In February 2007, I did my first radio interview. It was a disaster. I was a nervous wreck. I swore I’d never do another interview on live radio again.
In the past eighteen months, I’ve held true to that promise. I’ve given probably a dozen interviews for newspaper and magazines, given several recorded radio interviews, and even done one recorded television interview. But I’ve avoided live interviews like the plague.
Last week, I was contacted by a producer from “On Point”, an NPR program I’ve never heard before. He asked if I’d be willing to speak about credit cards and credit card debt. Despite my vow of radio silence, I agreed. I felt like the topic would stick to themes with which I was familiar, and that I could do okay even if nervous.
And I was nervous. “We need you to use a landline,” the producer told me, so I drove out this morning to Custom Box Service. I sat by the phone for a half an hour, working myself into knots. Having learned from my previous disaster, I had just a few notes instead of pages and pages.
When the show called, the connection was lousy, as if we were talking over a garbled cell phone. They called back. This time I could hear them fine. I stayed on the line for a few minutes while Professor Elizabeth Warren, one of the Good Guys, described slimy credit card tactics. Then it was my turn.
The host asked questions I could answer. (Part of the problem with the previous poor radio interview was that the host wanted me to answer questions for which I was unqualified to give an opinion.) I felt that, although nervous, I was doing a decent job on the interview. I even remembered to smile at some points.
Then, all of a sudden, the interview was cut short. “I’m sorry, J.D.,” she said, “but we’ve got a poor connection. Thanks for being on.” When the producer came back on the line, he told me it sounded like I was on a cell phone.
At least I was undone this time by a technical glitch and not by personal stupidity. I don’t think I came off sounding like a fool. But perhaps I sounded like I was underwater. I don’t know.
Maybe the third time’s the charm?