Anna Maria Tremonti, host of the CBC Radio One’s The Current, stopped by the King’s Journalism School today to talk with students. In a question-and-answer session, she shared personal stories from her early days as a local journalist in New Glasgow, N.S. to becoming a foreign correspondent and now host of a daily radio current affairs program.
The advice she imparted ranged from pragmatic to esoteric. Here are seven highlights:
- “Get the microphone in with the chickens.” As it pertains to audio—and coincidentally she was speaking on World Radio Day (Feb. 13)—she emphasized the importance of recording ambient sound when you’re in the field to help set a scene.
- “Listen.” Anna Maria shared that she might have 15 to 20 questions prepared in advance, but once an interview begins they usually don’t flow sequentially. Take your cues from the people you’re interviewing. Research, she said, is also essential. Knowing what you want to get out of your sources will inform what questions you ask.
- “Stay in the zone,” during interviews, she advised. Don’t think about other things, just know that person.
- “Give people space,” during interviews, especially those who’ve been through trauma. Allow for silent moments.
- “Get peoples’ phone numbers or emails” after you interview them, in case you have follow-up questions.
- “Try to understand where you are (geographically).” Anna Maria shared that when she lived in Jerusalem she did this by spending time at the local market and talking to people like the rug vendor and youth. When living in Berlin, she got to know the city by reading books—fiction and non-fiction. “Try to see places through the literary culture. At times novelists grab the zeitgeist of a country in ways a journalist won’t,” Anna Maria said.
- “Sit in someone’s living room.” It will always be different than emailing or phoning.
King’s is grateful to Anna Maria for her time and insights.