My Best Interview

It wasn’t Nancy Regan. It wasn’t the Dalai Lama. It wasn’t Francis Ford Coppola. And it wasn’t Brad Pitt.

It seems like it was a lifetime ago, when I was in news, media and broadcasting. At one point I was working in TV, radio and theater. Looking back I am not sure when I slept. But you really don’t need much sleep when you are in your early 20’s.

I was working in news on 9/11. Terrible doesn’t begin to describe that day. I got out of hard news after that, I couldn’t take the heartbreak.

For a while I reported the regular headlines, reported the Dow, and current political happenings. It was thrilling to be around that much information all os the time. It was also overwhelming. What we see on the news, or read online is a minute fraction of what is actually out there. And that was before social media (yes, I was old school journalism.) But working in the news was also exhausting. So I switched to mostly entertainment,. where I could have fun and not feel so depleted at the end of the day (or night, depending on what shift I was broadcasting)

I often interviewed many celebrities and some politicians. And I am often asked about my favorite interview. Nancy Regan is in the top 5. Francis Ford Coppola was cool. Brad Pitt was HOT. and The Dalai Lama was my second. But my favorite was Walter Cronkite. He had retired but was giving a few interviews to promote his books. I pulled every string I could and called in every favor possible, to get an interview. And by lots of work., prayers and promises, I got him on our little station. He was a call in, not in person, that that was fine.

It was the morning show, and I had the list of questions his publicist has sent. The mic was hot, it was time. I opened my mouth and …nothing…I couldn’t speak. It is the first and only time I have ever been star struck. What do I say to the man who reported the moon landing? Watergate? Three Mile Island? The Iran hostage crisis? The Civil Right s movement and the assassination of Dr. King? Vietnam?

What could I possibly say to the man who reported the assassination of President John F. Kennedy?

He was a legend, a real journalist, not these fake opinionated hosts that call themselves reporters. He was my career hero. After seeing the look of sheer panic on my face, my morning show partner, and boss at the time, spoke up and welcomed him to the show. I think I was only silent for about 2 seconds, but it felt like an eternity.

I snapped out of it and continued the interview. And he was delightful. And he had the most charming laugh. He was generous with his information and very professional, just like I knew he would be. i had to be careful not to gush, which might happen when you interview your idol. It was a sad for me, and for the world, when he died.

We only had 15 minutes booked with him – that was all I could get, but I was happy to get it. It was such a long shot, and no one thought I could get him. No one thought it would happen. But it did.

That was in 1995, which seems impossible. I am showing my age, talking about an interview I did 26 years ago. But it always stayed with me, as well as some advice he gave me before we ended the call.

Life is short. Go after the long shot. take the chance on trying. It’s worth it, trust me. It is amazing when those long shots come to fruition. And if they don’t, at least you tried.