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Bob Berkowitz – Communication Secrets of Ronald Reagan and Barbara Walters

Bob Berkowitz – Communication Secrets of Ronald Reagan and Barbara Walters

Full time-coded transcript of show below:
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speaking the show about effective speaking in public to the media at work
0:15and in life speaking with TJ Walker my guest today is one of the icons of
0:28American journalism Bob Berkowitz has been a major force in TV radio and print
0:34journalism sense the nineteen seventies he was the founding correspondent for
0:40CNN in their white house and presidential coverage in 1980 he has
0:46been a top-rated talk show host primetime on CNBC financial news network
0:53you’ve seen him on the Today Show Good Morning America you’ve seen him
0:56everywhere one of my questions to Bob and to all my guess is for some of your
1:02childhood and early adult heroes as a broadcaster and mine was none other than
1:08by Berkowitz about thanks for joining us tonight pleasure to Jay you know I I
1:12grew up at a time in New York City where talk radio was at high point in there
1:20were three local talk radio host that had a profound influence on me to the
1:26point where I decided when I was 12 13 years old that’s what I wanted to do for
1:32a living I wanted to be a radio talk show host and i was able to do that in
1:39my twenties but it so I’m listen to free guys Barry gray who I thought was the
1:44Dean of top radiology was just a cherry diet smart interesting curious in the
1:51best sense of the word interviewer a guy named Brad Crandall who again had a
1:58perspective on a broader American beyond just like understanding of New York City
2:05and very Farber who I got to work with it be friends with me later in life also
2:11is a very smart interesting broadcast you all great broadcasters all and he
2:16was a master storyteller best
2:18the best and i would toss another one also Long John Neville is another very
2:23very very good talk show host they were interesting people they act they had on
2:28terrific guess not just folks were there to plug a book or a movie or play or
2:35whatever they were just every night here smart people sitting around the
2:40microphones at their various studios around New York City talking about
2:45whatever was interesting that day and I i really i grew up fascinated by that
2:51whole concept of interesting provocative thought-provoking conversation I loved
2:57it so what was your big break lots of people liked talk radio I like talk
3:02radio and used to listen to the am stations in charlotte north carolina but
3:07I didn’t end up the CNN White House correspondent was your big break up well
3:13to be the CII actually did to be in top radio i’ll get there then I’ll say about
3:18CNN i was a student at the University of Denver and i was working at the college
3:25radio station there but I was mainly as as a disc jockey but as I said my
3:30I and my energy was to be a radio talk show host and I there was a talk radio
3:38station in denver those days kgm see which i think is changes colette is
3:42probably a million times even though still on the air and I in those days i
3:47had more more hits but more golf more cheek then I had brains and I just
3:54walked into the station i asked to speak to the owner and I i asked for a job and
4:00and he looked at me like I was a little crazy but he started throwing a lot of
4:04questions and questions about what was in the news that day and I guess I
4:09handled it pretty well and it was again it was that it was a time where we
4:15the they wanted to hear the voices of young people the generation gap was was
4:20a very big turn in those days and so it need to have a young person on the air
4:25was I think a smart move by them and so it was a big breakthrough for me and it
4:30was a great time to be on the air it was a Vietnam civil rights fascinating
4:37politics Watergate and after a while i was commuting back and forth on the
4:41weekend as i was working at kgo radio in San Francisco against about 21 22 years
4:47old something like that and in denver during the week you know days off to be
4:51were irrelevant as i was having so much fun
4:54honestly was just I couldn’t believe that they were paying me to do this
4:58it was just the gas so I i did that for a while and went to Washington and in
5:05Washington I start working for the associated press radio network which was
5:08after a hundred and fifty years being in the news business the AP decided this
5:12radio business was here to stay so they they started out the radio network and
5:17in 1982 winter 19 years covering the republican primary in New Hampshire
5:23between ronald reagan and george bush and I got a call from this guy he says
5:28he ever heard Ted Turner’s if customers turn wasn’t returned he says what he
5:32wants to start a twenty-four-hour-a-day all-news cable network would you be
5:38interested in working for us i said well I beaches didn’t talking to you about it
5:41i I’ve got to go what was your reaction it now it seems like just an obvious but
5:47it at the time a lot of people were highly Saul that you can have more than
5:5120 minutes and news can’t believe the skepticism that I heard from people i
5:57mean they thought it was going to be a joke they didn’t stick with last six
6:01months on the air and people laughed at Ted Turner they thought he was a con man
6:09a huckster showman and they didn’t take this thing seriously and yes he has
6:14parts of those thanks to years but he’s also very serious man in Ted fits my
6:20definition of a genius
6:21TJ because one of the definitions that average of genius is that somebody who
6:26sees the future
6:28and then makes it happen we all have great ideas
6:32everybody’s listening to this podcast you be everybody’s great idea making it
6:37happen and making a big difference with that big idea that’s that takes a very
6:42special person Ted Turner’s that it is brilliant
6:45I mean he’s the most interesting people I’ve ever met in my life
6:49one of the smartest spot away so I I really didn’t think a lot of bad honest
6:53attic focus on my I went from New Hampshire to Florida Illinois then came
6:59back to Washington set down had a talk with them and I wanted to get into
7:02television so this is a perfect opportunity for me so I did it because I
7:05unlike a lot of people in radio you are not one constantly told you had a face
7:10for radio
7:11unfortunately though we should know is not but so I i joined CNN too much
7:16before we went on the air and it was chaotic
7:19yeah we didn’t know what we were doing i think this is gonna be a mess and I
7:23remember my first time was to cover the Ohio primaries it was carter versus
7:28Kennedy and the Democratic side of Reagan vs bush on the Republican side
7:33and the first night that CNN one of their june first 1980s at with my my
7:39producer and my crew at a bar outside of clear because they had a TV and add CNN
7:44and their cable system not too many cable system carries CNN in those days
7:48and weren’t that many cable systems and we SAT there and we watched it for a
7:53couple of hours and we couldn’t believe how good it was and that was so I
7:59recovered Reagan a the subject with Reagan campaign and then when Reagan was
8:03elected to light outside i became the White House correspondent for CNN it was
8:08interesting to me is that when you know everywhere we go with the president
8:13Sam Donaldson lesley stahl john palmer Andrea Mitchell they were the big stars
8:19they would net people would go crazy over them but when we went into san
8:25diego i remember this especially san diego at that time had the highest
8:29penetration of cable and CNN was a big deal we didn’t know that I was suddenly
8:35the rockstar because they all come up the music we can’t stop watching CNN
8:41it’s like an addiction
8:42we just we start watching we just can’t turn it off now are we thought in the
8:47very early days of CNN that it was going to be something that you watched in
8:52between shows or during a commercial break or between innings you flip over
8:57and catch up on the news and it wasn’t people started watching it and they
9:02couldn’t stop and it still onto and it’s still on today and in making a lot of
9:09money and very different from the very rough early days of the network back in
9:14the early eighties tell me more about Ronald Reagan there’s so much mythology
9:19about him as a communicator he certainly lived up to the name of the Great
9:24Communicator many people just assume because he was an actor he could just do
9:29everything flawlessly off the top milk we were there he really could I mean I
9:34think off sometimes he was good all the top of his head and sometimes to get
9:38himself into trouble he was pretty tightly scripted as both a candidate and
9:45as president even when he didn’t have a teleprompter in front of me he had 3 by
9:515 or 4 x 6 cards in his hand and he’d waste at la I gotta ask what was that
9:57like this i’ve had i’ve heard people who some work for them some met with him and
10:01said it was kinda weird to be sitting in a meeting with him and he was glancing
10:06down at three-by-five notecards reading the whole time
10:11well you know he he was a professional actor so he could work around the script
10:16pretty well and make it sound very convincing but but he didn’t need that
10:21because we need to get off message when you get off so sometimes you get into
10:24trouble never dreaming the 1980 campaign he said off the cost that the biggest
10:29source of air pollution in America where trees because trees in the carbon
10:33dioxide and a lot of people laughed at that and then Jim Brady may rest in
10:40peace
10:41I jim was the campaign spokesperson and he came to the back of the plane back
10:48the campaign playing breaking it was upfront he came back and we were flying
10:52over some forest area somewhere in America and you look down he’s listening
10:57skill trees down there we all laughed and of course quoted in and the and and
11:05ronald reagan never said anything but but Nancy Reagan gave Jim quite a
11:10tongue-lashing for that so he didn’t do that again
11:15now i have been told that Reagan was such a serious student of public
11:20speaking that he would first of all work with his speech writers for months on a
11:24big speech like to see the union address and second of all spend a whole day
11:28doing video rehearsal for a major speech like the state of the union yeah he was
11:33see any event he was a great speaker
11:35he was a great speak he connected to his audience and he was incredibly likeable
11:41you know it he did rehearse a lot because the egg that came from his
11:46career as an actor he connected with his audience and his audience liked him a
11:53lot
11:53even those who disagreed with them they found Reagan a likeable guy and he was
11:58likable I you mentioned that he heard yes would you see on the the official
12:05why maybe the White House typically would put would put things on the
12:09calendar with the president’s doing you’re just hearing now I mean I
12:12secondhand came pretty friendly with two of his speech writers one of whom by the
12:17way I became the United States congressman so I I knew them pretty well
12:22and you know they would tell me they would also tell me which speeches he
12:25wrote I was a pretty good writer and and he he knew his own voice and and one of
12:32the things about being a speech writer or if your speaker hiring somebody to
12:36write a speech for you is it safe got to capture your voice and that is very very
12:42hard to do if you’re able to write your own speech I truly truly strongly advise
12:49you to do that
12:51because nobody knows your voice like you know your voice and and of course he had
12:56a lot of experience because in the the outside years 76 to 80 he did daily what
13:03three to five minute radio commentaries that he he wrote out by hand and he
13:08would go around the country and he was an after-dinner speaker probably at
13:14least once a week so he he got a lot of practice it at public speaking and
13:21became very very good at he was one of the best of errors to really he’s up
13:26there that to talk to afraid we can’t all have a career as a professional
13:30actor for decades before entering the arena but what are the things that
13:35Ronald Reagan did as a communicator that that anyone could do anyone in our
13:40audience for that matter
13:41well I there to people who knew how to use the pause exceedingly well and I
13:47think the pause is the most underrated tool that any public speaker can use the
13:54pause can emphasize a point we don’t see Reagan except maybe an old film clips
14:01these days but you see President Obama all the time obviously still president
14:05watch obama use the pause Reagan was very good at this too when obama wants
14:11to to make a big . he pauses now we were told you guys like you and me grew up in
14:19radio oh you cannot get air
14:21well Obama uses that Darren soda Dragan to their advantage that pause was almost
14:28a signal to the listeners the viewers the people in the audience about to say
14:33is very important and it pause and then it is his big line the other thing also
14:40that both Reagan and Obama do exceedingly well is that they use their
14:44voice as an instrument to make their points so again what listen to Obama
14:50when obama says and this ladies and gentlemen is exactly why America should
14:56be doing XYZ he’ll change the cadence
15:01change the tone will certainly go from lower range in his voice to a higher
15:06range of his voice to again make the point and Reagan was extremely good at
15:12it as well you’ll see some speakers up Hillary Clinton is not by her own
15:17admission a great speaker but she almost comes office as shouting so does Trump
15:22to a large degree as well
15:25Reagan almost sounded and this is a real compliment and conversation when he was
15:32the speaker yes you knew it was public speaking because I i would talk to him
15:36and he was it’s a little different but he was so natural eye and he was so
15:40comfortable with it that it sounded even if he was given the state of the union
15:44address conversational and most figures are not that that way or that good why
15:50is it that so many people who proclaim to love ronald reagan whether it is
15:56Donald Trump but some Democrats but we saw in both conventions in 2016
16:03speaker after speaker yelling whether it was Bernie Sanders certainly Rudy
16:09Giuliani who can’t be a great speaker
16:13it just seemed as though they were yelling at the top of their lungs well i
16:18do have no idea it’s a great . TJ and I i watched a special giuliani and I said
16:25to myself why are you doing this I guess you’re right you’re not a bad speaker
16:28you know you and I live in New York City and so we have we saw mayor Giuliani up
16:34close and thermal a lot because of he was in office were quite a long time so
16:40I i don’t know why i think they think it’s going to energize the audience that
16:44they’re yelling and screaming like energizer will Reagan did its yell and
16:49scream Obama does the on-screen Bill Clinton does the on-screen and and I
16:54just think it’s a big mistake I it sounds unnatural Cory Booker who I think
16:59could be a great speaker again has that tendency they’re not as much as Giuliani
17:05of yelling at me yelling at the audience
17:08yeah we said I was a little more favorable towards cory booker’s speech
17:13although I thought the beginning scene
17:15a little overly too much trying to be like Lincoln a little contrived but i do
17:22think you could be better i think he could be better
17:28well anyone can improve it any age I think that Hillary Clinton did improve
17:33in that she did for the most part solve her problem of yelling too much where I
17:39still fault her in her 2016 Democratic convention speech is that she spoke at
17:46the same speed and pause the same amount between each word and it didn’t sound
17:53conversation volume heard obama obama buries the cadence berries berries the
18:00tone again it engages the interest of the audience but also he can use that
18:06voice in the wake he uses it as an instrument to make his points more
18:11clearly we’re speaking to Bob Berkowitz famed broadcast journalist also one of
18:17the best-known media trainers in the land today for more information about
18:21him
18:22you can go to Bob Berkowitz . com you can also send a message on twitter at
18:28Bob Berkowitz you’re listening to speaking with TJ Walker brought to you
18:34by media training worldwide if you’re looking to improve your own speech your
18:39own media skills then go to media training worldwide . com or click on the
18:45link below in the show notes and you can get a free no-obligation online course
18:51for both media training and public speaking training back to reagan is
18:58there anything else you think he does that really isn’t that hard but most
19:03people just don’t do what I want to move on to some other well known as you don’t
19:08know what he would answer a question we have and he was pausing a little bit to
19:12give him a second or two to pick up his answer and it too many politicians want
19:18to just jump into the answer that giving themselves a little second or two a
19:22beater to to think what I’m gonna stay here and what is the answer and why is
19:27it important
19:28for the audience to know what Android was quite good at that he was it was
19:32excellent at that and he always had a bit of a twinkle in his eye and he was
19:37funny
19:37now you can be very very funny as well but but i think it’s a mistake when
19:43people in our business the media training speech presentation training
19:49business advise people to tell a joke in the speech and I i always say that you
19:55sure about this TJ I always told if you if you really know the joke is funny and
20:01you’re really funny and that you know that it’s also relevant to the topic
20:06you’re speaking at ok but but don’t do it if you have any hesitation about all
20:14any of the above
20:15because if you bomb in your joke it will affect the audience and will affect you
20:20for the rest of your time standing in front of those folks I agree and I i
20:26recommend people stay away from jokes when you can make fun of yourself and it
20:30seems natural and it’s a part of the story wit now what Reagan did I thought
20:37quite well as he really could retail a joke he saw reread and readers digest
20:41and do it in a way where he didn’t seem like he was trying too hard he still
20:47came across likable and it generates a chunky most people do that it doesn’t
20:53give me your laugh I was covering the debate it was the second debate ahead
21:00with walter mondale and in 84 and the first debate he did very badly i mean he
21:06was just it was scary how bad he was and people are starting to wonder if you
21:10know has had a stroke is getting senile isn’t is the dimension started to set in
21:15and as we know later life he did have Alzheimers and so he made a joke about
21:22it in a second opinion it was a sterically he said yes I can’t remember
21:27exactly what he said he said he says as
21:30as as Thomas Jefferson once said and I was there when he said it
21:34yeah making making fun of his age and he did just beautifully and then with
21:41Mondale saying i will not make your youth and inexperience accounting issues
21:46that the bondo brings about yeah it was great i mean he he could make fun of
21:50himself and you and he was just terrific at I and and but he was not it was not a
21:56mean-spirited guy so he wouldn’t he wouldn’t done that the things that
22:01Pastor political discourse these days I just figured yeah I know regular around
22:08he was just he would cringe he wouldn’t believe it
22:12moving on from the White House you became very successful talk show host my
22:17my first encounter with you is watching your nightly kind time show on financial
22:24news network then CNBC were you interviewed anyone and everyone tell me
22:29who you think some of the most interesting communicators were what they
22:33did that made them really stand out from the normal celebrity politician humdrums
22:39well when I went into business show on CNN and on fnn rather I thought lee
22:45iacocca was a brilliant communicator he was a great storyteller and he he was a
22:52natural salesman anybody could sell his ideas and he did it with a sense of
22:58passion that was contagious and you you would believe whatever Lee said you
23:04would believe it and he was amazing but I remember him telling me a story that
23:09stays with me to this day he said that a lot of his workers on the assembly line
23:17at Chrysler plants in and traffic Michigan places like that could not read
23:24they were illiterate and so I said what what do you do this is what can I do I
23:30said we would make our instruction books with pictures and I had one of the top
23:36executives from mcdonalds on said the same things that a lot of there a lot of
23:41the people
23:42behind the counter illiterate and so instead of having the name Big Mac on
23:47the cash register that a picture that was it seared into my memory of that
23:55here we are you know the wealthiest country in the world would like to think
24:00of ourselves as the greatest country in the world and we have a substantial
24:03number of our fellow citizens or in the workforce who are functionally
24:08illiterate and that was that was a real shocker to me but both of these
24:13executives i forgot the name of the gentleman from mcdonalds but Lee Iacocca
24:17i’ll never forget the way you looked at me he just tried the songs what you
24:21gotta do you gotta work around it or do you know he was not the first but sort
24:25of one of the first edge of the celebrity CEO who had the best selling
24:32books and he was very much a part of the rehabilitation celebration of the statue
24:38of liberty and really leveraged his position to be almost a pop icon yes
24:44that’s true but i think he also started a bad friend you’re actually right lee
24:49iacocca was the first step doing all the above and he was one of the first people
24:54not very first one of the first people to move up on that level to do his own
24:59commercials and I see that unfortunately all too often you’ll see the local
25:06television even a big market like New York City where the advertising agency
25:11is playing up to the ego of the guy who owns the Chevy dealership in Brooklyn or
25:16in columbus ohio whatever it said oh you should be on television you’re so
25:21interesting yourself and so he’s appealing to his vanity this portion
25:26hook goes on television and makes a fool of himself tried to sell his chevys or
25:31whatever races is pitching or it’s his daughter or his granddaughter or his
25:38girlfriend’s it’s just awful
25:41Lee Iacocca could do because he has such tremendous presence and he was naturally
25:45gifted as a communicator most executives smart as they may be successful as they
25:51maybe they’re not in his class
25:54and it’s a mistake to do that you know I’m a little conflicted Bob on the one
25:58hand i cringe to and I see some stiff executive who is reading a teleprompter
26:05in their head is stiff and their monotone and they got a fancy suit on
26:09but everything else is awful and there’s a part of me cringing for them but
26:14there’s another part of me with my media training at and I would make with your
26:18media training hat we think what this person had just spent a day being
26:23trained properly they could come across well too because very few CEOs get to
26:29where they are without being good communicators at some level that’s true
26:33i agree with you TJ except the commercial is different than a speech a
26:37commercial is different than a media interview a commercial takes a certain
26:43amount of I hate to say but acting and and and sometimes you put in a dramatic
26:50situation and it looks awkward
26:54it looks fake and it looks funny whereas if they’re making a speech you know
26:59somebody like yourself for me
27:00yeah we can make them much better there’s no question about it and we
27:03could make them better for that commercial that’s true but it’s a
27:07different medium is from my perspective least then then usually other kinds of
27:11presentations I mean sometimes they have them doing school fee things especially
27:15a local car dealership commercial just it’s just it’s just cringe worthy you
27:21mentioned acting and you’ve interviewed a lot of actors throughout your career
27:25some at some actors who are fantastic actor robert de niro Warren Beatty are
27:30famously horrible that being interviewed who are so many actors who you think
27:35actually did a great job when they were out promoting uh George Clooney’s great
27:40he’s a great he’s so natural and so comfortable in his own skin and funny
27:46and charming he’s just tremendous remember Jennifer Beals she was the
27:51shore Flashman exactly the seventies when I was a correspondent for the Today
27:56Show I was always gonna be on the set live
28:00I with Jane Pauley i typically is that I would do i had a story and Jane would
28:07dead to set up the story introduce me that I would do another set up and the
28:10video story would go on the air and Jane and I would do a little by play after
28:14your client whoever and I was doing with that day in this particular day Brian
28:19was on the other side of the students all I’ve of course stage was live as you
28:22all know our and brian is going to interview Jennifer Beals who was in a
28:27picture which I think lasted in the feeders for about 20 minutes
28:32she did a remake of a bride of frankenstein or something close to that
28:37with sting and it was just a purely one of the worst films in the history of
28:45Hollywood and and and clearly she did not want to be out there promoting it
28:50was going to open up that day so friday i remember that and and so brian is
28:55interviewing her and she’s giving these monosyllabic answers yes know where she
29:01got her shoulders
29:02I don’t know and this is supposed to be like like a six or seven minute segments
29:07pretty long the Today Show and and so about two minutes into that Brian is
29:12trying to when brian is a great interview
29:14I mean he’s just you know you’ll get a better bryant gumbel and finally he
29:19looks at his I guess we don’t want to talk today do we
29:22well I get to be the end of this interview Jane which was great for me
29:25because I got another five minutes of a facetime I television i was thrilled but
29:30I i was watching this like oh my god what is going on here it was live
29:35television was it was throwing that happens if Bryant Gumbel is in some ways
29:40the guess then the reverser than the mirror image opposite of Ronald Reagan
29:47everyone always talked about how likable ronald reagan was even political foes a
29:52lot of people who have tremendous respect for Bryant Gumbel don’t really
29:57find him likable
29:58well he would probably agree with you are right was very honest and most
30:05people aren’t ten percent as honest as he is he said I don’t like most people
30:10and it came across up but i think people and you use that terms of their
30:15respected his abilities any I think approved a
30:19that does it all rule and television which i think is the most part is true
30:23that you have to be like what the audience just like you I don’t be honest
30:26because things like Brian but they really knew he was excellent what he did
30:31he was a great interview or he prepared an enormous amount and nobody was better
30:39I in a live situation faster on his feet and quick thinking as Bryant Gumbel so
30:47any still around
30:48LMAO yeah yeah I always don’t recognize because he’s lost so much weight he
30:53always looks too thin to me but but even here nor there buddy but he was easiest
30:59really great and easy topic discussed but not a particularly likeable guy
31:02agree and these are things that i like most people I don’t know they like me
31:06but that’s okay I can be like hard time you know
31:10alright are hard to imagine of all the people you’ve interviewed that are there
31:16any interviews that stand out whether it was a that edited piece on remoter in
31:22the studio is just the best interview and the worst interview the worst I can
31:29give you real fast
31:30I was doing talk radio back in Denver was again 20 21 years old something like
31:37that and and Jane Fonda was my guests and I think she was in Denver for an
31:44anti-war demonstrations Vietnam more days and she walked into the radio
31:49studio shook hands very nice dish or a nice jacket jeans and took off her
31:53jacket and she was wearing like this messy blouse with nothing underneath it
31:59now i’m a young man with real high testosterone fifth and I’m sitting
32:04across a table from her she has her microphone tried my microphone and I’m
32:09she was a big she was a big sex symbol of a star recommend getting both counts
32:14and very nice to bible so I am doing the interview not looking in her eyes that
32:21the way you would normally have a conversation with somebody but looking
32:24at other parts of your body which were quite revealing and I I was
32:29concentrating to the best of my ability on
32:32the interview and I said well respond with you think of bubble and she just
32:37pauses her mouth is a gate and then she just breaks up laughing and I thought
32:42again i thought i’d ask the very straightforward question
32:47and finally she controls herself and this is again live radio and i said
32:51’what but did I say that was so funny she said you realize what you’re called
32:56message no you call me Miss fondle and and for me to be speechless was a little
33:05quality and that’s the point
33:07yeah quite as David but it but she was very nice about it years later i was at
33:12up
33:12party in Hollywood and a friend of Mines house was an actor in Hollywood and she
33:17was there with her then husband Tom Hayden and I was talking to Tom made and
33:21she came over and she said to me she says you look very familiar to me
33:26we met before and I knew we had metal IC I’d I’ve seen you and movies many times
33:32of such a big fan Bobby to change the subject
33:35hope you tell me about clewd or whatever you know any movies are in inches
33:39I know who you are and she looked at Tommy’s honey that’s the guy
33:43Jane fondle you won’t live that I was under a lot of interviews and I do that
33:51I I think I’m one question i remember i asked which I thought was a pretty good
33:59question was I was when I was a reporter and a American Airlines dc-10 that
34:05crashed outside of o’hare in chicago and i covered the physical the ca be the
34:13Civil Aeronautics bureau if they were in charge of airline safety and many people
34:19died was a horrible event and and they were giving a very dry recitation of the
34:26facts and you know they were not giving much information out and I turn to the
34:34guy who is giving the president’s time for questions it would you let your
34:38family flying a dc-10 now he said hell no haha ok because that’s really what
34:44was important
34:45yes you know you can talk about the mechanical issues in the manufacturing
34:49issues in a 0 which is important it’s important but what American people want
34:55to know is am I say fly on this plane and he said hell no not now it
34:59eventually they fix the problem dc-10 were great and I’ve flown in a million
35:03times and there what they were wonderful planes that fly anymore effect so that
35:08that I think what a good interviewer says to him or herself is what does the
35:17audience want to know and what’s the question that i would ask that the
35:20audience wouldn’t wouldn’t think they’d ask and what’s really what’s this really
35:24about what has a white house correspondent one of those i learned in
35:28observance and Donaldson it was a really great reporter with Sam was really good
35:33at getting to the heart of the issue what’s the story really about too many I
35:37thought reporters in Washington we’re doing what we call inside baseball the
35:42politics the who’s up who’s down kind of part of the story and and Donaldson was
35:48really good too
35:49what’s this really about but he would cut to the heart of the story cut to the
35:53chase of the story and and I tried to do that as an interviewer to we’re speaking
35:59to Bob Berkowitz longtime broadcast journalists and media trainer he has
36:06been basically at every Network you and I have similar careers that were both
36:10media trainers but the only difference is I failed miserably at every attempt
36:16ever at as a broadcast journalist and talk show host and you succeeded
36:22massively and work your way up the media food chain
36:25I want to get your sense of how strengths and weaknesses play into
36:31people’s careers because you talked to the average person in my media training
36:35classes your media training classes they have this sense that everyone in the
36:39media is just born abnormally articulate good-looking are everything is smooth
36:49but then you look at someone like Barbara Walters I know you worked with
36:52her and she has a lisp she has a bit of a speech impediment and she is until
37:00recently she was on the air almost every day she’s still occasionally on the air
37:04she’s been on the air for what’s going on 17 years has her secrets is a she
37:10whip-smart that’s number one number two she’s exceedingly confident in her
37:16abilities as an interviewer and as a broadcaster and as a journalist I number
37:22three
37:23she is unbelievably be prepared going into an interview you know Larry King
37:30was the opposite i’m not saying was right the other was wrong obviously
37:34Larry had a great career
37:36Larry would go out of his way say he would never read the book because he
37:39wanted to be in the position of the person at home watching this who
37:44obviously had a chance to read the book to and I thought that was a bit of a
37:47cop-out because I would read a book because I wanted to test the author it
37:54used to hurt ninety percent number non-fiction books you know
37:58does this make sense is what the authors saying correct or true i’ll give an
38:02example that and I go back to get back to Barbara Walters up but I i had these
38:09two people and I’m drawing a blank on their names but at the time when i’m not
38:13sure the financial news network
38:14they had a gigantic Lee popular book about trends in the future married
38:21couple and and they part that one of the predictions was that that that in 10
38:27years or 20 years time of the future more people would be going to the
38:31toddler’s Heidi and Alvin tona was Alvin Toffler was believed it was Alan mega
38:35mega trends John as godson Nesbitt and his wife forgot what hurt your nephew
38:40John is better for her name was and our topic was brilliant
38:43Thomas genius died very recently but the Nesbitt’s came on they were saying that
38:49in the future more people would be going to cultural events that sports events
38:54and it doesn’t make sense to me I said wait a minute we think that’s likely
38:58they were talking the near future I said giant stay
39:02it was sold out every Sunday with either the Jets the Giants and that that holds
39:0560 70 thousand people know but if you add up all the Broadway theaters
39:10together every single broadway theatre and opera by theater that doesn’t add up
39:14to that yankee stadium holds 50 60 thousand people that time Shea Stadium
39:18all going to hold about the same amount that at the end there’s no had sold most
39:23of their seats madison square gardens 20,000 for the knicks and rangers just
39:27here in New York alone I say just doesn’t makes it doesn’t compute and
39:31they were doing their sort of him and I and III they walked out and they were
39:35some cursing me out under their breath they didn’t know i was there behind them
39:40and so I think without reading the book they would get away with a lot of stuff
39:44it just is wrong or didn’t make sense and i think a good interviewer in part
39:48has to be almost like a consumer advocate you know should you buy this
39:52book does it does it will you learn something from the book is this book
39:56telling you the truth and barbara walters is really really tough i think
40:01she’s a fair interviewer but she was a tough interviewer to she would really
40:05put the person generally speaking through the paces now with actors she
40:10would be a little softer and she get on those Barbara Walters Academy Awards
40:14special she would you want to get some tears I think more than hard truths
40:18Adams via and the people she was talking to but yeah but she was really good
40:24really really good interview you know what I you knowyou the one question I
40:28you feel about this teacher that I hate when actors are asked that when when
40:33they’re asked about their political points of you who were going to vote for
40:37why they they believe in this
40:39who cares honestly who cares if you want to talk about that acting great that
40:45love to hear because they’re experts in acting
40:47he really knows their stuff when it comes to acting but I don’t care about
40:51their opinion anymore that I care about the person is going to affect I care
40:57more about the opinion a person’s going to clean up the studio long after we’re
41:00gone that night because that person has a much sharper sense of reality than
41:06actors got a gazillion dollars and doesn’t have to worry about making the
41:10mortgage of the rent payments every month getting food
41:13on the table and saving money for their kids education don’t filthy rich the
41:18powerful influential whereas the person you know the average working stiff baby
41:23have a strong sense of reality what it’s like to live in America and those people
41:28are more interested in therapy that I haven’t some actor or blanket i
41:32partially agree with you but I do think it depends
41:35just like there are some really rich CEO’s that command a lot of air time
41:40because if their stature they you know they ran an aluminium company well so
41:45now they want to weigh in on tax policy they don’t really know what’s best for
41:50Tax Policy any more than one Hollywood celebrity knows our foreign policy
41:55should be I i guess to me it just depends if i hear someone like Tom
41:58Cruise saying things that i personally think your idiotic I don’t let that
42:04dissuade me from going to one of this weekend if I think it’s a good move
42:08I’m not saying that because I mean I I think Meryl Streep is a great actress I
42:13just don’t care about our politics behind agree with her objects that I
42:16don’t care what your political opinions but if you’re great actors absolutely
42:21well I go through movies more than likely but what do you what do you think
42:25of someone like George Clooney who he he really did grow up in a news household
42:29as you know your father was a news anchor he has a tremendous interest in
42:33news and heat to me he’s not someone mouthing off everyday crashing
42:38politicians he uses his celebrity would put a spotlight on Human Rights
42:44atrocities and are four other places to me in a way that seems respectful and
42:52and legitimate ammonia maybe that’s just because maybe it’s just because I like
42:57this policy i like his politics but he walks the talk he he really has taken
43:02the time to go into debt for he doesn’t you know to a drop in as a celebrity
43:07with a camera crew there to record is is is is 10 minutes there he really spend
43:12time in these places you really get to know the people get to know the issues
43:16it’s not just sort of a need to say PR stunt but a PR stunt is what is most of
43:23the time
43:24not with him you really really gets it and I think he’s the exception to the
43:28rule but I look I guarantee mark my words as we get close to the to the
43:36presidential election this fall they’ll be asking some ballplayers who they’re
43:40gonna vote for having the whole cares when asked about how to hit a curveball
43:44great for how to throw a pass for a touchdown
43:46fantastic that’s what they’re there for that’s what I’m interested in
43:50but who there they think should be the next president could care less
43:54could you tell us her . have you been in the communication business for decades
44:00now what’s different now as far as basic skills needed to succeed
44:08well I think basically means anything different other basic skills TJ what’s
44:11different is there I always instead there’s no such thing as off-the-record
44:15what you think is off the record and what the report of things is off the
44:19record could be two different things
44:20today there really is no such thing as off-the-record witness of four years ago
44:27Mitt Romney thinking that he was at a cozy little private reception with with
44:34donors and he mouths off about the forty-seven percent or you’re just there
44:39that take money from the government and it was very embarrassing for and
44:43somebody record of it and and we see that in this campaign as well there’s no
44:47such thing as off-the-record so that’s the one thing technological tentative
44:51but also whatever you say for better for worse can get around the world in
44:55seconds
44:56sometimes it’s good and sometimes if you make a full pot not so good so that’s
45:01different but the basics of communications who is the audience what
45:05is the message you’re trying to get to them if they if they heard three two or
45:10three or four messages
45:11what would they be if they walked away with those messages why is that
45:14important i think what’s also really important TJ is that ninety percent of
45:21our conversation is with ourselves and we understand ourselves perfectly i
45:28speak Bob fluently but it would be a big mistake for me to think that because I
45:34understand me that TJ has to understand me
45:38or that any other person understands me and so I think it is incumbent upon the
45:43communicator to take the extra first step second step third step forth step
45:50to make sure that he or she is being as clear they possibly could be so what I
45:54was invited the way i just want to point out for our listeners Bob you have an
45:57excellent column on this very theme that people can find on linkedin if they
46:02search your name Bob Berkowitz where else can they find that column I i think
46:07that was on facebook as well and and my twitter account as well too but but i’m
46:14saying is though is that the you have to translate what you mean it’s it’s you
46:19just can’t make a statement saying I believe in Xyz will
46:22what do you mean by XY say you have to say here’s what i mean by that
46:26or here’s an example of what I’m talking about here here’s why I think this is
46:30important for this is what white changes things
46:34or here’s how i came to this conclusion and I think you also have to go another
46:39step even beyond that and ask and answer your own questions you always have to
46:42read the mind of the audience is that you know if I was sitting where you’re
46:45sitting
46:45I wonder about this or you know a lot of people ask me about that
46:51so you’re you’re you’re going so far too
46:56to the best of your abilities at least to make sure that you are as clear as
47:02you possibly can be and I think that is vitally important and and that that was
47:09as true today as it was 50 years ago but i think most of us don’t do that most of
47:14us just assumed that everybody understands us and that’s a bad
47:17assumption business fails on bad communication assumptions
47:21well I assumed you understood what I was talking about why would you do that for
47:25a quick follow-up on the off the record we do have a number of listeners who are
47:30in the public relations industry their firms agencies in house there is a
47:36school of thought that says never go off the record with a reporter I understand
47:41exactly what you mean that you can’t say something wildly inflammatory like forty
47:46seven percent of the country is a bunch of leeches
47:50and expect that to stay in but i do subscribe to the theory that there are
47:55limited situations where you do need to speak to a reporter off the record that
48:01I want to get your take on that we’re stopped I think you better know and
48:04trust that reporter and two if it big league which would really be an awful
48:11thing for you you can say on background let me give you the report which pays
48:17off the right into the forward let me explain you know the context of this you
48:21can do that but if it got out would it really be that badly that bad that
48:24embarrassing answers no it wouldn’t be but don’t say so I’ll give an example
48:28what I’m talking about a good friend of mine i was a White House official when I
48:36was covering the White House who ever since and he was talking to a reporter
48:40and he was a top political guy at the Reagan White House and and the political
48:46reporter who’s interviewing and he knew the reporter trusted and this guy was a
48:50great reporter you know I ain’t no BS kind of guy really wasn’t have to fool
48:55anybody or or pull tricks than anybody and so that the topic was there was a
49:00rumor that Maureen Reagan President Reagan’s oldest daughter was going to
49:05run for the Senate seat in California and head Rollins because it is talked
49:11about this publicly so I’m not saying anything behind his back and thought he
49:16honestly thought he was off the record and Leo the reporter thought it was on
49:23the record and they were both honorable guys both honest honorable guy just
49:28understanding and an dead cities she’s the dumbest sob in the world she doesn’t
49:35know what the hell she’s doing she doesn’t know the issued by more and he’s
49:38trashing her and Leos dutifully reporting and it gets into this his
49:42newspaper the next day which happened to be a California newspaper and ronald
49:47reagan not only being present state but he’s the father and he calls it into the
49:51office and give him what-for because there was a miscommunication about this
49:56i have a client who was one of the top lawyers in New York City’s a top
50:00litigator really he
50:02II he’s in some of the biggest cases in the city really in the country as well
50:06and Ed has a deal with a reporter from the New York Post a paper here in New
50:14York but you know this report 40s in the config reporter calls often said what’s
50:19the deal about xyc ages
50:21you know I just I want to go off the record he’s Charlie usual rules yes as
50:26usual rules
50:27well they have a decades-old relationship of trust where they trust
50:31each other but at the evening also is that forget talking to reporters don’t
50:36put anything in an email that you would be worried about or embarrassed if it
50:41got on the front page of the New York Times The Washington Post look at the
50:44Democratic National Committee when I believe the Russians act the DNC’s
50:48database and he’s terribly embarrassing emails released at the time that
50:57somebody wrote that email dated have any knowledge that was going to be public
51:02was a private email and it was it but you it was embarrassing when it came out
51:06into public privately fine publicly not so fine so don’t try anything in an
51:12email don’t say anything to anybody that you worry about big made public
51:20I don’t leave on an upward positive no I mean the whole interview has been
51:23positive for my perspective but I wouldn’t know what advice to you have if
51:27you had a 20 year old niece nephew family member come to you and say I want
51:33to be in the media
51:35I want to be a journalist however that’s defined what is your advice to someone
51:41like they used to be
51:42go to journalism school get a job at a local paper make the jump to the wire
51:47services those rules of the first of all try getting a job at a local newspaper
51:51for good luck
51:53what is your advice to someone who really wants to be a full-time
51:56communicator in the journalist funny you should ask that question two days from
52:03now I’m having lunch with a young cousin of mine who wants to know the answer to
52:09that very question
52:11and you’re right we have been traditionally those are the answers that
52:14you give go to your little small-town newspaper learn your craft work your way
52:20out radio TV whatever it is it’s hard to do that down there aren’t a lot of those
52:25opportunities at the world when I was young I was very fortunate i could do
52:28that i can make a fool of myself it in a small environment before been fooled
52:35myself too hard your environment so but you can’t do that anymore but there are
52:39blogging opportunities number one that we didn’t have in those days and it
52:43gives you a chance to hold your abilities as a writer as a thinker as a
52:48reporter and I think that’s great
52:52you’ve gotta love to write if you want to be a journalist you just can’t wait
52:55to get up in the morning and do it should number two is that you have to be
52:59a gigantic consumer of news you have to love going online or really a paper they
53:06still have those when you’re at the time you’re you become a reporter but going
53:10online and just being a voracious consumer of journalism
53:17it’s like something i just love to do it you can’t wait to do it and number three
53:22is and and also want to love to write about it too
53:25uh I’m not sure I i would suggest going to j school journalism school I think
53:32you should take some journalism courses to be sure but I think a good journalist
53:36either one of two things
53:37a has a great broad education a broad understanding of the world of the way
53:43things work or he is this year she are specialists in science or the economy a
53:50or the law and and they’re both Bible ways but to be a journalism major I’m
53:56not sure that’s to take some courses in journalism but get a good education a
54:02good broad general education or very focused education and then connect your
54:07knowledge of science to journalism for more information about Bob’s trainings
54:14workshops and seminars go to Bob Berkowitz dot-com that’s 3 w’s that
54:18b.o.b BRK owi TZ . Kabul include that in the show notes you can also reach out to
54:27him on twitter at Bob Berkowitz Bob thank you for being our guest my great
54:33pleasure DJ speaking with TJ Walker is the number one rated daily streaming TV
54:42and radio show devoted to all aspects of speaking and communication if you
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