Marc Fennell On Who Inspires Him, Controversial Interviews And His HWA Workshops

We interviewed the interviewer.

Later this month, Marc Fennell (The Feed, triple j, Radio National) will host two workshops at Hybrid World Adelaide: one on podcasting, and the other on interviewing. We caught up with him to chat about his unconventional journey into the media, the interviewers that inspire him, and what people can expect when he comes to Hybrid World Adelaide.

On his Hybrid World Adelaide workshops:

“With the podcasting one especially, I want people to come with their half-baked ideas. I’d love for people to come in with an idea, and see if we as a group can move it to a stage where they can make it. So we’ll be listening to lots of examples of different kinds of podcasts – whether it’s conversation podcasts, or out-and-about interviews, or narrative podcasts, even drama… and pick apart why they work, why they don’t, why people respond to them and how you get people’s attention.

The interviewing one is going to be a lot more about examples, and trying to tap into the psychology of how you get the best out of a person. There’s a lot of really granular details about how to structure an interview and how to get things out of people, whether they’re a very famous person, or a controversial person, or just an everyday Australian who has a great story to tell… I want it to be something where the person that walks into the workshop comes out at the end with a whole bunch of really usable bits of information, and they can go off and make the next masterpiece out of Adelaide.”

Tickets to Marc’s workshops available here.

On starting out as a broadcaster:

“The funny thing is, I don’t have any qualifications. The story of how I got into the media is a strange one: I decided I was going to be a graphic designer by day, and a filmmaker by night. I don’t know why it had a day/night separation… then, I stumbled across a community radio station who taught me broadcasting, and after that I did three months of uni and was approached by SBS to do a rebooted version of The Movie Show.

I signed my contract for that when I was 18. They didn’t know how young I was at the time; later when they found out, I think they were alarmed by hiring someone so young. And I just never went back to uni.”

On his interviewing philosophy:

“I’m interested in anybody that has a story… some of the best-performing interviews that I’ve done in the last five years were not famous people. They were ordinary, everyday Australians who’d had something insane happen to them.

I don’t have a problem being combative if I feel the moment requires it – if they’re saying something that needs to be challenged – but it’s not necessarily what I’m looking for. I want to know what makes people tick. Everything you’re doing is about trying to find out, what was the thought process there? When that happened to you, what was going through your head? What motivated you to make those choices? That’s the stuff I’m interested in.”

On what interviewer inspires him:

“The really direct example is a Canadian broadcaster by the name of George Stroumboulopoulos. He had an interview show that ran for many years on CBC, and it is the best. Hands-down, it is the best profile-interviewing show that has ever existed.

He had this wonderful manner about him that I found super inspiring, and he was very casual, chill, had a live audience but absolutely knew how to make it feel like there were just two people talking in a room. It’s an absolute masterclass in how to get the best out of people.”

Get tickets to Marc’s workshops.