The Talent Pool #19 - Prep: Step By Step
May 17, 2011
Once again, if you haven't been following this column, click HERE (link to last week's column) to catch up on the topic's details. These are the basic facts...
Abby Dorn and her husband, Dan, want children so badly she takes fertility drugs to help her conceive.
While giving birth to triplets, Abby's heart stops, and while the three babies are all healthy, Abby is left with severe brain damage, blind, unable to speak or walk. She requires constant care, and must be fed with a stomach tube.
On the tiplets first birthday, Dan divorces her, and Abby's parents move her from California back to their family home in South Carolina to care for her. Now Dan doesn't even want the triplets to ever see her again.
This is pretty powerful content. You could just throw it out there, take a few calls and move on, which is what the Morning Show I was coaching was going to do before we met.
Or, you could dig a little deeper and turn it into content so compelling your listeners will be talking about this particular show to everyone they know.
The first step is understanding your emotional reaction to this story. What does it make you feel, and what do you want your listeners to feel when they hear it?
The second step is to see if you can talk to one of the principals in this story: Dan, Abby's parents, Dan's attorney, or Abby's parents' attorney.
Obviously, these calls will have to happen off the air, and be edited, though you may want to save the longer version for your web site.
Let's assume you can't get any of the principals in this story to speak to you about the case, or they'll speak to you but not give you permission to use their voices on the air. Is there a local attorney willing to talk to you about this case on the air? S/he can remain anonymous, but it might help frame the emotional response you want if Dan, or an attorney, can argue his side. Points might be raised that are valid and logical but that won't remove any of the visceral reaction most of your listeners will feel.
As a last resort, many universities and most major hospitals now have an ethicist on staff, someone trained in philosophy and ethics, who can provide a less emotional perspective.
The whole idea is to have some other person, an antagonist, you can spotlight, so that you can be fully engaged emotionally.
And here's a tip: the deeper the real emotion of any story, the less you have to remonstrate. Above all, if any part of your reaction feels forced, or acted - if you're not authentic and honest - you'll be caught, and a topic this serious will backfire if any part of it isn't what you really feel.
Obviously, this kind of prep will take some time, so here's the second tip: don't waste great content like this with casual treatment when waiting two or three days will turn into something unforgettable for everyone who hears it.
I'm out of space here, so next week we'll put it on the air, from start to finish...in The Talent Pool