KALW Work with Podcasts

This is a digital version of the hand-outs given to class on November 8th. This will make it easier to go to the links listed:

How to Interview People


There should be a logical flow to your questions. The flow at most times can be chronological, especially when interviewing people for their personal stories, performers or authors.


For any interview, the first step is: get them to say their name and title with the format “My name is….. I am…..” Have them spell their name for you. This is crucial for accuracy. Write that as your first question.


The next question for any interview is almost always something like, “when did you first become interested in XXX?” or “Let’s go back to when you first thought about this idea…” or “what initially got you involved in ….?” Start at the BEGINNING and move forward.


That question is always a great conversation starter. That’s what an interview is. A CONVERSATION- but also – A STORY with a beginning, middle, and end. After establishing how and why they did what the did, or are interested in what they are, THEN WHAT HAPPENED?


* Note: This first question also serves as a disarming element that puts people at ease, loosening up for the rest of your questions*




– Remember the basic questions are always:



Some additional basic questions that go for almost everyone are:


– HOW did you get to know about this? (topic)


– WHAT is new about it?


– WHY do you think it’s IMPORTANT for people to know about this?


– What kind of EFFECT do you think this will have on (relevant population/relevant sector or geography)?


– What do you want people to GET out of this? (show, album, book, study)


– What does this MEAN for you PERSONALLY ? – (THIS one really gets people to dig into their own feelings, often for the first time. There is often a pause before the answer.)


– What should we expect NEXT? (move it forward)


– Don’t be afraid to put yourself in the interview, For example, “Ok, I’m a 35 year old woman of color. How will this new policy affect me?” The effect is that it is more of a conversation, it’s more believable and relatable.


– By all means have FUN if there is room for it! “Can you teach me right now how to whistle like you do in the performance?” – or for them to give you a sample of whatever it is they do if it’s performance related. “Can you sing me a line or two?”


– Or “Let’s pretend – you’re the bully, I’m the victim.” Roleplay is a GREAT way to demonstrate what it is they’re talking about.


Also, don’t be afraid to re-ask questions if you feel they weren’t amply answered, or ask them in a different way adding an example.


Pay attention to the rhythm of your questions: some can be short, some can be longer. Don’t be afraid to add something meaty or thought-provoking to the questions so there’s something for the interviewee to respond to, not just a simple one sentence question.




The Q&A:


Q&As are something we’ve been trying at KALW to give our listeners information they can digest easily. But it’s a balancing act- the reporter needs to get out a lot of facts, but also sound conversational.


Don’t Expect to Buy Recreational Marijuana Come January:



What do you notice that the host does to try to make the format sound more conversational?


Does Steven Short sound like he’s reading from a paper? What works?


What doesn’t work?


If you were interviewing Steven Short, what would you ask him?




Is this Working? From This American Life



This is an example of what’s called a “vox pop” – where, basically, you interview strangers and ask them a simple question, and put all the answers together in a montage.


While listening to this, try to think of three questions the reporters asked the teachers in order to get the best answers.


If you had to put together a montage about teacher discipline, what questions would you ask your teachers?




         Celebrating 30 years of Fresh Air



Fresh Air: Terry Gross and Jay-Z:


(27:11) Terry Gross: You know how a lot of…






Terry Gross with Bill O’Reilly


(34:19) I want to ask you about People Magazine…




What do you think of Terry Gross’s interviewing style?


Back to My Mixtape…





My Mixtape


Changes by 2 Pac



What do you think the interviewer asked to get this story?


Some basics…


For My Mixtapes, the format is:


My name is…

And I’m from…

and my Song is…



So, for My Mixtape, you might want to start with: “Why is XX meaningful to you?” or “Do you remember the first time you heard it, and what that was like?”


Then keep the conversation moving. You only need about 3 minutes of tape, but you’re going to want enough material to put together a compelling 1 minute, 49 second story. So you need enough material to keep listeners engaged!





Everyone choose a partner. You’re going to interview your partner on a subject they know a lot about, or something unique they’ve done in their life.


Once you know the topic, write down five to six questions you want to ask them.


Then, interview them on the topic for about five minutes!


Afterwards, your partner can give feedback on the interview.