What are some good debating tactics to use when appearing on an AM radio show?
June 14, 2004 10:50 AM   Subscribe

What are some good debating tactics to use when appearing on an AM radio show?
posted by inksyndicate to Grab Bag (18 answers total)
Strawmen. Seriously, people eat that shit up. It's disingenuous, but it's a much more effective technique than hashing out the complex details of a subject. People have not attention span for minutia.

What's the show, who's the audience, what's the subject?
posted by jpoulos at 12:22 PM on June 14, 2004

not no
posted by jpoulos at 12:23 PM on June 14, 2004

appearing on an AM radio show
AM as in a morning show? Waking up early which means having a good night sleep before will be the key to your start. Then having your body and mind functioning at full speed when the show starts. Your body’s bio-rhythms may help you plan it out.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:23 PM on June 14, 2004

I haven't been on an AM radio show, but found these tactics to be useful in waging some particularly nasty battles back in my student government days:

1) Do as much as you can to make sure that your adversary and the listeners on his side see you as human.

2) Do not dehumanize your adversary

3) If your adversary throws an ad hominem at you or otherwise flings mud, turn the other cheek. It is an opportunity for you to take the high road.

4) Do not become overly emotional. The first person to lose their composure will most often lose.

5) The more your adversary underestimates you, the more likely it is that he will make a careless error.

Also, I have seen this happen in person on several occasions, and it is something to look out for. Person A says "You stated such-and-such about such-and-such. What a horrible thing to say." Person B says, "I don't recall saying that. Do you have a source on it?" Person A, of course, does not have a copy of the congressional record or the newspaper article in question on them, and Person B gets a free pass. So I would make sure you can quickly cite whatever it is you'll be quoting if anything, and maybe give your website and put links to the material on it.
posted by alphanerd at 12:31 PM on June 14, 2004

When all else fails -- "Your mama!"
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:40 PM on June 14, 2004

Answer the questions. Don't use your time to slag your opponent.

A prime example of what not to do was on CBC Radio during Cross Country Checkup, where I believe they were hosting an all-candidates debate in Barrie, Ontario.

The conservative was an arsehole who dodged questions, slagged everyone else, and repeatedly claimed we'd all get to see the improvement on June 28th, when he got elected.

He pissed me off so bad that I won't even consider voting conservative. No. Effing. Way.

I'm betting a lot of listeners felt the same, and that this one little turd just cost the party a lot of votes.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:06 PM on June 14, 2004

So... care to tell us when and where to listen?
posted by chaz at 1:24 PM on June 14, 2004

My former employer provided media training as well as lobbying and spin. A few thoughts for you:

Get your voice warmed up; make a phone call from your cell on your way there to make sure that you’re not going to sound croaky, horse or tongue tied.

Write down in advance a maximum of five talking points that you want to talk about.

Even if not explicitly asked bridge to your talking points with every answer even when not explicitly asked.

Keep it simple stupid

Don’t be afraid of a momentary pause; it’ll make you sound thoughtful and considered

Don’t snatch at the questions; think about what he’s asking you and don’t let yourself get led down the garden path – think about the implications of your answers

Be dominant; don’t let the jock dominate you – if he tries to interrupt you, politely insist that you be allowed to finish your point

Oh, good luck and enjoy yourself!
posted by dmt at 2:03 PM on June 14, 2004

Bring a paper and pencil, and takes notes when your opponent is talking. He will make points that you disagree with, and he will make mistakes. You don' t want to forget them.
posted by Hildago at 2:16 PM on June 14, 2004

Response by poster: It's Joe Farah's show! Sometime this week. He wants me to talk about why people should be concerned about his bud, Reverend Moon.
posted by inksyndicate at 2:39 PM on June 14, 2004

While almost all of his music is of the programmed persuasion, Squarepusher is a talented instrumentalist, and it shows on a lot of his more live- and jazz-oriented tracks, like E8 Boogie and Tetra-Sync, both of which use a lot of real and sampled live instrumentation, and the entire Music is Rotted One Note album. (links go to Warp's cool 30-seconds-at-a-time song 'browser') When playing live he uses his bass guitar either straight or through electronics for a "live" feel you don't get from just hitting "play" on your laptop. Be warned, though, the majority of his releases are insane sped-up-breakbeat fests with a decidedly "un-live" feel, so YMMV.
posted by zsazsa at 2:49 PM on June 14, 2004

wellllll sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit. Wrong thread. Sorry!
posted by zsazsa at 2:50 PM on June 14, 2004

I just thought you were talking about Rev Moon.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:11 PM on June 14, 2004

Hum before beginning to speak. "Mm-hmm" Try to get a good chest tone. Smile, make the face you'd make to a baby--beam until you feel it in your face--it will come across in your voice. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse your talking points. Don't patronize or get cuttingly sarcastic.

If you are dealing with a guy who tries to talk over you, keep talking quietly and evenly, humming and beaming all the while.

Always keep in mind the other guy will say try to say something outrageous to get your goat. Do not let your goat be gotten.

Get all Reaganesque on his ass--"Well... there you go again..."--with extreme equanimity. He is a bug on the windshield and you don't have a care in the world what he says about you--that is your attitude throughout.
posted by y2karl at 3:54 PM on June 14, 2004

be calm, reasonable, have facts and stats (short and sweet ones) and quotes (also short and sweet--don't be afraid to take them out of context either) at your disposal...definitely bring up the Emperor of the US (or whatever it was) thing...ask questions to put him on the defensive, and what everyone else said. Have fun! : >
posted by amberglow at 4:46 PM on June 14, 2004

Speak to the listeners, not the host. Have your point and stats ready, and when you get your chance, deliver them. Be calm, almost as if you're just reading a script out over the air.

And try to keep the whole thing from spiraling out of control. This might even entail [gasp] listening calmly when the host's head begins to spin around, projectile vomiting.
posted by scarabic at 9:54 PM on June 14, 2004

Oy, what an emotional issue! How much of the audience would likely be Christian-right? Those people would be very easy to win if they first listen to some facts about Moon. Getting them to listen is the difficult part, and trying would likely bring your oponent to adhominem attack you.
posted by Goofyy at 11:52 PM on June 14, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great tips. I love Metafilter.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:36 AM on June 15, 2004

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