Monday, December 07, 2009

I have spent countless hours in the last twenty years listening to public radio. I have called in once or twice, but never, until today, appeared as a guest. A local show, "Charlotte Talks", was putting together a show on Charlotte in the 1930s. The principal guest was Tom Hanchett, staff historian at the Levine Museum of the New South. Tom remembered that I was researching this topic too and suggested me as a second guest. It was an honor to play second fiddle to him. Listen to the show here.

What did I learn from this experience? For one thing, that a radio interview is a contest of agendas. The guest has to work within the host's agenda. I held back some observations or anecdotes when they belonged to the previous question, not the current one. Given that ground rule, one can still advance one's own agenda. I hesitated and lost a chance to bring up some points I really wanted to make when I thought that they didn't exactly pertain to the question posed to me. A perfectly worded question never came along, though, so I never got another opportunity. My fault, not his.

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