Now, I’ve been interviewed on radio several times but I haven’t done much on television, other than a few scrums when I was a lawyer and a late night interview as one of the election observers during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine a few years back.
But as I’m sure most of you know, as well as being an author and visual artist, I’m a realtor. It occurred to me, looking over my local cable schedule, that Rogers TV didn’t have a programme on real estate.
So I pitched the producer on a concept for an ask-the-expert format. (Believe me, once you’ve queried agents, pitching a TV show is a piece of cake.) And was totally shocked when Rogers TV told me they thought it was a great idea. That was about three weeks ago, and here I am now, about to host my own TV show!
We’ve had two production test runs already. One was to do a photo shoot and promo and introduce me to the set; the second was to do the second promo that will run in the days before an episode airs, and also to do a mini-show with ear-mikes etc.
Yesterday, I invited some of the people who will be my guests and we did a practice run with them all miked up, too. The show will be live when it airs and the producers wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, whereas I wanted to make sure my regular guests were comfortable and knew what to expect. We had a lot of fun!
What I discovered is that hosts do an incredible amount of juggling!
There is an earbud in your ear that allows the producer to communicate what’s going on: for example, two minutes left, one minute left, 30 seconds, 15 seconds to break or closing; repeat the phone number, you have Sarah on the line.
And so while I’m asking questions, listening, nodding to the guests, paying attention to their comments and trying to keep the discussion focussed, I have another part of my brain that’s carrying on a silent conversation, figuring out timing and how to get the caller on-air without interrupting my guest, how to avoid dead air and at the same time, watching a floor director (who stands beside the cameras) count down the seconds to a break, commercial or close.
We have a little bit of leeway when it comes to soft breaks but we really have to nail that closing: if we’re more than a few seconds over, we get cut off, and that was a challenge, believe me.
Whew – what a ride!
I have to say the production crew at Rogers TV were fantastic (Sarah, Sean and Ali — thanks!) as were my guests: Mark Arbique, a local lawyer who I’ve known for about 20 years; Cathy Macdonald, a mortgage broker, and Micheline Masson, a home stager.
Where I screwed up was missing a close because I thought the producers would continue counting down after 15 seconds (they don’t); and wearing a dress instead of a suit (turns out that placing that microphone in a tight dress can be a little, err, challenging).
I also need to remember to look at the camera more often (there are three, but one is mine exclusively) and also to announce the phone number more frequently. But other than that, the producer and director thought things went smoothly; the guests were comfortable and chatty as well as professional, and they thought the content was interesting.
And what more, really, can you ask for, than that?
The first in the series of Ottawa Experts: Real Estate airs live on October 1 and then every four weeks until mid-January. There will be other Ottawa Expert shows with different hosts in the intervening weeks: one on work-life balance, one on employment issues and a psychic (yes, a psychic!) who is supposed to be unbelievable. (I mean that in the good way, not the – OMG, I don’t believe him.)
So if you’re in Ottawa, make sure you tune in on Monday evenings at 8 PM, cable 22. We’ll be on for a full hour and I think we’ll have a blast! (I also think that going out for a beer after to discuss and decompress will be a necessary part of the ritual.)