Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Conversation I Never Thought I'd Have

On Thursday I had the absolute pleasure of being Richard Fidler's guest on Conversations.  It was such an honour to be interviewed by the man I have always called the "Andrew Denton" of radio.  In my humble opinion both Richard Fidler and Andrew Denton are the two best interviewers Australia has ever produced.

I often hear the Conversations music sting and it always makes me wonder what interesting person he is going to be speaking to.  I never in a million years thought I'd be sitting across from him, in the studio, waiting for the music to stop so he could talk to me.   Me?

The topic of the Conversation was "Living with Anxiety" and a side issue, which really isn't a side issue in the scheme of life, "Child Sexual Abuse".  It was never going to be a light hearted chat and I was always going to be nervous about it.  I do suffer from anxiety, so that is a given.

If you heard the interview, you would know I did need to prepare well in advance to minimise any chance of having an attack, either on the way or in the studio.  When I arrived I was nervous, but not out of control.  Pam O'Brien, Richard's producer, is the warmest, loveliest person you could ever meet.  She made me feel so comfortable and I felt like I'd known her for years.  In some ways perhaps I did.  Just a week before we had a long and intense discussion covering the events of my life.  She probably knows more about me now than most people do.  Richard also came out and sat with me on the couch (this would be the equivalent to the "green room" we often hear about).  We chatted and he put me at ease. This was so important and one of the reasons he is the best.  I don't think you can conduct an intimate interview with someone without meeting them beforehand.

When we went into the studio I must admit I got a new wave of nervousness.  It wasn't particularly small, but it was closed off with one exit.  Now I was sitting near the door, which for me is a prerequisite.  However, it's not like I can just jump up and run out mid interview is it?  We were live on air, not just in Brisbane but in other states as well.  That was the very one thing that worried me the most about the interview.  There was no escape.  Or was there?  When I told Richard my concerns, he told me I always had an out.  If I needed to go at any time I could just get up and leave.  He would ensure the show would go on and no one would know.  If it wasn't so inappropriate, I would have jumped across the desk and kissed him at that moment.  The instant relief I felt was indescribable.  For the past week, ever since I found out the interview was live, I'd been making myself ill about the inability to escape.

We then talked about the interview and Richard briefed me on the areas he was going to talk about and whether I was comfortable or not.  We made a couple of adjustments and we were ready to roll.   The Conversations music started and there was no turning back.

It went smoothly and Richard was amazing.  I never once felt uncomfortable and he interviewed me with style and compassion.  When I spoke he moved away from his microphone and looked at me and really listened.  He cared and he empathised.  This, my friends, is why Richard Fidler is so good at what he does.

My best friend told me she could tell he was listening intently and that he wasn't waiting to read out his next question.  He took the interview where it needed to go because he listened.  Good interviewing isn't something you can do because you have a list of questions and you've done a bit of research.  You have to care.  You have to want to know what the person has to say, and most importantly you have to listen.    Richard Fidler does all this in spades.

I never intended this post to be a testimonial to Richard Fidler, however, as often happens when I sit down to write, my original intentions change once I get going.

I have received so many touching emails from people who listened to my interview.  This has humbled me so much and is exactly the reason I agreed to talk about these issues.  Later in the week, after I've responded to every email, I will write some more about this.

If you want to hear my Conversation, you can listen here



  1. I listened today. I'm so PROUD of you Annie. For opening your heart and sharing an intensely personal story. Because it made a difference. Because others who have endured similar hurts will know they're not alone. I love you xxxxx

  2. I love Richard Fidler. And you are so gorgeous and brave xo

  3. Annie, You are the second person I have "known" (the other IRL) to be on his program. You and my friend both have extraordinary stories and have both come out the other side with such incredible courage and not a shred of bitterness. It was a pleasure to listen and get to know the extraordinary you that bit better. And I also love love love Richard (and Andrew).
    Love Michelle

  4. Going across to listen now. He is obviously a great interviewer.
    My psychologist told me I'd make a great psychologist because many of the marks of a good shrink and/or journo/interview are the same.
    You have to make people comfortable.
    Put them at ease.
    Bring them out of themselves.
    Ask questions which lead to interesting conversations or quotes.
    Listen, really listen.
    And care.
    And generally, you want to help.
    And Annie, I know you're a great interviewer, but I think you'd make a wonderful psychologist as well.

  5. This was an amazing interview Annie. I am so proud of you for telling your story so beautifully, and I love you very much. xx

  6. I thought it was an incredible interview, Annie and you are right to praise Richard. He was obviously very supportive of your honest, raw, heartfelt story. I didn't think it was possible on the radio to hear someone listening, but you really knew that he was hung on your every word. Perhaps it was the insightfulness of the questions he asked you; the intelligence of his contribution, maybe.

    Either way, you were a dynamic duo, that's for sure. x

  7. "My best friend told me she could tell he was listening intently and that he wasn't waiting to read out his next question"

  8. Annie, I heard your interview re played on the radio today. I was driving to the supermarket and sat in the carpark in the car to keep listening. You are truly inspirational and honest. Your description of your anxiety really resonated with me and then to hear the story of your childhood told so bravely and with such calm - your interview will remain in my head and my heart for a long time to come.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me x

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