Tape Notes: The art of the interview

Audio veteran John Kennedy on how he gets the best out of guests

Podcasts are fundamentally about conversation, and interview shows have long been a staple of the medium. Few podcasts can boast as star-studded a catalogue as Tape Notes, however, which has spent the last six years interviewing a who’s-who of top music acts from Blur to Bicep.

But how does a podcast get such high-profile talent on the show in the first place, and how do you get the best out of them when they’re there? In this week’s episode, Rhianna Dhillon and Adam Shepherd speak to John Kennedy, Tape Notes host and veteran Radio X DJ, about his approach to interviewing, how to put guests at ease, and why microphone discipline is a challenge even for those who spend their lives in front of them.

Key takeaways

Podcasters are rejecting radio sound 

Within the company that I work for, Global, with RadioX, they started changing their studios. So you'd have all these different studios there to record shows in, or do live broadcasting from. But then they started to have an option whereby if you were recording a podcast, you could record without the compression on the microphone and you could have a different switch, which used the microphone in a different way, which I thought was really interesting. 

And that was, I think, a response to podcasting because suddenly you'd find you'd record a voiceover using the normal microphone setup and you'd put it within your podcast world, and it would sound too radio, somehow. And it would lose some of that intimacy that you would get with the way that people are recording podcasts now. And I thought that was really interesting.

Even the professionals make mistakes

I think actually everybody has forgotten to press record. I did an interview with John Cooper Clark a few years ago, and he was such a charming, interesting person to speak to. We started the interview, we're chatting away, and then I realised I hadn't started to record - and we were talking for 10 minutes, and he was so kind about it. He didn't bat an eye. I mean, that's 'cause he was a really, really nice guy. I felt like such an idiot, and such a fool. 

Teamwork makes the dream work

One of the the things that excited me about doing Tape Notes is that I was working with other people. So I've been working in radio and I actually am the producer of the show I've been doing for all this time, and I edit all the interviews. 

So the idea of not editing and not having to go through that process was really exciting and something that I've really enjoyed. So I don't mind if we go for three and a half hours, 'cause hey, I'm not the one who's going to listen to it. Tim and Will, who I work with, they unfortunately have to put up with all that.


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