I ventured away from doing another music podcast this week to interview another fellow classmate Iku Kawachi. This podcast was an opportunity to conduct my first interview.
After taking a “trail-and-fail” approach with my first podcast, I learned that a good broadcast takes proper preparation. I read Iku’s blog the night before to prepare for our interview. I prepared a guide of questions that I believed he could provide an original insight (based on the topics he had written articles on) and the regular sports fan would want to listen to. I purposely did not work from a list of questions as though it was set-in-stone script. I didn’t want my interview to follow a strict pattern of formal question followed by a quick minute answer pattern and lose its personable conversational tone. I created a guide of questions that could not be adequately answered with simple yes or no answers. His blog, The Mendoza Line, focuses on the subject of sports journalism with occasional subjective opinion. Being an avid sports fan myself, I was aware that perhaps the biggest story thus far in the MLB playoffs was the collapse of the publicly scrutinized New York Yankees. My first question I posed to Iku was about the subject of Alex Rodriguez’s struggles at the plate. There have been hundreds of articles written about A-Rod and whether or not he is clutch. I wasn’t so much interested in Iku’s opinion about Rodriguez’s problems as much as I was interested in his views on sports journalism. Iku addressed this exact issue in his column “The Russian Novel of the New York Yankees.” His answer allowed me to transition to talking about his blog.
From years of listening to radio interviews, the most important thing I feel is to treat it as a casual conversation. Iku told me that he hadn’t been interviewed for his sports expertise, so it was my responsibility to make the dialogue as normal as possible. Although I still have trouble doing it myself, I told him to think of it as just two guys sitting at a bar just having a drink and talking about sports. Podcasting is then just letting other patrons at the bar eavesdrop on your conversation. Conducting an interview is a delicate balance: when you’re too formal, it sounds unnatural and it is apparent to the people listening. If you are too casual, nobody will want to eavesdrop. After testing the microphone levels with Iku and letting him get comfortable with keeping a consistent distance from the microphone, I purposely turned my computer so that he couldn’t watch the recording EQ. Unlike television interviews, I didn’t have to be conscious about looking at multiple spots while still being engaged in a conversation. I maintained constant eye contact with Iku and after five minutes of talking about a subject he was passionate about, he felt comfortable with recording which in turn made me more comfortable with conducting the interview.
After my first podcast with guest co-host Dan, I got some unsolicited advice from my mom. She told me that I talked over him too much. When I went back and listened to it, I begrudging agreed with her critique. I learned from my first podcast that if you’re interviewing somebody you have to shut up and let the spotlight be on them. This week’s podcast was a chance for Iku to talk about himself and his blog, not about my sports opinion. I embraced that and I feel this week’s interview went much better.
I still have to deal with is opening and closing the show. If you re-listen to the first and last forty-five seconds of the podcast, you can hear my hesitancy introducing my guest as well as ending the show. I will try to create a opening and closing production using Garageband and some simple voiceover work this week. As good as I feel about how the interview went, I can’t help but feel sabotaged by my equipment. Halfway through the interview, the microphone quit picking up my voice. It sounded as if I was on the other side of a wall. Luckily, Iku’s voice was picked up fine. This podcast was also my first opportunity to edit a recorded interview. I was sure to eliminate any extraneous words or phrases such as “like,” “um,” “you know” or long pauses while making sure the podcast sounded natural. For my next recorded interview I have to be more decisive. In this podcast, Iku attempts to explain to me what the statistic “wins above replacement” is. Although I feel he does a good job of explaining what it is, it is still too convoluted for the average sports fan to comprehend. It is also a two minute-long tangent that I probably shouldn’t have asked him to explain further. A thirty-seven minute podcast is a bit long. Even though I feel we didn’t drag on any particular subject for too long, I have to make a show that is more succinct.