Hot Mic, Hot Damn!

“To avoid potentially embarrassing situations, assume that the camera is rolling and the mic is “hot” at all times.”

Not long ago I wrote a primer to help historians prepare for television interviews. If only Mike Coupe had read it, perhaps things would have been different.

Coupe is the chief executive of Sainsbury’s, a British grocery chain that recently struck a deal to buy Walmart’s British arm. He was caught on camera singing “We’re in the Money.” It’s a familiar tune and a dreadful ear worm (you’re stuck with it all day now, sorry!) Singing “We’re in the Money” when thousands of people are worried about how the Sainsbury - ASDA Group merger may impact their jobs is tone deaf, definitely figuratively, although literally his singing doesn’t sound so bad.

Perhaps Mr. Coupe is a great guy who was simply trying to ease some nervous tension. I get that! But his choice of show tune made him appear arrogant and insensitive. This misstep is an excellent case study in television interviewing. ALWAYS, ALWAYS assume the camera is rolling and the mic is on.

Whether you’re a historian new to television interviews, or a seasoned TV veteran, check out this primer for some quick-and-dirty interview tips. And if there’s anything I can do to help you, let me know.