Blind Faith

Jul 31, 2014

Being a talk show producer for public radio, I put a lot of trust, confidence, and sometimes faith—that the guests I am asking to be on the show- will show up and be knowledgeable on the topic we are discussing. And for the most part, they always are.

The Jefferson Exchange is daily 2-hour talk show. We invite guests from all over our region, the U.S. and the world to share their perspectives on issues and topics. Our guests come from all fields and backgrounds; we really don’t have a specific type.  I find this aspect to be one of our show’s many charms. However, it can also cause the producer (me) and the host (Geoff Riley) a lot of stress.

We sometimes joke that we have interviewed everyone in our listening audience on the Jefferson Exchange. But if you haven’t been interviewed yet… here is what goes into the arrangements.

I’ll spend a few weeks researching a topic or see a press release in my inbox on an event. I’ll then narrow some of my choices down to what seems most relevant for the week and at that point I start making calls.

In the best scenario, I speak to you directly. I’ll explain why I want you as my guest, the format of our show, who the host is, and some key points we would like to discuss. Other times, I will get a public information officer who will coordinate the best speaker from their organization or the person’s assistant who handles all their scheduling. In this case, I am putting blind faith that the person they are delivering will be knowledgeable and personable on the morning of our live interview.

As producer it is my job to play it cool, make sure the host has what he needs, and keep the show going, because the show must go's live radio!

And one more thing, we don’t offer questions ahead of time. While the guests you hear on our show have been prepped on the topic, they are doing a majority of the interview by the seat of their pants.

Also… we don’t pay guests to be on our show. Every guest you hear on the show is taking time out of their morning, and possibly the evening, preparing or (panicking) for the show. We are asking a lot from our guests, sometimes it can be easy and sometimes it can be really hard. As producer, it’s my job to invite and convince these people to do this.

But when it all comes together it is very rewarding, hopefully for all parties involved.

If you are an avid listener of the Jefferson Exchange, you have probably heard the few times when we can’t get a guest on the phone, or you hear the host giving the weather forecast a little longer than usual, or maybe we air something we had not promoted the day before. If you’ve heard this…well this is when I am on the other side of glass in my studio silently suffering. Dealing with cancellations is part of my job. But as a person who likes order and well-planned days, cancellations or phone call disconnects can be devastating.

This is why I say silently suffering… as producer it is my job to play it cool, make sure the host has what he needs, and keep the show going, because the show must go on… it’s live radio!

I am constantly amazed at how many talented and interesting people we have here in our region. We have had so many wonderful guests on the Jefferson Exchange; it is hard to even begin to pick a favorite. If you have been one of those guests, thank you. And if you are reading this, and have not yet received a call from me… it’s only a matter of time.