Communication Tales from the Road

by Betty Lochner on February 27, 2010

Whatever you are, be a good one.
Abraham Lincoln

I just finished a week-long road trip – a media tour of Eastern Washington to promote the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program. It was a week of interesting communication observations — and was quite entertaining.

Here are some highlights:

The very first morning, in Yakima, one of the first interviews of the day was with “Blaze”, the DJ of a hip-hop/rap station. As I walked in the door he announced to his listeners “it’s a middle-finger Monday, and we have a special guest today….”

My assistant, displayed the most horrified look you can imagine. To add to the moment, I was surrounded by posters of half naked rap stars. It was hard to concentrate as I contemplated to what extent they were air-brushed and whether I could ever pull that look off. As I left, Blaze told me I could come back to the “hood” anytime!

When we returned to the car, we looked at each other like “did that really just happen?” and laughed hysterically for several minutes.

Later that day I interviewed across town with a public affairs/news team. I did a live interview first, then was asked me to tape an interview in the next room for a news show to air later. We started the interview and he got called back to do a live news update. The radio show host/news producer told me to continue the interview — just ask myself some questions and answer them, then he would go back and edit in his voice for the question. First time I interviewed myself!

I guess I should be flattered that he trusted me to do this, but I did wonder if I might get “punked” and he would insert different, maybe even embarrassing questions. I never did have the courage to listen to the final interview.

I made sure future interviewers heard the story and knew that I was experienced in interviewing myself – in case they needed to take a short break or something. Most looked at me like I was nuts, but it was a great ice-breaker and made for some fun interviews.

The week continued to be entertaining –

  • We met a large, “redneck” looking man at Taco Bell who had a mini-dachshund named “boo-boos” waiting for him outside.
  • We learned that if you stop at a truck stop you can only buy over-sized food and you can buy a scratch pad that has a picture of a man scratching his behind (of course, I couldn’t resist buying one for my husband).
  • We listened to a 3-hour CD titled How to get people to like you in 90 seconds

As the week went on we had many more adventures. My word of the week – “Awesome” – as in, after an interview “you guys do an awesome job”, this one made the DJs feel like they were doing their job well (remember, catch someone doing something well and tell them!) and we were given an open invitation to return at almost all of our interview stops.

Four Communication Lessons Learned

1) Watch out for distractions – sometimes they come even when you are fully prepared, and almost always when you least expect them.
2) Be ready to employ your active listening skills. Stick to your plan and focus on doing the best you can do regardless of the circumstances.
3) Make the most out of every situation – have some fun and be ready for anything.
4) Always appreciate those around you, from the interviewers to the Taco Bell cashier, and watch the benefits multiply.

It was a long, but successful week. Over 40 radio interviews and 2 TV interviews – nothing quite matched up the the hilarity of the first day. But, that day set the tone for the week and reminded us not to take ourselves so seriously.

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