Silence is (not) golden

We all have our crutch words and phrases. They're said out of habit, and the habit is not necessarily a destructive sort of thing. But with me, it's recently come to my attention why I use them and often sound nervous when I do interviews.

Consider the fact that I worked in radio for ten years. Long pauses of silence on the air is not allowed, unless it's a live talk show. If a song or a commercial didn't fire off, a program director is prone to run and scream, "Dead air! Dead air!" I understand why this is something to cause tremendous concern since the sound of silence is the sound of money flying away.

But when I'm interviewing an artist, money isn't flying away when there's a pause. No, that's just me nervous about having an awkward pause. I hate awkwardness and I try to steer clear of it as much as I can.

I conducted an interview last week where things were nowhere near relaxed. Hence the crutch words came out in full force, especially, "I gotcha." The guy called me 45 minutes late and I only had 15 minutes to talk before I had to head to an appointment. The guy was incredibly apologetic about his tardiness (being on tour is always a scramble with floating deadlines and destinations) and I was nervous about asking stupid questions. Luckily, the guy gave me great answers and I hope I made a coherent article out of what he said.

Back when I was working on Post, I started talking in a fast-paced way to keep up with those who spoke that way. This kept the conversation going, but it certainly made a lasting effect on me after the tape recorder was stopped. When I go out and meet up with friends these days, the rapid-fire is frequently on. I have friends who speak that way, and if I can't get something in a three-second window, I'll be cut off. And I hate being cut off.

I find it hard to relax, especially when a publicist tells me that I have 15 minutes. I learned long ago to ask detailed questions and avoid superficial nonsense. Do your research and look for things that intrigue you. You don't have room to bog down the time, so you better ask the best questions before time is up.

I enjoy talking to new people, but I certainly don't enjoy listening to myself nervously getting through a conversation. Makes me think what the person I'm interviewing thinks. So whenever I'm interviewed, I try to be as helpful and approachable as possible, because I know what it's like to be in the hot seat.

And I try not to have any silence between my sentences.


Ted said…
You can take the boy out of radio...