 2 a.m.) and who have been living in a van for the past few weeks/months.

5. Have a conversation.

My co-host Max Johnson advises, “Try to have a conversation with the people rather than ‘interview’ them. Allow yourself to get sidetracked. A random series of unrelated questions is boring; just let things go naturally.”

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One response to “In-Studio Interviews: A How-To Guide

  1. Pingback: October 21st 2001…. | MyRockGrid.com

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