I’ve interviewed a number of people in my 10 years doing this community journalism thing. I draw inspiration and tips from my favorite interviewers.
Philadelphia black radio has been blessed with a few great ones: Reggie Bryant was probably the best on WHAT and WURD, but Nick Taliaferro runs a close second. The most entertaining was Mt. Airy Phil (Phil Allen) but he can’t keep a job for some reason or another. Former Bill Clinton advisor, Dick Morris, was great on WPHT. Michel Martin of NPR is incredible. Even more incredible is how she can’t get more time on air with them. Colin Cowherd is my favorite TV sports interviewer on Fox. Howard Cosell and Dan Rather are my favorites from the old school era.
But when it comes to my all-time favorite interviewer, it’s been Howard Stern for over 20 years. I usually keep that to myself because everyone views Stern as the obnoxious blowhard who relies on crazy antics and sex talk. But just like Playboy magazine was known for its photos, it was one of the greatest sources of the greatest long interviews featuring important people talking important issues in print, for decades. (I only got Playboy for the interviews – honestly).
Since Howard Stern has left terrestrial radio for satellite radio, I haven’t listened to him much. Surprising to me, it seems that satellite radio is exposing listeners and celebrities to Stern’s interviewing prowess.
Stern has a way of pulling more information out of his guests than anyone I’ve heard. He has complete control the entire time and takes the conversation exactly where he wants it to go.
The best current example of that was on Jerry Seinfeld’s show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I’ve watch almost all the episodes and only when Howard Stern was Seinfeld’s guest did Seinfeld lose control of his own interview show. Stern was in total command of the entire show and Seinfeld had nothing to defend himself.
Today in the Twitter-verse, I ran across a New York Times article that confirms Howard Stern is a great interviewer. It enjoyed reading his tips to a great interview.
It’s taken a lot longer for the experts to recognize what I’ve seen for a very long time, but that doesn’t make me an expert.
Or does it?