This week’s radio programme at batemanbroadcasting.com is a special…a conversation with Alex Salmond. I was keen to hear from the First Minister because every time he appears it’s in a formal setting like the parliament chamber or behind a podium and sometimes under pressure in a studio.
That’s normal and how it should be. The journalists and the opposition have a duty to challenge and scrutinise, it’s how our system works. But I’m fed up with only having this kind of presentation because I know how it works – a battery of arguments are prepared and an interview is really a grilling. Done it myself, got the tee shirt.
One of the formats politicians hate most is long-form interviews where they really do have to know their stuff. They can’t just punt a one-line or two-line message to the audience whatever they’re asked, they sometimes contradict themselves, their irritability rises, they have to reach deep when moved from subject to subject and overall it can be very revealing. In a bad one, it is like a slow motion car crash.
I am also desperate to hear what people really think. So many interviews end up being as much about the presenter – and the programme team’s worked-up agenda – as they are about the interviewee and the subject. They become gladiatorial, ego against ego, a fight to the death after which you ask yourself: What did I learn?
It is a necessary process for news programmes, as is deciding in advance to limit the time available no matter what the content is and how good it sounds. But what about the other side of our politicians? When do they let the mask slip? Are they real humans behind the image front?
I’ve been learning from public meetings around the country – Arran tomorrow – that people do want to listen, appraise and think for themselves and I like the idea of the conversation being taken out of the mouths of the journalists and put back into the voices of the people. I’ve ditched the old style BBC techniques in favour of letting them speak. I allow them to develop naturally their arguments and in this case, it is in front of a live audience so that Alex has to reach out to them, not to me.
The result is a different kind of talk. We hear him get passionate and thoughtful, talking about his early life and love of history and what angers him and what Scotland needs to do next. He is unrestrained – at times unstoppable! He is relaxed and in his element. We must do this with the other leaders and let them breathe. This is Salmond Unplugged. Have a listen and let me know your thoughts. It’s at http://batemanbroadcasting.com/episode-4-audience-alex-salmond/by