Last week, I had the pleasure of co-hosting The Lisa Saunders Show—for the fourth time.
Years ago, the mere thought of that—shooting live in a studio, with the expectation of being witty and wise (or at least one of the two)—would have scared me into an absolute panic, albeit a painfully quiet one. But I’ve long since realized that the ability to speak publicly, and to lead unscripted conversations in front of audiences who hold expectations of entertainment and enlightenment, is pretty much a necessity of what I do. So I’ve made peace with the need to be “on,” and have even learned to enjoy it.
Part of that enjoyment comes from knowing that I’m prepared. (Let me tell you: there’s nothing worse than the uncertainty of whether or not you’ll be able to fill your allotted time without resorting to meaningless babble. Don’t ask me how I know that.) Over-prepared, even. It’s not unusual for me to have an excess of questions that go unasked, and unanswered, by the end of a live interview. After all, that’s preferable to the alternative.
Case in point: I had eighteen questions to lob at last week’s guest, author Mark Howell—the majority pertaining to his most recent book, Like a Rolling Stone, and others about his diverse experiences in the publishing industry. And I think I asked two of them in the course of the show. Maybe three. I don’t mention this to complain. Rather, I use it to illustrate another point: the importance of adaptability—and in knowing who the star really is. (Well, besides Lisa.)
Mark is a storyteller, and he’s been at it for a long time. Decades. In addition to writing books, he’s worked in publishing in London, New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto, and won numerous awards for his journalism. Couple that background with the intriguing premise of Like a Rolling Stone—an “almost true” novel chronicling the exploits of two college-aged Brits driving across America in a Plymouth Savoy while impersonating the Rolling Stones (but only singing Beatles songs)—and it’s no wonder there was little room for breath.
(I should also tell you that Mark has an entrancing accent. And that he occasionally lapses into song. And that he even poses willingly for selfies. Who would I be to interrupt him?)
Long story short? Thirty minutes can go by like that—especially when you’ve got a gifted orator as your guest and a curious, intelligent co-host. On those days, the job is easy: Sit back, relax, and learn. (And there’s always something to learn, if only how to properly affix your mic. One of these days I’ll get it right!)
Now … a few words about Lisa. She’s brave. (Did I mention that she’s had me on her show four times?) She’s also one of Connecticut’s entrepreneurial gems. An award-winning writer and television host, Lisa also works as a part-time history interpreter at Mystic Seaport, instructs on publishing and publicity at New London Adult & Continuing Education, and writes website content for clients. Perhaps more importantly, she is the parent representative of the Congenital Cytomegalovirus Foundation and, in 2015—along with the support of other parents and the medical community—succeeded in getting Connecticut to become one of the few states in America to enact a law aimed at fighting this disease.
Appearing on Lisa’s show, then, is quite the honor. (It’s also a legally sound way to invade homes in Groton, Mystic, Stonington, North Stonington, and Voluntown.) She always seems apologetic about the commute, but that’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to share her spotlight.
I’ve gone on long enough, though. Or, in TV lingo: And we’re clear!