Kent Sterling’s Life as a Radio Guest by kentsterling
March 13, 2010, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Kent Sterling Fired | Tags: ,

by Kent Sterling

Somehow, hilariously I have become an occasionally sought after guest on radio talk shows.  Super Bowl week, I was a semi-regular on a news-talk in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Today, I did an hour on Maureen Anderson’s Career Clinic, which is heard in Spokane, Portland, Fargo, and a town in Illinois.

I am not pursuing these odd opportunities.  People find this website and smell a guy with a lot of free time, I guess.  I do my guess to be concise and enthusiastic, while refraining from the obscene and completely inappropriate.  There is nothing for me to gain by participating in these interviews, but I’ve been on the other end of booking guests and because of that I can’t see myself refusing a request.  There is a reflex that makes me eager to ask just what they believe I am going to bring to a show, but that’s their decision.  I’m not knocking on their doors begging for a chance.

Being a guest is fun – much more fun that hosting.  Generally, the questions are about me or something I know very well.  That makes the process a little more self-indulgent than makes me comfortable, but I’m able to access the small part of my brain that is thrilled by my own self-indulgent rantings.  No host wants a guest who doesn’t find himself interesting, so I pretend.

Today’s interview with Maureen Anderson’s Career Clinic was about being fired and embarking on something new and risky.  Maureen is a good host, and she handles the formattics well.  My energy was split between critiquing her and responding to her questions, which could have made things difficult.  Every once in a while I slid off the point, and had to ramble on until I recalled my original point.

I can see why guests think that being a host is easy and something they might want to pursue.  Being on the radio is enjoyable.  The only tough part of hosting is talking about things about which you have little depth of knowledge and less interest.  The easy answer to that is, don’t talk about those things, but there are PDs who demand the talent be more versatile than they are capable.  That’s when hosts get uncomfortable and stop enjoying their performance.  The only tough part of being a guest is making sure your phone works.  The hosts are the people who do the heavy lifting.  Their job is to hit marks and ask you questions that make the guest sound interesting.  The guest just responds, hopefully concisely with a unique perspective.

I can’t imagine booking a complete stranger for an hour and trusting that I could make him or her interesting.  Fortunately, I have only hosted shows a couple of dozen times, and that means very few restless nights worrying about my inability to find anyone interesting for more than 32-minutes.  By the way, that 32-minutes is not an arbitrary number.  I had lunch with John Griffin two weeks ago, one of the best salespeople with whom I’ve worked, and a guy who has become a friend over the past year after 14 years of working together in an environment of polite (mostly) tolerance.  John told me that in meetings, I was good for 32-minutes.  If someone wanted my attention and energy, they need to get cracking within that time frame, or they will get nothing but sarcasm, mockery, and/or indifference.  When he said that, I was surprised I had matured to the point where I could make it 32-minutes.

Honestly, if John F. Kennedy came back from the dead, and I had the opportunity to interview him, I doubt it would run more than 30-minutes.  Marilyn Monroe, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and finding out whether the story of the PT-109 was a bunch of crap.  That’s about it.  How long would that take?

Maureen spoke to me for an hour.  I had no fancy stories about banging starlets, saving the world from nuclear war or inviting a life of backpain by rescuing shipmates, but I got an hour to tell my story.

Not sure whether my days as a minor AM Radio celebrity in Spokane, Portland, Fargo, a small town in Illinois, and any other place with a microphone and a stick are over, but I highly recommend it if you have an hour to kill.  There are activities that are less fun.  I would dedicate myself to becoming the world’s greatest radio guest, but there is no money in it, and I don’t need another hobby.

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