Thinking About Thinking

Behind The Scenes Of An MSNBC TV Interview

Posted in Pop Culture by larrycheng on October 11, 2012

Periodically, some of the partners at Volition will do network television spots on shows related to business and technology.  Today, I paid a visit to 30 Rockefeller and the MSNBC studios to participate in J.J. Ramberg’s show, “Your Business” (also author of It’s Your Business).  The show won’t air until later, but this will give you a sense of what happens behind the scenes.

Prep Call

People often ask me whether or not I know what questions will be asked before going on the show.  In general, I know the topics that will be discussed, but the questions actually asked are far more fluid.  So, generally I prepare comments around the topics and then hope that the questions asked align with what I’m prepared to talk about.  If not, winging it is the only option.  But, the preparation still helps to think quickly.

Studio Arrival

It’s always a bit intimidating when you arrive at the studio, and you realize it’s the same studio used to tape all of the same shows you watch on TV.  In this case, the studio for MSNBC is at 30 Rockefeller.  The Today Show was taping when I arrived.  And, no, I did not run into Tina Fey.

Green Room

After making it through security, I’m ushered up to the green room.  Before I visited a green room, it sounded like a fancy place where the big TV personalities hang out.  In reality, it can be a rather humble room in some cases.  Typically the show that you will be participating in, if it’s a live show, is playing in the green room so you can get a feel for what’s going on.


I didn’t appreciate how important make-up is until I saw myself on TV without make-up.  Not a pretty sight.  It’s non-obvious when you’re watching a show, but everyone on camera has substantial make-up on.  It looks normal on TV – it looks abnormal in person.

In Studio!  

If it’s a live show, typically I get brought into the studio during a commercial break and have less than a minute before we go live.  It’s somewhat nerve rattling that right after the technician gets your microphone hooked up, you hear someone else counting down, “In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…”  Today, it was a taped show, so there was a little less pressure.

On Air

When we’re on air, we’ve been coached not to look at the camera.  We’re supposed to ignore the cameras and simply have a conversation with the host and any other folks on the panel.  You can see all of the final segments on Volition’s “On Air” section of our website.

That’s the whole process in a nutshell!

17 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Oliveme said, on October 14, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Just caught the show. You did a nice job. However, in prepping, include Googling the host’s name so that you can compliment her on her book and, more importantly get her name right in your blog about your experience on the show. The tip about managing the gap between receivables payables was a great short term solution. Thanks.

  2. larrycheng said, on October 14, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Yikes, thanks Oliveme. I can’t believe I got her name wrong in the post – that’s what happens when you rush a blog post out. And, good idea on promoting her book. I notice that the more experienced people on TV are a little more aggressive in studio on getting air time to say things like you mentioned. Thanks for tuning in.

  3. Learn More said, on November 19, 2013 at 11:45 am

    That was one hack of a show. But didn’t notice the fact Oliveme shared. You have got good instincts.

  4. William said, on January 11, 2014 at 5:03 am

    Where can I find more info I am interested in attending the show?

  5. Antis Virous said, on January 14, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    That is quite the process to get on the show. How do you go about getting tickets and preparing?

  6. Read more said, on January 27, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Nice to learn a bit about the “behind the scene” process that goes on..I guess the toughest part is not to ignore cameras and not to look at them.

  7. Ken H said, on January 28, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Great insight on how things are done behind the scenes at MSNBC. I never realized the process was so complex just to be interviewed. Thanks for this posting.

  8. bestreviewsforlife said, on February 21, 2014 at 4:56 am

    I really hate being on camera. I can’t even stand to photograph myself. You are one brave soul!

  9. mark said, on February 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    THanks for the background perspective.

  10. trailcamguy said, on March 6, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    I think it is fascinating to see what goes on behind the scenes of a production. It really makes you appreciate the final product.

  11. Click here said, on March 6, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    With all of the preparation like make-up just goes to prove that staged television programs don’t depict reality.

  12. Read more said, on March 6, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Glad to hear you got a first hand look at the behind the scenes activity of a television program.

  13. Bella Monitora said, on March 11, 2014 at 9:50 am

    It’s nice info. Thanks for sharing

  14. Best Foam said, on May 22, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Great to share, it is very nice to know. Thanks

  15. sorsochetray said, on July 19, 2014 at 3:12 am

    A great interview! I already watched it!

  16. Read more said, on August 11, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    That’s a great interview, thanks for sharing it, I’ll make sure to pass it on!

  17. mike said, on April 10, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for this nice post. I like the live show too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: