Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On Reading with Robin



JAN: I met Robin Kall about five years ago at a book conference. I was researching A Confidential Source, and because I had a talk radio host as a major character, I needed to learn how talk radio stations worked. Robin helped me get inside WHJJ in Providence and introduced me to some of its radio stars. Within a year, she had her very own radio show – devoted to books. Reading With Robin airs on WHJJ (920a.m.) from 7 to 8 a.m. Saturday mornings, and can be heard via podcast on her website. ttp://http://www.readingwithrobin.com/.
I was Robin's very first guest, but since then she’s hosted everyone from Jodi Picoult to Alice Hoffman to David Baldacci.


JRW: Tell us about how you got into talk radio.


Robin: I was the least likely person to even listen to anything on the AM dial. But it was at a point in my life when I was working from home and desperately bored. When I first tuned into Imus in the morning show, it was on one of the local FM rock stations. I soon became “Robin from Providence.” Once addicted, I wanted more and more, which as addicts will tell you, is the way it works. Then I found the John DePetro show, which was local Rhode Island show on WHJJ, and became a frequent caller to John’s show.

JRW: How did you go from caller to host?

Robin: I began going into the studio – invited of course – and started writing for the show. Then I did some fill in work, as host, which was much harder than I thought. About a year later, I pitched an idea – about a show devoted to reading books. And they liked the idea.

JRW: Tell us about the Reading With Robin program. What were your goals for the program?

Robin: The goal is to bring wonderful authors to my audience – to share the books that should not be missed and to have a lot of fun chatting about the writing process – and anything else that comes into my head. One long term goal, which I just realized, was to finally have podcasts of the show added to my website. Now people can tune in whenever it’s convenient for them – and without any nasty commercial interruption.

JRW: Any goals not yet realized?

Robin: My major long term goal is to write my own novel. I prefer to think rather than do the actual writing, though. This interview has been more than I’ve written in a while.

JRW. Long before you had your own radio show, you had a love of books. What fostered that love?

Robin: My mother. She was such a lover of books and whenever she had free time, which wasn’t often, we could find her reading a novel. She would always have a book on her nightstand and I would note how often the titles would change. After she passed away, I took one of her book collections, which I keep in my library. I keep them in the same order she left them on our family bookshelves and love looking up at the spines.

JRW: What’s your best advice for authors trying to get publicity on a radio show?

Robin: Send an email to the producer of the show that includes a short bio and some info about the book and why it might work on a specific radio show you are interested in. Follow up once, but if they are not interested, being a pest/nudge is not going to be helpful. Sometimes it’s just timing (nothing personal).

JRW: Any special traits that make an author a better guest?

Robin: Even if the book isn’t particularly funny, I appreciate it when the author has a good sense of humor and isn’t taking it all too seriously. I like to have a good time on the show, and be able to go off topic – as I’m doing here.

JRW: What’s your favorite question of authors?

Robin: If it’s as hard as it seems to get a book published and should the rest of us even bother trying. I love hearing the stories about the road to publishing, the rejections, the doubts, and the drama.

JRW: What are the perks of having your own show about reading??

Robin: the biggest perk is getting to talk to these incredible authors. Henry Winkler was a guest last summer and if that wasn’t cool, I don’t know what is. Meeting Judy Blume, who was the author of my favorite all time children's book, was another real treat for me.
Another perk is that I get to use the microphone to help raise money for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk each year. It’s something I have been passionate about for many, many years.

JWR: What are the burdens of your show?? How many books do you read a week, and how many books are stacked up in your living room?

Robin: Burdens? There are no burdens. When there are burdens I will stop doing the show. For me, it’s a passion and I love preparing each week for it. I usually read 1-2 books a week. I have too many books to count in every room in the house. I buy books, they are sent to me, I get them at conferences, but I never borrow books. Ever. I don’t want to have to remember to give them back.

And now, the Jungle Red Writers Quiz:Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple?
ROBIN: HUH???

JRW: Sex or Violence?

ROBIN: NOT SO BIG ON VIOLENCE ALTHOUGH AM A BIG FAN OF ALL THINGS MAFIA AND FOR SOME REASON THAT VIOLENCE DOESN’T BOTHER ME….GO FIGURE!
SEX IN BOOKS AND MOVIES IS GOOD. I’VE READ MUCH BETTER SEX SCENES THAN ALMOST ANTYHING I’VE SEEN IN THE MOVIES. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A WELL WRITTEN SEX SCENE!

JRW: Chocolate or Pizza?
ROBIN: CAN’T I CHOOSE BOTH??

JRW: Daniel Craig or Pierce Brosnan?
ROBIN: NOT SURE WHO DANIEL CRAIG IS AND I DO KNOW PIERCE BROSNAN SO I’LL GO (ANYWHERE!) WITH HIM….EVEN AFTER WATCHING THE MOVIE VERSION OF MAMA MIA (MAMA MIA!!!!)

JRW: Katherine or Audrey Hepburn?
ROBIN: OH,NO…THIS IS TOUGHER THAN THE PIZZA/CHOCOLATE QUESTION. I DO LOVE THEM BOTH!! IF I REALLY HAD TO CHOOSE….I THINK I’LL PICK CHOCOLATE AND CHOOSE BOTH HEPBURNS! WE HAVE EXTENSIVE COLLECTIONS OF BOTH HEPBURNS AND THERE IS NOTHING LIKE WATCHING THEM WITH A TRAY OF TRUFFLES!!


JRW: First person or third?
ROBIN: GOOD QUESTION….ROBIN MUCH PREFERS READING BOOKS IN THE FIRST PERSON! (OR SO I’VE HEARD!!)
JRW: Prologue or no prologue?
ROBIN: CERTAINLY A TIME AND PLACE FOR PROLOGUE (AT THE BEGINNING?) BUT I PREFER TO DIVE RIGHT INTO THE STORY AND FIGURE OUT WHAT MIGHT HAVE COME FIRST FOR MYSELF!

JRW: Making dinner or making reservations?
ROBIN: A TRICK QUESTION!! WHILE MAKING RESERVATIONS WOULD BE THE OBVIOUS CHOICE FOR ME NOT SO AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME. WE HAVE BEEN UNDER CONSTRUCTION FOR THE PAST ALMOST 5 MONTHS WITH A KITCHEN ADDITION AND FIRST FLOOR REWORKING SO I HAVE NOT HAD A WORKING KITCHEN SINCE MAY!! MAY I SAY THE NOVELTY HAS WORN OFF AND I SOMETIMES DREAM ABOUT THE FIRST THINGS I’LL PREPARE (OR EVEN WARM UP!)ONCE THE NEW KITCHEN IS UP AND RUNNING!

JRW: Tell us four things about yourself: Three true things and one lie; we'll guess which:

RED IS MY BEST COLOR

I WAS ENGAGED MY SENIOR YEAR OF COLLEGE

I HAVE NEVER EATEN TUNA FISH

I WATCH A TON OF TELEVISION

11 comments:

Roberta Isleib said...

Hey Robin, welcome to Jungle Red Writers! We're so glad to have a book addict visit the blog! You've have the coolest job ever. When I grow up, I want to have a radio show too:).

Can you tell us about a guest from Hell (no need to name names...:)

Robin said...

THE ONLY SLIP UP THAT COMES TO MIND (AMAZING HOW WE CAN BLOCK THOSE OUT) WAS IN THE EARLY YEARS OF THE SHOW AND THE SLIP UP WAS MINE. IN THOSE DAYS IT WAS MORE DIFFICULT FOR ME TO SAY NO AND I BOOKED A GUEST AS A NICE THING TO DO FOR SOMEONE (SOME MAY CALL THAT A FAVOR) AND ASKED HIM TO JOIN US IN STUDIO AS I HAD LESS THAN NO INTEREST IN THE BOOK (SORT OF A SCIENCE FICTION,HISTORICAL MESS AND NO I CANNOT RECALL THE TITLE) IT WAS NOTHING I COULD EVEN STRETCH MYSELF TO READ SO THE PLAN WAS TO HAVE HIM DO THE INTERVIEWING AND I WOULD INTERJECT IF AT ALL POSSIBLE . WHAT A MESS!! THE AUTHOR WAS MOST LIKELY NERVOUS OR HAD SOME TYPE OF THING THAT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME AS A RADIO SHOW HOST TO DIAGNOSE AND EVEN IF I HAD BEEN ABLE TO IT WAS TOO LATE. WE WERE LIVE – ON AIR…AND IT WAS JUST PAINFUL. I QUICKLY TOOK MY FIRST BREAK HOPING SHE WOULD EXPLAIN THE NERVOUSNESS AND LACK OF VOICE BUT NOTHING,NADA…SO ON IT WENT UNTIL THANKFULLY THE HOUR HAD TO COME TO AN END BUT SHEER LUCK OF THE CLOCK AND IT WAS O-V-E-R!! THE WORST PART WAS THAT IT WAS THE MORNING OF ONE OF OUR READING ACROSS RHODE ISLAND BREAKFASTS SO LOTS OF PEOPLE CAME UP TO ME AND ASKED WHAT WAS UP WITH THAT AUTHOR. THE GOOD NEWS WAS THAT PEOPLE WERE TUNED INTO THE SHOW…THE BAD NEWS WAS OBVIOUS. I EXPLAINED THAT THE WOMAN WAS 120 YEARS OLD AND WAS DOING THE BEST SHE COULD! FICTION IS FICTION!!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Robin so nice to "see" you here! Thanks for joining us. And you and Jan are still quite the team. What a terrific and revealing interview. (Not that I'm surprised.) And yes, you do have a fantastic job--and you do it extremely well. It's much more difficult than anyone could ever imagine.

And hey, in my newest book, Charlie goes on the radio, too! Mind if I run it by you at same point?

Let's see--I think you've never eaten tuna fish. Because--who could think of that? And of course I hope you do watch TV...

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin said...

Hi Hank!
Thanks so much for inviting me! I had a great time doing this interview with Jan!
Please do get in touch about your next book. Would love to hear about Charlie and the radio!
I'll have to wait until the end to reveal what's true and what's not...right?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yes, don't tell yet!

(And thanks--you can be my radio guru. Oh, wait. YOu already are.)

G.M. Malliet said...

I'm also going with the tuna fish.

Amy MacKinnon said...

Next to my job, I think you have the best. How about we switch for a couple of days and I'll interview fascinating people, find out what inspires them, while you sit in my office and write that novel of yours.

This was a great interview. Thanks, JR!

Robin said...

Hi! Just checking in-fun to see all of the comments! Please let me know when you'd like "THE LIE!"

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Sunday! xox

Robin said...

It's been a hectic few days - just popping by to let you know that the big lie is......"I watch a ton of television!"
Have never ever ever had tuna fish!

Robin