I tuned into Kyle and Jackie O this morning, I was interested to have a listen to them after reading about their landslide (historical?) ratings win yesterday.
It made me think about what might have brought the listeners across – was it the usual patter of celebrity gossip and the revelations of odious habits that had made them desert 2Day FM or was it the promise of a different feel on their new, supposedly more mellow, home Kiis.
I happened to hear their segment “what’s normal” where hapless listeners ring in and explain something that they think is slightly odd and ask for a verdict about whether it is normal or not.
Several conversations ensued (varying in their level of disgustingness) and Kyle and Jackie were quick to pounce on those “not normal” and denigrate their behaviours, the listeners (and each other).
“Phew” – the listener thinks – “I agree, that is not normal, BUT at the same time I am curious and interested to know more about this ‘weird’ person”.
Intuitively our hosts are quick to probe for (or provide) more lurid details about the abnormal offence – in one case about a woman who sat on her boyfriend’s knee while he was on the toilet – an image that is as clingy as she sounds.
Through these questions (often ones that we want to ask but don’t have the guts to) the audience is able to satisfy their own curiosity about ‘abnormal’ behaviour and at the same time compare it to their own and revel in the satisfaction that their own unspoken habits are not nearly as bad as these.
This is the skill of a great interviewer – to ask the question that is on the tip of the listener’s tongue. To follow the flow of the conversation and ask the question that naturally arises in the mind of the curious.
Say what you will about Kyle – he does listen to his callers; he understands the humanity of their stories and asks the questions that satisfy natural curiosity. In essence he is in sync with his audience and the way they think.