Is it worthwhile to tune into a show where the guest has to send the host a list of questions to ask?

I read the following in a message from a marketing firm and I was floored . . . okay flabbergasted;

3. Question Time: As a standard rule in talk radio, you always want to provide hosts with sample questions to ask you – as the host won’t always have the time or discipline to study your topic prior to speaking with you. But, after doing a number of small market interviews you’ll know which questions present the best opportunity for communicating your message and keeping listeners tuned into the show!

My response (and bearing in mind that I may require more bran in my diet);

Now you may wonder why I am floored by this particular statement.

You should never, ever do a show of any kind if you have to forward a list of suggested questions to the host. Period!

Besides the fact that such a practice puts you on shows in which you will ultimately blend into a sea of irrelevant monotones in that no matter how many interviews you do its always going to be the same infomercial-type answers to the same old question, a host should show both yourself as a guest and the audience the respect that goes with having the privilege of sharing the virtual and terrestrial air waves with people. In short, reaching an audience is not merely a numbers game where you robotically answer the same questions on different shows. It is a medium of opportunity to leave a unique and indelible imprint. To do this, the host has to contribute his or her own unique views of a particular topic to any discussion. That is why it is called talk – or more appropriately conversation radio.

I know, I know I may sound a tad grumpy and unreasonable but your guest and audience deserve your very best each and every time you take to the airwaves.

A host not having the time or discipline to study your topic prior to speaking with you, is tantamount to buying a car without learning how to drive or, starting to play a game without reading the instructions.  You might be able to fumble your way through, but you are certainly not going to be as effective a driver or player as the case may be, had you taken the time to familiarize yourself with the rules of engagement.

Is your host cheating you?

With the access to information afforded us through the advent of the Internet, there is no reason why any host should not have the time and ability to do their homework.  As a result, and this is where I wholeheartedly agree with the marketing firm’s point, any failure to do the research has more to do with a lack of discipline.  And if the absence of discipline is indeed the case, then you have to ask yourself if it is really worthwhile for you to be on that particular show in the first place.

Once again you may think of me as being curmudgeonly in terms of my view on this particular subject but having aired 300 plus shows I can tell you with confidence that it can indeed be done.  This is coming from someone who also writes posts for 13 blogs, 1 Internet television show and since November 2009 have released 3 books.

Now that you know my position, what do you think?


8 Responses to “Is it worthwhile to tune into a show where the guest has to send the host a list of questions to ask?”
  1. I think you’re crazy. I do a LOT of radio interviews and have had considerable experience and training. Professionals always advise providing the questions and producers and hosts are very happy to have them. Why would you assume a credible and entertaining guest would respond to ANY questions in a “robotic” way? I know my topic back and forth, but I also know the hosts just don’t have the time to read the whole book (that I send them in advance). Providing questions I know will take us to an interesting conversation is a way to avoid listening to stupid questions that won’t take us there. Your comments are ignorant.

    • piblogger says:

      Thank you for your vociferous commentary Melinda. But we will have to agree to disagree. I believe that it is not only the responsibility of the host to do their homework, but in doing so they will avoid asking the “stupid questions” to which you have referred while simultaneously challenging the guest(s), the audience and even themselves to hopefully think outside of the framework with which they are most familiar. In essence to see a particular subject in an entirely different light. After all, if an audience hears the same questions directed towards the same guest by different hosts, then what is the point? If this makes me ignorant, then I will wear this badge with both pride and confidence.

  2. As a show host for almost two years, i have always prepared my questions for my guests one it shows my respect for my guest’s time and who they are also I’m respecting my audience my not coasting my way through the show…. I may be wrong but taking a little time to do my homework is t he least i can do as a host.

  3. Greg Lehman says:

    she is sort of snarky

  4. Jerry Ashton says:

    I always ask my subject to provide me with “20 Questions” that he/she would like me to ask. This accomplishes a number of things, all good. First, no one knows their subject better than they. Secondly, it gives me insight into what they feel is important.

    I also let them know that I will have my own questions which may take the conversation far afield – and I do. What I seldom do is to let them know the questions I have in mind.

    • piblogger says:

      Thank you for your feedback Jerry. The one point from my own personal experience with which I would offer a response is about providing the questions in advance. I do this has it gives the guest an opportunity to understand (and prepare) for the direction of the interview. Rather than creating a canned question- response, it actually puts the guest at ease and opens the door to a dialogue that would not otherwise have taken place and, in the process, causes them to be more energized and revealing in their responses. As many guests have told me afterwards, even though it may have been the 100th (or more) interview they have given, I made them view their subject matter in an entirely new and unexpected light. Just my thoughts . . .

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