This post was first published on RadtioToday on 1 March 2018. See the original here.
An hour with an icon.
It was the first time I’d been genuinely nervous about recording the podcast in 2 years. I was anxious before my very first interview with Chrissie Swan, but Chrissie being Chrissie, made me feel comfortable with her warmth and generosity of spirit as soon as the mic’s went on. God love her.
Over the next 44 interviews I’ve felt more and more confident in what I’m doing and why I think the podcast might be useful to people, not only in radio, but anyone starting out in media.
Today was different though. I was about to interview, the best interviewer that Australian media has ever seen, and in my opinion one of the most important figures in Australian radio and TV from the last 30 years.
Andrew Denton is an icon, and for me personally, a hero.
It’s hard to put into words why Andrew’s had such an impact on me, but I’ll try.
For most of my life I’ve tried to surround myself with people who have their shit together. I internalise so much of what I do – the classic introvert – which means I rely on my wife and a very small group of friends for cues as to how I can live a better life. Sometimes I need to be shown the way.
In some ways, Andrew is a part of that small group too.
He has decoded the world for so many of us over so many years now, initially through humour and then, as Andrew put it, “as the world became infinitely more complex”, through his incredible intellect and the depth and warmth of his unique personality.
If I’m going to spend my free time doing something useful on one of my many screens-it’s people like Andrew I turn to.
So there I was, in a small production booth in Adelaide staring at an empty Skype screen, waiting for Andrew to arrive.
The interview was booked for 10am.
It’s 10:05am and I can feel my heart beating. In my head I keep repeating to myself….don’t mess this up Craig. I also knew that the more I repeated this completely unhelpful mantra, the more likely it would be that I would do exactly that!
Andrew opens the studio door in Sydney. His grey beard being the sure sign of someone who wasn’t required to be on a TV show that night.
As luck would have it, we have a mutual friend that Andrew wasn’t aware of, so I chewed up some nervous energy with 30 seconds of small talk which helped break the ice.
And then we started recording.
At the one minute mark of the podcast, something incredible happened. Andrew began to tell a story “that he has never shared publicly before”. Don’t worry, it’s not something the Daily Mail will use for click bait, but in the act of opening up and providing me with just a few confidence-laced bread crumbs, I knew that the next 59 minutes were going to be ok.
More than ok.
Did Andrew sense my nerves and deliberately frame the story that way to help relax me?
Great performers have a knack of reading the room and unselfishly providing, in cricket terms, a “long hop” to get their partner into the game.
Regardless of the intent, it was in that moment I knew that I could be the conduit for a brilliant man to share with my audience the techniques and habits that are at the foundation of his incredible career.
Sometimes you meet your idols and they turn out to be a disappointment. Other times you come away thinking that your instincts were right. They are worth following, they are worth investing time in.
I know you’ll find this podcast with Andrew every bit as inspiring as it was for me. It was an hour with an icon that I’ll never forget.