Since my daughter and son first interviewed Tina Charles from the NY Liberty and Mets’ legend John Franco, other interviewing opportunities have come their way. Witnessing my children interview famous people has been one of the highlights of being a dad blogger. They enjoy the interview process and wanted to hone their interviewing skills.
Enter D.T. Slouffman.
Mr. Slouffman is a four time Emmy winning producer and has been working in the television industry for almost two decades. He has produced the London Olympics, NBA Finals, Unguarded with Rachel Nichols on CNN, and many other shows for Discover Channel, ABC Sports, ESPN, and TLC. He is currently producing SI Now. The main reason that I asked D.T. for his help in educating my kids on how to interview people is not because of his awards and credentials, but because he, like me is a dad. And a really good one at that.
D.T. invited my kids and me to the CNN studios in New York City where he was producing Unguarded with Rachel Nichols, an excellent news show that once saw Ms. Nichols pointedly question Floyd Mayweather Jr., on his history of abusing women. A show that D.T. had produced.
The goal of the interview between my kids and D.T. was to help my kids understand more about how to tell a story when interviewing someone. My kids interviewed D.T. about his job, what a producer does, his favorite interviews, who angered him, and who upset him. Surprisingly to my kids, D.T. doesn’t get upset when people are jerks during interviews. He tried to get them to push him to name the names of people who were jerks, but my kids missed that cue and the chance for a follow-up question. (He later said he wouldn’t have told them anyway.) But as we left, I told the kids it would probably be easy to figure out who it was if we went through the list of people D.T. has interviewed.
One of the things that my kids do well in interviews, a concept D.T. reinforced, was finding commonalities with the person they interview. In the interview with D.T., my kids talked about taking a taekwondo classes (his daughter takes taekwondo), what D.T. wanted to be when he was a kid, cartoons, ice cream, and candy. D.T. told my kids about the time he interviewed Paul Newman, who didn’t like to give interviews. But D.T. made sure Newman understood that they would only be talking about racing, which Newman was passionate about. Because of their common interest in racing, Newman gave D.T. the interview and they spent the whole day together. D.T. also told stories of interviewing his boyhood hero Pete Rose, and shared a dream of someday interviewing Bruce Springsteen.
The main purpose of having D.T. talk to my kids was to equip them to deal with mean interviewees, help them understand the importance of follow up questions, and get them thinking about ways to build connections with the person they are interviewing. D.T. was great with my kids. He answered all of their questions and even pointed out questions they should have asked.
After the interview, D.T. gave us all a tour of the studio, which included a teasing response from Ashley Banfield after D.T. insulted her studio. He was taking us to the set of Unguarded where he said the “real news” was broadcasted. Ms. Banfield, who was standing next to us, didn’t appreciate the comment, but replied in a good natured way.
Sometimes it seems that journalism is a dying art. There are lots of people spouting opinions, but fewer who are asking probing questions. Thanks to D.T., my kids got to see editors, reporters, directors, and producers on the job and were challenged to dig a little deeper when interviewing. And my kids left with not only more tools to interview people, but a deeper appreciation for how we get our news. D.T. may have just inspired a future newsman and a newswoman.
D.T is currently the show runner and executive producer of Sports Illustrated and Time Inc. Studios digital platform daily series SI Now.