As stories related to the Tour de France began to get hotter starting in late June and climaxing in late July I began to have more and more success in getting radio and television interviews. All the research I had done translated to interviews that people found informative. It became the norm for interviews to go two to three times as long as they had been scheduled. Initially most of the bookings came as the result of an add I placed in Radio and TV Interview Report. Later I hired a publicist and she got me some bigger national radio interviews. Eventually my radio interviews numbered in the hundreds with dozens of national ones.
The really big stuff, though, came as a result of hundreds of calls, faxes, e-mails, and meetings that I had with producers of national television shows. Time after time I was told "no." I was rejected by The Today Show, Letterman, Leno, Oprah, Good Morning America, MSNBC, ESPN, and on and on. The recurring theme was that I didn't have the credentials they wanted. My recently released book wasn't enough. They wanted someone who had ridden the Tour de France.
But finally a CNN talent booker showed interest. I nearly jumped out of my skin. We scheduled a segment while I was in NYC at the begining of my book tour. I went to the studios and was sitting in the green room wearing my first ever faceload of makeup, when the first tapes of Sadaam Hussein's pre-trial came in. Moments later I was informed that I'd been bumped. Talk about crimes against humanity!
I called the booker in Atlanta and explained to her again what a good job I would do for her program. Hours later I was rescheduled for the next morning. I had to make some quick adjustments to my book tour, but that was no problem. This time not only did I have makeup on, but I was positioned in one of their special guest rooms in front of a remote control camera when word of Marlon Brando's death came in. They began playing their prepared eulogies, and I knew immediately that they weren't going to break into them to interview me. Damn.
We hurried from NYC to Philly and made it there just in time for the signing that evening. All the way down the eastern seaboard and then into the mid-west I kept calling the booking agent, hoping for an opportunity. Finally, they booked a studio at a PBS station in Indianapolis and told me to go there and try again. This time I had to put on my own make-up. Good thing I'd learned how to do it right. (Important note: don't use blush or eye-shadow, that's not what they want.)
This time, in a much more informal and low-tech environment, the interview came off. I couldn't see the woman talking to me or any of the b-roll they played, but it still went smooth as silk, especially when she requested that I come on the show again as the race progressed. Thank you Daryn Kagan!
That was the begining of numerous TV interviews on three national networks plus several more on local stations. It wasn't the last time I'd be bumped, though. Ironically, I extended my stay in NYC because of a booking on Geraldo, but it was canceled hours prior to air time because Geraldo had flown to my home town of Salt Lake City for the Mark Hacking story. I wish that feel good stories like the Tour de France could get the sort of drop of the hat coverage that bizarre murders can, but that will never be the case.
Now, here's to hoping that the base I built last year will help in getting similar bookings in 2005!