My Author Interview on NPR’s Only A Game

onlyagameI had a great opportunity to talk to Bill Littlefield, host of NPR’s Only A Game. The show aired today (Saturday).


The appearance included a web page that has a Q&A and excerpt from my book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked The World.

Here’s the introduction by Only A Game:

The 2014 Ryder Cup is under way at Gleneagles in Scotland. The biennial competition pits golfers from the U.S. against their European counterparts. The Ryder Cup is one of golf’s signature events and has provided fans with various unlikely shots and improbable comebacks.

Neil Sagebiel would argue that no edition of the competition has been more dramatic than the 1969 Ryder Cup, the first to end in a tie. His new book is titled DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish that Shocked the World.

Read more at Only A Game:
Interview highlights
DRAW IN THE DUNES excerpt (from Chapter 9)


Garrison Keillor on Finding Lake Wobegon

Keillor ReaderI’m a longtime Garrison Keillor fan. Keillor, 71, said he was going to retire in Spring 2013, but judging from my radio on Saturday evenings he’s still at it, it being his Prairie Home Companion show heard on NPR.

In a 2011 interview, Keiller told AARP Bulletin, “When I was younger, I was all in favor of [retirement], and now that I’m at that age, I’m not sure. I sure don’t want to make a fool of myself and be singing romantic duets with 25-year-old women when I’m 75. But on the other hand, it’s so much fun. And in radio, the lighting is right.”

Keillor has released a new book, The Keillor Reader. The Bulletin ran an excerpt, in which Keillor explained the genesis of his fictional town of Lake Wobegon.

“I had a big beard and long hair when Minnesota Public Radio hired me,” Keillor writes, “but I was willing to get up at 4 a.m. and work the early morning shift and that’s where I discovered that irony and a dark world-view are not useful on the radio early in the morning.

“Listeners have enough darkness of their own. They didn’t need mine.”

Instead, Keillor turned toward something that would transport him through the years and build an audience more than happy to come along for the ride.

“I created a cheery on-air persona, the Old Scout, who rallied listeners to rise and shine and face the day with a smile. It was a good persona and in time I came to believe it myself. On that early morning shift, I invented a town where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children are all above average. Businesses in that town advertised on my show–Jack’s Auto Repair, Bob’s Bank, Bunsen Motors, Bertha’s Kitty Boutique, the Chatterbox Café, the Sidetrack Tap, Skoglund’s Five & Dime, the Mercantile–and that town, Lake Wobegon, became my story.”

I’m not disappointed that retirement is still elusive for Garrison.

Good Radio Is Good Writing

If you want a lesson in good writing, just listen to well-produced radio programs such as those on NPR. I listen to NPR as a news source but also for background music that doesn’t clash with my writing efforts as I work in my home office.

In thinking about what makes radio stories such a good illustration of solid writing that can apply to B2B copywriting, PR writing, or journalism, I came up with the following attributes.

Get to the point. Radio stories are usually short in duration—even on NPR—so they must immediately establish the story’s focus.

Clarity. I just read an email from a B2B marketer on the subject of clarity. Clarity reigns. It’s the basis of all successful communication. Good radio excels because it’s clear.

Simple words. This is especially true in radio. Listen closely and you’ll notice simple language. No fancy adjectives or crazy verbs. Radio words are easy to comprehend quickly.

Quotes. A well-selected and well-placed quote adds color to a radio story or other form of communication. Bland quotes, however, add no value and can actually detract from the core message.

Here’s a story NPR did last year on the Bank of Floyd, the hometown bank in my little town. It’s an interview format:

Amid Financial Turmoil, Small Banks Thrive