We’re airing an interview tonight with Tavis Smiley about his new book in which he cites 20 mistakes and the lessons he learned from them. One of them involved a time when he was in the studio getting ready to interview a renowned filmmaker via remote hook-up in another city. The subject of the interview was the guest’s new movie. Unbeknownst to Smiley, his microphone was hot and the remote guest heard Smiley say to his studio crew that he’d seen the new movie and that it was a “piece of ****.” When Smiley discovered that his microphone was live and that the guest had heard his remark, he immediately apologized. The interview was going to be live and naturally Smiley did not want a hostile guest.
Too late. The interview did not go well. Terse answers throughout. It was excrutiating for the host–and presumably for the viewers. And the relationship between the filmmaker and Smiley was never the same.
All rookie broadcasters are taught to assume that a mic is always hot and that someone can hear whatever you’re saying. Smiley say’s he re-learned that lesson the hard way. I recently re-learned it, too. Details tomorrow.