Meet the Journalists: Matt Hoffman, KPBS, NBC 7 San Diego

Below are summary points from the interview with Matt Hoffman, reporter at KPBS and weekend writer and editor at NBC 7.

What should we know about TV news?
  • Visuals are essential for story-telling on TV.
  • Audio is also essential for a TV story to capture all the senses of the viewer who may or may not be paying undivided attention to the TV screen.
  • Keep answers short and to the point. Write out bullet points about what you want to get across in your interview.
  • TV news pieces run typically around 1 - 2 minutes. Get right to the point of why this matters to the viewer – how it impacts them, otherwise they won’t care about what you have to say.
What should we know about radio interviews?
  • Use descriptive words and speech that paint a picture in someone's mind.
  • Be quick and succinct in your answers so they can be used for soundbites. A typical radio spot is only 45 seconds long, so typically only one 15-second soundbite is needed for any given story.
  • Longer pieces are sometimes possible, depending on the story (up to four minutes).
  • Radio has a captive audience, particularly in the morning and afternoon shows for KPBS. (5 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.)

What does a radio interview look like?

  • Radio interviews are best done in person if possible.
  • Second best is using the interviewee’s cell phone to record their answers, and then send back to the reporter – this is the best sound quality.
  • An interview over the phone is also possible for radio, and a landline is best for this.

Do you have any tips for pitching stories for radio?

  • If doing a local story get as specific as possible with the details. For a national story broaden the interview a bit for those who are not from the region.
  • Very specific stories that don’t appeal to a general audience should be pitched to more of a trade publication.
  • If you pitch better to the reporter they can pitch better to their editor who has the final say on what goes on the air.
  • Reporters receive hundreds of news pitches from other universities, staffing is limited in the newsrooms, in order to compete do the following:
    • Along with your pitch or press release also providing video, images, photos, links to data and information and even soundbites with the university expert – this makes the pitch more complete for the reporter.
  • Being available is key.
    • Reporters are on deadline – if you can meet their deadline you can get on their story
    • TV deadlines are 3 p.m.; radio deadlines are 5 p.m.
    • They have to cast a wide net to ensure they have interviews on time. Whatever school expert calls them back first gets on

The University of San Diego Media Relations team presents Meet the Journalists, a series of video interviews for USD professors and administrators to gain better insight into the media. Hear from journalists, reporters, editors and producers who cover higher education or rely on faculty experts to provide context to news stories. Watch all eight videos on the Media Relations website.

Begin quote "[In radio] we really need quick, succinct bites. The person listening to this wants to know how this impacts them."