From January until April 2015, I will be teaching Radio Production at the Dublin Business School a few days each week. I will probably be posting some course notes here for students, but it does give me option to write about the production process. Although not necessarily exactly what I’ll be teaching.
1 – Research the topic and understand it. You are going to question at least one person who really understands the story. The might not be well disposed to reporters, want to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You have no powers to enforce truth telling or subpoenaing them to attend the interview. So better you know the subject, the better the questions you can. You might be asking questions of a number of people with different parts of the story, different opinions, different understanding and different agendas. The better informed you are – about all sides of the arguments – the better placed you will be to ask questions.
2 – Unlike print journalism it is likely – although not always inevitable – that you will be part of the story or at least your voice will be part of the story. So when preparing the questions, focus in on the questions you really want answered clearly. By all means write down a list of questions to get the idea into your head. Do not memorise them, memorise the areas of interest, then throw the list away. Do not read from a list of questions when you are interviewing. Ask — then listen — then ask supplementary questions until you are satisfied you can go no further. You might not get the answer you want, but an interviewee evading or clamming up is sometimes as good as a “Yes” or a “No”.
3 – It is basic and it is important — but it is not a rule; Who? What? Why? Where? When? How? These are the questions that will get you more than a “Yes” or “No”. But questioning is sometimes about conversation. So while the rule is important, if there is a different way to shape the question to get to the answer you are looking for, don’t get too hung up about WWWWWH?
4 – When that part of the research is complete, when the areas for interviewing are discussed and decided you are ready to do the interviews.
Next – recording in the studio and on location. Radio Production