Month of action on military spending
Raise awareness by calling a local radio station phone in show
With a little preparation, talking to your local radio phone-in needn’t be scary. Always remember that the interviewer isn’t usually trying to catch you out. They want you to do well, and share what you have to say with their listeners. Use our guide below to help you prepare.
Step 1: Find your local station contact information and request to call in to a phone in show.
Step 2: Prepare for your interview.
If you have access to a landline phone, consider using it. It’s better quality, more reliable, and radio stations prefer it.
To make sure you have all the information you need to prepare, there are a few things it might help to ask the producer before your interview:
- Will the interview be live or pre-recorded? If it’s pre-recorded, you can ask to start an answer again if you need to.
- How long will the interview be, and what kind of questions will you be asked?
- Ask if they’re inviting other guests or callers on the show, so you’re not caught off guard if someone takes a different view.
It’s a good idea to write down three key messages you want to communicate in preparation for the interview, and practice them out loud. For example:
- Over the next 4 years, the UK will spend 8 times more on the military than it will on tackling the climate crisis.
- Nuclear warheads are being increased while we cut our local health services and overseas aid for world’s poorest people.
- We need to defund the military, and invest in [talk about your local needs here].
The interviewer may say something surprising or ask something you’re not sure about. If they do, just acknowledge their point, admitting if you don’t know the answer (that’s okay!) and say what you want to say: “I don’t know the answer to that, but what I do know is..”
Try and say one memorable thing, more than once.
Don’t forget people might be doing something else at the same time. To make sure people listen and remember, try to use a phrase that will grab their attention. If you can hear it’s your last question, try to close with real emphasis, giving one of your ‘key messages’.
An interviewer for local radio won’t usually try and catch you out, but they may talk about the other side of the argument to give you a chance to counter it. So think through some tricky questions they might come up with and practice how you would respond. E.g. “We need the jobs, especially right now.” or, “There’s nothing wrong with a country defending itself.”
Keep it clear, friendly and concise.
Remember people often listen to the radio while doing something else like driving or cooking, so keep your points short and simple. Speak as you would to a friend who doesn’t know anything about the issue, avoiding any jargon. Don’t use lots of stats and numbers, as they can be overwhelming and boring. Stick to one or two at most – and make sure they’re right!
Talk about the human impact of the arms trade – and the alternatives.
Clearly tell listeners the problem, and how investing in the military harms people around the world, as well as the alternatives. For example: “The UK has licensed £16 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia since the war in Yemen began 6 years ago, which the UN has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. But we can invest in industries that make our planet a safer place..”
Breathe, smile and relax.
Remember that you’ve been invited on the show because you have something interesting and important to say, which they think listeners want to hear. Try to relax, and smile. You may feel you’re not an expert – you don’t have to be – and you will know more than the radio host.
Thank you so much for taking action to raise awareness for the month of action on military spending. Good luck!
Please let us know if you reach out to your local radio show by emailing email@example.com
Credit to Friends of the Earth UK for the tips from their excellent local media guide.