It is really hard to have an interview show if you have no one to interview. Luckily, finding guests is a lot easier than you might think. Andy Warhol is quoted as saying, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." We would follow that up with, "but most people are really looking for at least 15 hours." Truth be told, you as a podcaster definitely fall into this group, and there is nothing wrong with that. As a host of a show where you will be doing interviews, oftentimes you will be offering people a chance to extend that 15 minutes. You will find the hard part is not convincing people to come on your show, but rather it is letting them know you have a show to come on to.
One podcast that really exemplifies extending those 15 minutes of fame for the everyday person is the Small World Podcast, by Bazooka Joe. He goes out each day and interviews everyone from the guy next door to the person who claims to have dated the person that saw Elvis being abducted by aliens. Joe offered us this advice on where to find guests:
We mentioned earlier that it is easy to get guests, and if you are looking for noncelebrities, this is really true. However, if you are looking to get someone you might see on the cover of People magazine, it is going to take a lot more work and either a lot of luck or a really good job of networking.
Erich Bergen, host of Green Room Radio (www.greenroomradio.com), has had some great guests on his podcast, including such celebrities as Donny Osmond and Don McLean (who wrote the song "American Pie"). We asked Erich how he was able to get some of his guests. Here is what he said:
No, our advice is not to hit Erich up for his contacts, but rather to hit up the contacts you already have. Talk to your friends, relatives, and coworkers for possible leads for guests (now, if you are doing a show about bondage and sexual role playing, you may want to skip hitting up your relatives and coworkers for leads). Each time you do an interview, ask the guest (off the air, of course) if he or she knows of anyone else who might enjoy coming on your show. If you do a good job on the interview and treat the guest with respect, there is a good chance that person will mention your show to some friends or associates.
Finally, make sure the guests you pick fit the framework of your show and fit the mold your listeners expect. Don't jump the shark. It would not make much sense to interview Paris Hilton on a show about interviewing sports celebrities (unless she suddenly decides to became a tennis star or something). We are sure she would make an interesting guest, but would she really fit on that type of show? Make sure you stick with guests that fit your show and don't bring on someone famous just for the sake of it. Make some guidelines for what constitutes a good guest for your show. Later on down the line, if you think you want to go outside this guideline, present it to your listeners and let them know that you will be bringing on some new types of guests.
Dr. David Van Nuys from Shrink Rap Radio, a podcast where he interviews other psychologists, had this to say about what he is looking for in guests:
Table 7.1 contains a good list of places to look for potential guests of all flavors. If you are looking specifically for celebrities, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB Pro) site is a great place to start. The hosts of The Signal used IMDB Pro to get Ron Glass, Gina Torres, and Adam Baldwin on their show. Because you only get a free 14-day trial (see Figure 7.1), figure out a long list of potential guests before you sign up and then spend as much time looking through the site and printing out as much contact information as you can before the 14 days are up.
Figure 7.1. The site IMDB Pro includes a free 14-day trial and can be useful in recruiting celebrity guests.