Friday, October 24, 2008
Pam in the Hot Seat
Today is a milestone ~ I survived my first week on air. It was perhaps the single, most stressful week of my life (second only to going into labour with my twins).
After playing "interviewer" as a print journalist for 5 years, and being on the "safe side" of the radio console in The Living Room this week, I find myself in an unfamiliar, slightly uncomfortable position.
Yes, my buddy Stan has yet another brainwave: Why not shove Pam onto The Living Room couch, turn the microphone her way, and put Pam on the hot seat?!
So here I am sitting on the couch of The Living Room (blog), and facing a barrage of questions from my *ahem* buddy. But since he has been so Zen towards me all week - despite my countless boo boos - I shall oblige. So *inhale* here goes:
Q: So Pam, I hear that you didn't know talking could be so difficult until you made your debut on air this past week. What do you mean by talking not being an easy thing to do?
First of all, I learnt after the first 5 minutes on air that "talking" in everyday life is different from "talking" on air. Normally, words flow naturally for me (punctuated of course by the "erms" and "aahs", "lors" and "lahs"). But on air.... every #@!* word counts. I can't ramble like an airhead, rephrase sentences countless times, nor even pause to think. I'm warned "dead air" is the worst sin in radio! So I find myself like a baby learning to talk. It's really hard! Listening to myself on playback, I cringe because I sound so hesitant and unprofessional. *shudder*
Q: You were previously working with a magazine where words flowed easily onto a page. Isn’t it easy to just convert that to the spoken form and let it flow on air just as seamlessly?
Er, no. With the written word, there is such a thing as "editing". I came over to radio from being Deputy Editor of Vanilla magazine. Writing is the most natural form of self-expression for me ~ it still is. Speaking, on the other hand, is not. So, I have to tell you that I do sometimes wonder what on earth I'm doing in radio! *sheepish grin* When I write a cover story, for example, I have the luxury of 2-3 days to write and rewrite, to choose and unchoose words. On average: 7 drafts. With radio, it's LIVE and real-time. I don't have that luxury to be anal over words. It's say something or die.
Q: What have you learnt about being a radio talkshow host and news presenter in the first week you’ve been on air?
Hang on, I have not started being a news presenter what! But being a radio talkshow host, you have to hold intelligent and engaging conversations with experts, so you need to know your stuff because seriously there are topics Stanley and I know nothing about. Like this week: We discussed airline merchandising, trends in the marketing and communications industry, picky eaters, hair loss etc. It's a constant pressure to be on your toes, to pay attention to the flow of the conversation, and to ask questions that count. It's draining!
Also, it helps if you are witty and funny. Stanley is such a natural at that! *grin* I can be, off-air, but I guess I'm still not relaxed enough to show that side of my personality. But I'm sure it will shine through soon, once I get the hang of switching my headset mic on & off... presenting the traffic news... and not sounding like I'm "reading" a script!
Being co-hosts, we have to be "in sync" with each other. If not, our individual questions can take the interview off at different tangents. So, I've learnt that co-hosting entails having one "lead" interviewer (whoever is producing that segment) who steers that conversation, and one who "supports". But of course, both are 100% involved and equally engaged. It's a fine balance.
Q: Any boo-boos so far that you’d like to ‘fess up to?
Well, I messed up on traffic news 3 times on Wednesday morning! I listened to the playback of those reports and I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. What's more. I forgot to immediately switch off my headset's mic after one traffic report. As I slapped my forehead with my palm and uttered a "shit" under my breath, I saw Stanley desperately gesturing to me to press the "OFF" button on my panel. I fumbled to tap "OFF" (to the amusement of our studio guests, I'm sure), praying all the while that no one heard my swear word on air!
Q: We hear Stanley had an identity crisis at mid-week. What happened?
YES! Stanley was hilarious! Just when we were seconds from finally going off-air, Stanley signs off chirpily, "... and this is Pamela..." My jaw dropped. After an incredulous pause, the whole roomful of us burst into laughter! Yes, yes... it was all captured on air. But Stanley pleaded for me to edit it from our repeat telecast, so those who caught the repeat show at 11.10pm didn't hear his boo-boo. I've decided though that the next time Stan decides to be Pamela Ho, I shall chime in breezily, "... and this is Stanley Leong, on The Living Room."
Q: This blog’s the next big thing that’s happened for The Living Room and you are one half of the contributors. How would you describe how the blog’s been shaping up so far just two weeks in?
I think what's great is that Stanley and I believe this blog is a great way to reach out to our listeners in a more personal way, so naturally, we tell people about it ~ be it personal friends, listeners we meet at events (like the Coffee Appreciation workshop last Saturday), our studio guests etc. It hardly seems a chore or extra work for us because we have so much to share at the end of each day. And we both diligently bring our cameras into the studio everyday to take pics and blog. What helps is that we operate like a tag team: Stan writes, then I write, then he writes. So it's all good! *beams*
Q: What secrets can you leak about your co-host on air that you can reveal without being at risk of losing your microphone on Monday?
Well, most of you may already know by now that Stanley plays with Smurfs. His favourite is Jokey Smurf who, for some warped reason, gives others presents that explode in their faces. As a qualified psychologist (I am, seriously), I think Stanley lives vicariously through Jokey Smurf, because he's usually so nice. Stan owns like almost 200 Smurfs, including mushroom houses that can hold like 5-6 Smurfs inside, "standing-room only". I found out from his Facebook wall that as a kid, he didn't allow his cousins to touch his precious blue buddies; he'd only agree to let them play with ONE at a time. *slap wrist*
Stanley is usually very quiet after he goes off-air... for about 20 minutes. He sits at his desk, poking away at his keyboard. I think it's because he has verbal diarrhoea for 2 hours, so he needs time to replenish. Then after that 20 minutes, *Ping!* Good ole' Stan snaps back and he says, "Shall we tabao lunch from the canteen?"
I don't think Stanley has any deep, dark secrets. He's quite Mr Squeaky Clean. But I shall reveal that his desk looks like a war zone, and he is a tad embarrassed about it. He once had only a small, small space to move his computer mouse around. He can't even eat at his desk after tabao-ing lunch back from canteen cos he doesn't know where to put his packet of rice! *gasp* It's better now, I must admit. For now, at least. *wink*
If you don't believe me, take a look: