It’s time I come clean with the viewers of Maine TV, I’m the Chris Falrey of 207. I can do the odd interview here and there (with some competence), but when I hit something that I am a big fan of; I geek out. I can’t hide my enthusiasm, or my excitement, that I am interviewing someone I am in awe of.
I can’t help but gush over how much I love the person’s show/writing/talent. During my Doctor Who interview with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, I called Karen by her character name, Amy Pond, which you should never do.
Being a TV and broadcast journalism geek, I can tell you that with all certainty there is no better, or tougher, interviewer than Rob Caldwell.
I’ve worked with Rob for ten years now, and absolutely no one compares to him in terms of asking though, thoughtful, and fair questions. He knows how to ask the question that gets an answer the viewer will find interesting and engaging.
One of the elements of a good interview is not making it about you. This is a very hard lesson for many ego driven TV types.
In your mind you’re thinking, “well I’m on TV too, people know who I am. They obviously want me to interject what I think and feel into this conversation.” No, the viewers want you to ask the questions that make the interview all about the person they’ve tuned into see, which is not always going to be you.
Rob Caldwell gets this, as many other good interviewers do too. It’s becoming less and less of a common practice though. As we become our own mini stars, with TV and social media, a good reporter must remember what they’re there to do; tell a story.
What happens though, as in my case, when you just want to do the interview for yourself? Yes — I know it’s not about me, but it kind of is. I want to ask the questions I want to ask because I’m a fan. I don’t want to waste the few precious moments I have with this talented person setting up a question for people who are new to them. I want to get right to my super geeky, often inside, question.
Sadly, that’s irresponsible and I know it because I’ve watched Rob for the last ten years do the right thing every time. Whenever I get into a situation I can’t think my way out of, I think; “what would Rob do?” My Caldwell instinct always kicks in and I do the right thing.
It’s hard to stay responsible when you are a big fan. That’s where his years of experience trumps anything that can be taught. I know he’s interviewed many people he’s a big fan of, but he knows how to words things in a way that does the job for both fan and viewer. With an author, or an actor, you ask questions that will appeal to a general audience — not the niche audience.
I’m trying to find those precious words now as I struggle to ask the right questions of someone I am a big fan of (someone who doesn’t want a lot of gushing or fanfare). It’s where I see just how good Rob is, and how I need more experience. I need a couple of failures to know just how to do it right. Thought, let’s be honest, who wants to go on TV and fail in front of everyone? It’s not really failure; it’s more like a coach examining a good play to se where it can be done better the next time.
So I’ve gone back into my geekness and examined how I can do it better this time. How will I do? I have no idea, I’ll let the other fans and viewers decide that when the interview airs.