Radio Appearance

I’ve been asked to appear on the BBC London Saturday Breakfast show tomorrow, to talk about Unicycle Hockey, and giving a demo. Anyone in/near London will be able to hear it at about 6:45am. They’re sending a taxi to pick me up at 6am :astonished:

Any tips for appearing on radio and not making a fool of yourself?


Thanx for the heads-up John.

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

You can’t ask the presenter to send you the list of questions (and you’d be surprised at the amount of people who try…) but you can prepare yourself for the basics. I’ll get back to this in a mo.

Some technical bits.
Wear the headphones and make sure they’re adjusted to a comfortable level so you can clearly hear the host and clearly hear your own voice.

Find out how long the insert is going to be. If you’re in for a 5 minute chat, that’s an entirely different ballgame to preparing for a 30 minute interview.

Keep eye-contact with the presenter so you can tell when he wants you to wrap up an answer. If you get a chance to listen to the show ahead of time, or even just the bit before you go on, you’ll get an idea of the ‘pace’ of the presenter. If you can get into sync, it’ll make for a better interview.

Make clear and concise notes so you can check details. If you want to mention the german silent movie Variete when you’re asked about the history of Unihoki, ok ok just for today…unicycle hockey, make sure you make a note of it else you might forget the name of the movie at the most inopportune moment and sound like an idiot.
Also make a note of the presenter’s name and write that on your notes. For bands going in for interviews I normally recommend wearing name badges. It sounds frightfully naff but it can and does happen that a presenter forgets a name and nothing makes you sound like a nobody quite as much as a radio presenter forgetting your name in the middle of an interview. Since you’ll be on your own (?) it probably isn’t that much of an issue.
But it can’t hurt.

Accept that a microphone is not a sound conveying device, it’s a gateway to another strange little world where the most arrogant of idiots become, and sound like, whimpering idiots and the most soft-spoken people come over as very personable and approachable.
You will feel slightly nervous, that’s natural. Just chill and have a chat.
You’re only ever talking to one person at a time. Please [personal bugbear warning] do not use phrases like ‘you people’, ‘all the people out there’ or ‘listeners’.
If you want me to explain why, shout.
But relax. It’s not an exam, it’s an opportunity to chat about something you know as much about as most and something you really enjoy doing.
Make sure you have a smile on your face while you’re talking. Practise forcing yourself to smile. You sound much friendlier when you do. This is important in radio. Take a pocket mirror so you can make sure you’re smiling all the time. (I’m serious.)

Onto some of the question you might be asked.
You’re likely to get a general attitude (at first) along the lines of ‘Why play hockey on a unicycle?’, ‘Are you crazy?’ or ‘Are you out of your mind?!?’
This won’t be meant in an insulting way, just take a step back and realise that to non-unicyclists, playing hockey on a uni is an extremely weird thing to do.
Handle it with grace, smiles and ‘because we can’ or ‘because it’s a lot of fun’.
Then work in some of the technical stuff. The fact that there are international rules will help people realise that alltho it’s decidedly odd, it is a legitimate sport.
Once you’ve crossed that little hurdle, the rest will be a cakewalk.
Expect ‘bread-and-butter’ questions like

How did it start?
Where did it start?
When did it start?
Who started it?
(Yeah, it’s pretty much the 5Ws)
Where do you play?

Play with all these questions in your head and start figuring out some answers so you have some idea of what you’ll want to say.

Most importantly, relax and have fun.

I’m looking forward to some of the other radio people on the fora to chime in here as well.

Have a few useful contacts ready (like web addresses and phone numbers)

As Gild said, ask for a list of questions and topics. When we did a live thingy on BBC1 (with the great Toby Anstis) we ran though the whole interview first than did it again live. I expect the chap will know nothing about unicycling so you can probably steer it quite a bit.

At the risk of sounding argumentative, pick one contact number and one email addy OR website.
People don’t listen to the radio with a notepad and pen at hand. If you repeat one number or website two or three times there’s a better chance of people remembering it than when you mention two or three different numbers.

Thanks Gild, Nick, good advice.

I’ve been trawling through the unicycle hockey page and there’s plenty of background stuff on there that I’m about to print off.

I could quite easily talk for hours about unicycling (I’m sure many of us could :wink: ) but it might not make for good radio! Hopefully the questions will be sensible and I’ll be able to steer the conversation away from how “crazy” we are and towards how much fun it is and how much easier it is to learn than people might expect.

Expect a post mortem tomorrow sometime…


The live webstream for BBC London is available here:

There is also a webcam :smiley:

Now to decide whether to set the alarm that early :astonished:

I would just treat it like when you meet someone on the street who is particularly interested in unicycling.

Heads up for those on the forum at this time. Tune in to the BBC now to hopefully catch Paul on the radio. About 10 minutes to go till the show.

Unfortunately the webcam update was ~5min, although they told any online listeners to look the best pic was Paul picking up the uni (I think!).


I’m back home now. It was fun! I’ve never listened to the BBC London Breakfast show so the first time I heard it was in their foyer while I was waiting to go through to the studio. It’s a topical talkshow with a presenter and two co-presenters, i was a little nervous about them poking fun (in a negative way) at unicycling, but they were really nice. They’d done their research and had quite a lot of pages from the 'net printed out, I spotted some photos from the International Unicycle Hockey Page, and they mentioned that the first reference to hockey was 1925 (thanks Dave!), which surprised me a little!

The interview/piece itself was very short and they didn’t really run through what was going to happen, they just took me into the studio and we started talking, I was hoping there’d be a record before I went on air and they’d do a quick brief about what we were going to do, but no such luck. It was surprisingly easy though, much easier than I expected!

They wanted me to ride the uni in the studio so that people could look on the webcam but I guess from Keith’s post that it didn’t show. I managed to get one of the co-presenters to get on the uni (leaning on me and another guy for support) which I think worked well with the banter between the three of them. Then they asked me to demonstrate some stretches/warm up exercises for the listeners at home, this was probably the worst bit, but I don’t think it mattered too much. I managed to get the UUU web address in because it’s the easiest UK web address to remember, apart from Roger’s (sorry Roger!).

I don’t suppose we’ll get many new recruits as a result of this, but it was good fun and pretty easy, apart from getting up at 5:30am.

Did anyone catch it? How did it sound?


I heard it. Sounded good. It fit in with the rest of their show. They seem to like demonstrating things on the air. They’re busy with an imaginary driving tour right now and are still busy trying to get the female presenter to do the splits on the air.

Nice one, I thought you did very well Paul and yes the warm up bit was not the best idea they had.

I’ve only just listened to it as it was too early for me to get up (I set my PC to record the live web steam :wink: )

That was a much more social way of listening, I didn’t have time to work out how to do it last night. Although it was not a problem as the kids decided to get up very early today :frowning:

The first mention was at 0635 when they said it looks like someone from the circus has just arrived, this was the only circus comment.

Paul - you were correct getting the presenter on the Uni worked surpisingly well on the radio, the descriptions came over clearly, shame the webcam did not update at the key time. I got the impression the warm up bit is something that happens every Saturday, although for a one-off this was the weakest bit.

That means you won. Congrats!

Nice to hear that they were prepared and didn’t just treat it as a freak-insert.

Some more good news. I can’t wait to hear this interview.

You might be surprised. I once phoned into a local station’s ‘swop shop’ offering to swop anyone with an unused uni for a set of juggling balls (i didn’t really want the unis, I just wanted people to know there was a uni-club in town so they could get riding again).
A Lady heard this, didn’t catch the contact detail, but managed to trace my thru this forum and phoned me about a week later. The forum knows her as Jayne ZA.
You might also never hear from people who (after hearing the interview) decided to give that uni in the closet just one more go.
You got the word out to a whole bunch of people (what’s their listenership?).

Well done.

Can’t you post the audio to a gallery?

Yes I can, have a look here .

I’ve also uploaded a radio interview Alan Chambers did.

(BTW both are MP3 files)

You are totally the man.
I’m listening to it right now. Sounds like a fun time.
Good to hear the presenter understood the concept of rolling the wheel back towards you during the mount.
Good insert, they did seem to get rather side-tracked with the exercise and breathing thing.

Thanks, it’s no problem.

I found another radio interview lurking on my hard drive so I’ve uploaded it to here. It’s by the Cumbria Muni & Trials club.

Sorry Paul for using this thread to mention other radio interviews but I thought it would give the thread a deserved bump :smiley:

No problem :slight_smile: It’s great to hear them. I’d heard about Alan’s, but never heard it.

Isn’t it about time there was someone from the UK unicycling on TV? Someone who’s a bit mad and rode a very long way in the cold and dark perhaps…