Cavett or Koppel, You Can Interview Me

If You’ll Behave

By Jeff Salter

If I were interviewed for television because of some writing fame or accomplishment, I’d want to steer clear of most of the so-called “interviewers” I’ve observed in recent years. Too many of them prefer to set up a confrontational – or even antagonistic – ambush than to seek insights into their subject (me) or the writing goal I’ve accomplished.

Well, I don’t want a grandstanding, preening, loudmouth shouting me down, baiting me, and otherwise running roughshod over me and my achievement.

Give me an interviewer who actually cares (or seems to care) about my accomplishment and wants to learn more about how I achieved it… and who I am. I want someone who asks intelligent questions without providing his/her anticipated answer within the phrasing of their question.

While replying to the three Foxes who have posted so far this week, I’ve revealed some of my observations about the general and unfortunate decline of journalistic standards in TV interviews — the so-called “gotcha” journalism. No need to repeat them here — just go back to my replies on the posts for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… and to whatever Tonette has in store for us tomorrow.


Dick Cavett

I’ve wracked my brain to come up with someone and the closest I can get to my ideal interviewer would be either Dick Cavett or Ted Koppel. Both would make me feel as though we were having a conversation (rather than a trial) and both would treat me respectfully. With both Cavett and Koppel, I believe they would be more in the background, prompting my responses and then thoughtfully (and perceptively) following up to my answers.

Ted Koppel

Ted Koppel

That said, I believe Cavett typically revealed much more humor while Koppel demonstrated greater gravity. But both seemed earnest and made me believe they wanted to learn something new and interesting… and thereby share it with their viewers. And that’s the way to interview — NOT focusing the session on themselves and using me as a tennis ball to smash against a wall for their own entertainment [or to see how hard they could hit me before I turn into mush].

Before our interview, I would hope they would ask me, “What would YOU like to focus on?”
After I replied, I would ask them, “And what else do you think your viewers might like to know?”
Now THAT would be a great interview.


What about YOU? Who would YOU want to interview you on TV?

[ JLS # 280 ]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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15 Responses to Cavett or Koppel, You Can Interview Me

  1. I used to watch Dick Cavett’s show all the time. He had so many HUGE stars and often more high-brow guests than many of the other shows.
    I never watched Ted Koppel much.It seemed that the timing was just bad for me when he was on and I wasn’t watching much TV then.My mother, however, enjoyed him greatly.
    You’ll see my choices tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      eager to see who you came up with.
      I did not watch Cavett regularly, but whenever I saw him I really liked his whole approach to the interview.
      I’ve (fairly) recently seen a lengthy interview (from years ago) between Koppel and a guy with ALS. I thought it was extremely dignified and enlightening.


  2. jbrayweber says:

    I’m too young (not by much I assure you) to remember Cavett and Koppel. But from your post, I’d say they are excellent choices. I’m on board. I agree with your assessment of today’s interviewers. It’s all about the entertainment and tearing someone down or exposing the skeletons in closets or entertainment. So if its entertainment they want, then I’d love to be interviewed by Jay Leno, Ellen Degeneres or Jimmy Fallon. Yeesss. The shenanigans…

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      Well, Jenn, you missed some great stuff from Cavett.
      Yes, today, I’d be afraid to go on a TV show with most of the “talking heads”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Someone who wouldn’t ask inane questions, then ask , “So, do you still beat your husband?”

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      Ha. Yeah, Grocho was a great interviewer… but that was a totally diff. kind of interview. Not one designed to solicit information or enlightenment, but rather to envelope the subject among a larger entertainment


  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I remember Dick Cavett – vaguely. I think he was on while I was walking home from school. By the time I got home the show was almost over. Ted Koppel was on quite late at night, as I recall, so I only saw the clips they showed during commercials. But from those glimpses, I agree – Cavett was more light-hearted and Koppel was more serious. So you’d probably discuss your comedies with Cavett and your WWII books with Koppell.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Joselyn says:

    I vaguely remember Ted Koppel. He seemed to take his work seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      definitely NOT a party guy. Yet he was something who made me believe I could trust him and I never got the impression he was pushing himself into the forefront of the interview.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I have heard both those names before but do not ever recall watching them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Janet Butler says:

    How about Charlie Rose? Supposedly he’s one of the best and most sympathetic/sincere interviewers out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charlie Rose might be my choice.

    Liked by 1 person

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