John Briggs Books

And yours, too!

One Way to Land an Interview

My interview on The Historians

Every once in awhile something falls into your lap, but if you don’t act on it, it will slip through your legs like a bad-hop grounder. While doing the Autumn Leaves Book Fair (better known as The Chronicle Book Fair) in Glens Falls last month, I agreed to join a panel discussion on the art of writing history. I guess given my books on Mary Dyer, Pete Seeger, and Judy Garland, I was the biographer in the group.

Then, a few days before the book fair, the organizers asked if I wouldn’t mind moderating the panel. I agreed, even though I now knew I’d be losing more than an  hour of selling time at my author’s table. I quickly researched the other authors on the panel so I could ask them questions and keep things moving along. There’s not much worse at a book fair than a boring panel of authors!

To my delight, one of the panelists was local radio legend Bob Cudmore, who has written several books on the history of nearby Mohawk Valley. I’ve known of Bob for years because, like I said, he’s a a local radio legend with an unbelievable voice that probably sounds good reading the phone book.

Well, anyway, we did the panel, and it went very smoothly. Bob, as well as the other authors, were entertaining and informative, and we filled up our hour easily. As the presentation ended, the authors headed back to our various tables, but I decided to follow Bob and thank him. You see, we know some of the same people in radio, and in fact, I had been on several of their shows, including that of Bob’s podcast partner, Dave Green. I name-dropped some mutual friends, including Dave’s wife, and mentioned that Bob and I only live one town apart.

He asked me if I wanted to be on his podcast, and I, of course, said yes. After all, that was a big reason I approached him in the first place. I’m not saying that’s why he put me on the air, or that it was entirely my motivation, but striking up a conversation with a reporter after doing my homework on him didn’t hurt.

So that’s the point here. It isn’t enough that a reporter knows something about you — you should know something about him or her, too. It helps them remember you, and it makes the interview flow better, as if it is a conversation and not a simple rote version of a Q&A. In other words, research your media options almost as well as you research facts for your stories.

Bob Cudmore and Dave Green host The Historians, a podcast devoted exclusively to history. If you love that subject as much as I do, I recommend you check out their program here. I also suggest you check out all the historians that appeared on the program with me (the November 24, 2015 broadcast). In the meantime, here’s my three-minute interview from The Historians.

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