On July 8, my Tara Summers interview went live on The Daily Quirk, you can read it here: http://thedailyquirk.com/2013/07/08/tara-summers-interview/. It also officially marked month number one on the job, and what a month it’s been! Full of lessons learned and plenty to do. I had mentioned in my last post that I wanted to save my Tara Summer’s experience for later and this is why. As a warning… this one is going to be a long one!
The day before my interview with Tara Summers I had spoken with Gildart Jackson. That interview went extremely well, so well in fact I was surprised. It was my first time interviewing anyone of celebrity status, and I expected it to all fall apart. When it didn’t, I felt a slight sense of relief. Well, needless to say my second time interviewing a celebrity didn’t go nearly as smoothly.
The day started with her publicist calling me asking to move the schedule back three and a half hours because she had a last minute appointment come up. That was fine by me, it gave me a little more time to prep and I of all people understand that stuff happens.
When she finally got around to calling me, I felt relaxed and ready to tackle the interview. The conversation lasted about 20 minutes in total, and at the end of the interview I was excited. All the great information I had gathered seemed to be fine because I completely understood her during the interview. When I sat down to start the transcript? My heart sank and I felt anxious. The interview was falling apart and I could barely understand her. Worse still, it wasn’t like I could just call her back up and go, “Hey, this messed up. Take two?”
Let me explain to you what went wrong. Tara Summers is British, and she had a fairly thick accent compared to Gildart Jackson (who was also British). I’ve never had a true problem with understanding people who have different accents, especially if they speak clearly. The problem I ran in to was this: when she started to speak about things she was more comfortable with, she spoke quickly and sometimes the words would jumble together.
Then, add that on to the fact she was calling from her car on a blue tooth speakerphone, and occasionally what she said would cut out. And finally, to top it off, my recording made this terrible crackling noise every time she spoke, which made it even harder to understand.
While I initially thought the transcript was going to be a giant wreck, in the end it turned out fine. So here’s what I learned from this experience that I hope can help other people who experience similar problems.
Firstly, always make sure to stay calm. If you just conducted a great interview, and then you find out that your recorder didn’t record or the quality is just bad, the one thing you shouldn’t do is begin to panic. If you act out of fear and panic, you could end up making the situation worse. So take a deep breath, and email whoever you think will be best suited to fix your problem. For me, I emailed my managing editor and said, “What do I do?” She emailed me back asking for the file, and after running it through audio software, she cleaned it up enough to let me get just a little more from the jumbled mess.
Secondly, make sure to always have a backup. If this means saving three files, having two recording devices, or even holding the interviewee over their time to ensure everything has recorded right, do it. Next time I record an interview, I’ll make sure to keep enough space between the phone and the microphone. I know this was my primary issue, and it was something I couldn’t have known or learned without this interview.
I want to make sure I stress though, none of this was Tara Summers’ fault. She did everything she could, and it sounded great to me from where I was sitting. Unfortunately, when it got to the microphone, that’s when the problems happened. Speaking with her was a great experience, and she had such a great story to tell, it just seems that technology didn’t want to cooperate with either of us two weeks ago.
In my next couple of posts, I am going to talk about some great news I received from my managing editor late Monday night and how my interview went with “Whodunnit?” contestant Melina. Stay tuned!