Pre-Show Guestwork

Article 5 min
Watch Staff Sergeant Chris Duckworth of the American Forces Network (AFN) Radio Refreshers discuss managing your talent pool, managing expectations, studio visits, pre-interviews and day of arrival.

Managing Your Talent Pool

When you arrive at your station, there should already be existing interview guests with an established relationship with the station. MWR, Force Support Squadron and Army Community Service are all organizations that offer services within the military community you should be familiar with.

Part of your job as a public affairs professional and show host is to contact potential interview guests from other various organizations to come on air. Phone calls and emails work, but nothing beats good old-fashioned talking with people while you're out and about on base.

Managing Expectations

When a client puts a request in for an interview, or you have wrangled them to come on air so you can support their message, it's important your guest understands what happens before and during an interview.

Your guests should understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from you as the DJ. Some guests need their expectations mediated. You may get a guest who thinks they're about to debut their celebrity career, or you may have a guest who is terrified at the idea of coming on air. Help ground your guest's expectations in the reality of your radio format.

Explain how on-air interviews work when setting up the interview appointment. Encourage a call over an email when possible. Using only email can cloud your communication and may reduce the amount of valuable questions a guest may want to ask before they come on air.

Studio Visits

One of the best ways to familiarize the client with the interview process is to schedule a studio visit prior to their scheduled interview. This gives you and your client the opportunity to:

  • sit down and review expectations,
  • answer any questions you or they have and
  • tour the studio.

You can offer a basic mic mechanics training that day, but it is often better to do the day of the interview as the client will likely forget some of your training when they arrive for their interview.

PRO TIP: Check out the AFN Radio Refresher on Interview Techniques Part I for more!

Encourage your client to stay for a break or two, so they can see how a radio show works. This is a great time to go over in person what they want to communicate and how the radio process works. They can even sit in on a live on-air break or two to observe if the opportunity is there.


Whether your client is brand new to radio interviews or has come on air with your team for years, the best way to prepare for an interview is by knowing:

  • what your guest topics are beforehand and
  • how you can integrate them into the Eagle format.

Many affiliates use a standardized pre-interview questionnaire to great success with clients. This is a tool that can help you extract the five W's and other relevant information to help you better prepare for your interviews.

Now, not all the work is on you to prepare. If your guest is coming in to discuss a complex or niche topic, ask them to send you the materials they will cover, so you can better prepare to discuss it on air with them.

Let's say you scheduled an interview with a first-time guest three weeks ago. Like you, their schedule probably changes often. Sending a confirmation email 24 hours before their interview appointment is a great way to ensure they remember, and it may prompt your guests to send you updated information they wish to cover.

Day of Arrival

If you know you have a guest coming in, prepare before they arrive. First, make sure your studio is tidy. Wrap up loose headphones, clear all the clutter and have your show prep and interview questions handy. You can also prepare your Adobe Audition file and begin recording as soon as your guest arrives. This ensures the interview will be recorded properly.

PRO TIP: Press "Shift" + "Spacebar" to start recording!

Ask your guests to arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of the interview.

When possible,

  • greet your guests in the waiting area,
  • bring them into the studio,
  • make sure they're comfortable behind the mic
  • and begin reviewing the topics that will be discussed during the interview.

As a DJ, it's helpful to write these topics out into bullet points and have them visible while you're on air. This way you can easily move from topic to topic without sounding frazzled.

Before you go live on air, it's important to do a little audio coaching with your guest. This is where you will go over the hand signals that will be used during the interview and give tips on how to produce the best audio. Check out Interview Techniques Part I for more details on audio coaching.

On-air interviews are a great way to integrate your community into your show. Preparing your guests and making them feel comfortable before the in-studio interview takes place will make a much smoother show for your listener.

Get creative, try new things and, most importantly, have fun. Practice makes perfect. Have a great show!

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