We are often asked why some interviews air live, while others are taped for later use. Our recent conversations with reporters from stations in the top-25 markets that produce news, feature, entertainment segments, and live morning shows, revealed some interesting information. When asked if they prefer to tape or air an interview live, virtually all reporters responded they would choose to tape interviews. Taping interviews allows reporters the ability to air the interview in numerous segments throughout the course of the day and tailor the interview to a segment that might be produced at a later time. It also allows reporters to hold the interview, in case a related story breaks.
Producers share a different side of the story, however. A nearly unanimous consensus of producers revealed that they all prefer to air interviews live. The morning shows rely on content to drive their programs and to generate conversation among their listeners. This is best achieved by having the newsmaker live on the air with their talent. Some shows prefer to take call-ins and this can only be facilitated by having a guest, live, on the air. With that being said, it is important to have spokespeople available during the peak morning drive time between 7:00 a.m. and noon Eastern Time regardless of whether they plan to go live or taped. This timeframe is when stations are most fully staffed, and listenership is at its peak.
Whether a station chooses to go live or taped is not something that has changed drastically in the last two to three years, but the downsizing of newsrooms has limited most reporters’ time, and the 24-hour news cycle has demanded that the live slots go to guests providing feedback on the most newsworthy stories. But, whether an interview is live or taped, the most important factor is to provide content that is timely and/or entertaining enough to get on the radio.