SCENE: Your boss’ office.
Boss: Hey, you know how a few years ago everyone was all like, “We need a video for our website or our app, or whatever?”
Boss: Well, now everyone’s all like, “We forgot about audio. We need audio for our website and our app, and whatever.”
Boss: We need audio for our website and our app, and whatever.
Look around you.
On the street, on the bus, on the train. In the fitness center, on the running path, in the bike lanes…
… and, of course, in cars …
You’ll see more people than ever listening to things.
The irony for traditional broadcasting: Because those people have so many more choices, a smaller percentage are listening to what’s historically been considered radio.
That’s an opportunity for all other would-be audio creators. Including you.
If you or your organization are considering that adventure — creating audio for a website, an app, iTunes, Soundcloud or some other platform — one of your simplest and most compelling options is the interview.
Your subject could be a colleague, an expert in the field, a customer. It could be the employee of a rival organization.
Whoever your subject, the resulting content can generate a quote that can make for great headlines, subject lines or social media sharing.
A well-conducted audio interview has much in common with the email interview. But the dimension of sound adds a few layers to the prep work.
At Rivet, where we’re reimagining radio for digital delivery and consumption, our unique listening metrics are teaching us what it takes to create compelling audio in a digital world — a world where competing audio is a click or a swipe away. Specifically, we’re learning what it takes to get people to listen past a piece’s beginning and then all the way to the end.
Here’s an example. It shows what happens after more than 700 people began listening to an interview with then-Tribune columnist Melissa Harris.
Note how many listeners, able to skip easily to the next story, bailed before hearing even 25 percent of the two-minute piece. This demonstrates just how hard it is, in a world of unlimited listening possibilities, to get an audience to settle in for an audio segment.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating an interview that can be posted to the web with minimal or no editing, and that, unlike most live radio, can have a long and relevant shelf-life.
The first thing heard in your audio should be a one- or two-sentence version of what’s ahead, beginning with the most interesting and relevant phrases and sounds you can muster. Only after establishing a reason for listeners to stick around should you take time to do things like ID yourself, your show, your guest and your underwriter or sponsor; and, if you must, to insert theme music (which — anecdotally — seems to be a tuneout).
(A sample script intro aimed at minimizing tuneout)
Tip: Incorporate a riveting sound-bite from within the forthcoming interview into your intro. You can carefully craft your “live” intro (the one you read while you’re sitting with your subject), to include a brief pause where you can later insert a cut.
The key is to write an intro that alludes to a question you’re sure you’ll be asking. Example: an interview with two veterans of the Second City comedy organization, Tom Yorton and Kelly Leonard.
Photo credit: Charlie Meyerson
Tip: Spare your listeners the waste of time that is “Thank you for joining us” or “Thanks for being here,” either at the opening or close.
That just brings things to a halt. (Because we all know what comes next: “Great to be here.” Or “Thanks for having me.” And then a brief, awkward pause.)
Keep it moving, start to finish. Thank your guests as profusely as you like — before or after your recorded segment.
You don’t need a lot of them. Anywhere from one to five questions can make a fulfilling interview. Freed of live radio’s need to fill a specific timeslot, digital audio interviews can last just as long as they’re interesting — no need to stretch, no need to edit for length. Just make sure it’s interesting, start to finish. In that regard, shorter is better.
A few notes on questions:
Don’t shout. Your microphone — like that target audience of earbud-wearers — is just an inch or two away.
Tip: Talking conversationally becomes easier when you write conversationally.
Know before your guest completes that final answer that you’ll be jumping in to end the interview. And then just do it. Have your close scripted out and ready to go. For example:
That’s (guest’s title, guest’s name), talking about (brief subject recap). [Optional: Plug for more info (website, phone number, email).] I’m (your name). You’re listening to (name of your feature/organization).
If you’re creating great audio, let us hear about it. Rivet’s not just an audio source; it’s also a publishing platform, where your followers can hear your latest as soon as it’s published — alongside Rivet original programming, our partners’ content and other podcasts.
Audio’s a wonderful, compelling, ubiquitous medium. The audience for creative and original listening’s never been easier to reach. If you share Rivet’s passion for reimagining radio, we’re here to help you create great experiences.
What audio features have kept you riveted for the first 30 seconds or more? What triggers an urge to tune out? Please share in the comments below.