The eternal life of radio

Time was when an author’s publicity tour was a national campaign. In the 1980s, I’d spend two days in Toronto, a day elsewhere in Southern Ontario, then head out to do a day in each of Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria.

In each city a local publicist hired by the publisher would ferry me around to six-or-eight media interviews she’d arranged, drop me back at the airport and on I’d go to the next city and repeat the process. It could be a bit of a blur. There would come a point during interviews when I’d ask myself, “I know I’ve told this anecdote already today, but have I told it in this interview?”

Some authors grumbled about the punishing pace. Not me. I stayed in good hotels, ate well and saw the country … just like a holiday. But as the years passed, and costs escalated, publishers cut back. In the 1990s Halifax and Victoria were dropped, then Edmonton and Ottawa. Now I don’t travel anywhere, I do all publicity interviews in Toronto or by phone in the comfort of my own home.

That doesn’t mean reduced work. In the last week, in addition to numerous print and television sessions, I’ve done more than two dozen radio interviews (called phoners) in seven provinces plus the Northwest Territories. Radio is a wonderful way to tell stories. People who have worked in television and then move to radio sometimes have trouble adjusting. TV is all about audience. There could be scores of people watching a program on the big screen in a bar. Radio is much more intimate, one-on-one, and you have to be more revealing about yourself to make a connection with each listener on an individual basis.

I find it all rather reassuring. In the face so much technological change, amid so many new methods of delivering information, radio – which has been around for almost a century – is still going strong.

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