Time to talk – Jill Misson

26th September 2023

Originally posted to

This post was written by our guest author, Jill Misson.  Jill Misson is a freelance writer and broadcaster with over 20 years of experience working on radio stations in the UK and around the world. As a presenter and producer, she has hosted programmes, podcasts and documentaries for the BBC and BFBS. 

“We have all the time in the world,” sang Louis Armstrong in his gorgeous gravelly voice. The famous crooner savours those lyrics, pausing to let the words sink in. He actually only has 3 minutes and 14 seconds to make a lasting impact before the track ends and time’s up.

As a radio presenter sitting in a studio, I can watch a song count down on the screen in front of me, poised to start talking as the music fades. Timings are absolutely crucial as every hour of a show has a running order that has been planned in advance by producers who piece together the content of the programme like a jigsaw. Certain features have to happen at specific times, like traffic reports or news bulletins, so it is important to always keep an eye on the clock.

It helps to understand that time pressure when you are taking part in a radio interview as a guest. The allotted time slot for your conversation may only be fairly brief but you can still achieve a great deal and make the experience worthwhile.

Last minute

When someone gets in touch out of the blue to arrange a meeting, it is usual practice to both consult your diaries and come to a mutual agreement based on your availability. However, if you get the opportunity to appear on a radio show, it may not be quite as flexible. Sometimes a producer will be forward planning for the following week or month but more often they are working to a tight deadline towards the next day’s programme. For breaking news and current affairs you can even be asked to appear within hours to give a more immediate reaction or comment.

Although it can be daunting to suddenly be expected to speak at short notice, on the plus side there is less time for anxiety to build in anticipation. Talk to the producer to find out the focus of the interview and ask how long it is likely to be for. Prepare yourself by deciding on the key messages you are keen to get across and jot them down as bullet points to glance at to jog your memory. It is always a good idea to have a trial run and even if you haven’t got someone to play the part of the interviewer, you should practise saying your answers out loud. Try challenging yourself to get to the point quickly. You could set a timer to get a better idea of how long your answer is then come up with a more concise explanation.

Over and out

After working up to your big moment it may feel disappointing when the whole thing is finished after five minutes. The length of time will depend on the format of the programme but don’t feel you have been cut off because you were boring, it is simply time to move on to the next item on the agenda. If your discussion was about an issue in the news it may also be clipped so that a short soundbite can be included later in the newsreader’s bulletins.

Your radio debut is now out of the way so next time you are asked to appear on air you will feel more confident and able to accept knowing what to expect. By maintaining a positive rapport with the producers and presenter they are more likely to invite you back for a repeat

performance. By sharing expert knowledge on a particular subject or industry, your name or organisation should be added to their contacts database and come up in future to call again.

Spread the word

Harness social media to extend the reach beyond those who would usually listen to that radio station at that time. Ahead of your interview spread the word by telling your followers to tune in and share a link to listen live. Afterwards, you can post again sharing a link to listen back online. Your on-air experience is likely to be a topic of conversation when you see clients or meet people in the local community who want to chat about your five minutes of fame.

When the offer comes through to take part in a radio interview or a podcast, say yes. By making the most of the time available you can maximise the potential of the opportunity.

You can read Jill’s previous blog on preparing to be on air here


About Carnsight Communications

At Carnsight Communications we create strategies and campaigns to showcase our clients’ brilliant work through PR, content and social media. We help them get noticed by the right audience, at the right time. We specialise in creative agency PR.

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