Conventional wisdom would tell you that doing a radio interview in the actual studio would be a more comfortable, natural experience than conducting it over the phone. But that’s just another proof point for how conventional wisdom gets its name.
As I found this weekend, being face-to-face with the host is not that big of an advantage. In fact, it’s a bit of a distraction. The host has a hundred things to do. He’s got producers barking into his earphones, a clock to watch, callers’ questions to monitor, IMs to read, things to look up, notes to review and a bunch of other things.
And in the case of WGN in Chicago, they’ve got gaggles of Michigan Avenue tourists with their noses pressed to the glass, watching and waving and, in the case of one kid, tapping on the glass. (They need a little a warning message on the window like the ones at a aquariums).
So even though the host is, remarkably, actually paying attention in the midst of all that, it’s pretty disconcerting. I think I prefer the phone, where I can happily imagine my “audience” absolutely rapt and appearing to hang on my every word.
Of course the real audience is out there listening. The host is more of a conduit. But they’re the ones you have to play to.