Look ma, I’m on the radio!

At around 10am on Friday morning, I picked up my phone and found two missed calls, both from numbers I didn’t know.

Being the introverted eejit that I am, I tend to ignore missed calls from numbers that I don’t recognise unless I’m expecting them for some reason, so I didn’t think anything of putting my phone back down and getting on with what I was doing.

It rang again ten minutes later, and this time I picked up. On the phone was a friendly-sounding chap named Caomhan calling from Newstalk, a national Irish radio station, who told me that he had heard about Everyday Exercise and was wondering if I was interested in appearing on the popular Moncrieff show that afternoon?

After a moment of blind panic, picturing myself doing my awkward best and clamming up or in some other way majorly embarrassing myself on national radio, I took a deep breath and stutteringly replied that yes, I would love that. I’m a big believer in pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and I’d never have forgiven myself for not taking the chance.

What followed was a couple of pre-interviews. They had to be sure I wasn’t completely incapable of stringing words together, and after a ropey start in the first one, I warmed up and got going. I also had a good journalist friend ring me for another one, after spending an hour in-between pacing around my apartment sweating bullets.

Less than four hours after the initial call, I cycled over to the Newstalk offices in Dublin’s city centre. The security guard on the door was pretty skeptical about me but I think my obvious nervousness persuaded him that I may in fact be about to make a catastrophically bad appearance on the station, and that he might enjoy listening in to it.

A woman I got in the lift (I know, I know, not very Everyday Exercise but I wanted to appear as normal as possible after the guard’s scrutiny) with turned out to be a Newstalk employee and, as would become the running theme there, she was super-nice to me. When I reached the office I was offered a comfortable leather seat to sink into next to an attractive, vaguely-recognisable lady who was clearly an old hand at this. She looked as incredibly calm as I felt incredibly nervous, and she was warmly greeted by Pat Kenny and another Irish TV personality I recognised but couldn’t place.

Somehow, I was able to use that as an impetus to calm down a bit myself. I took a few meditative breaths, pretended to read my hastily-scribbled notes and told myself over and over again how this was a great opportunity, I knew my stuff and that, if I could stay relaxed, I could really enjoy it.

I had been told that I’d be on at about twenty past two, directly after an ad-break. I had the feeling all this time of a man in the top half of an hourglass, being pulled towards the neck by the swirling sand. I’ve felt the same before other events – big matches or any kind of public speaking. When I heard the ad-break begin – preceded by a real radio DJ teasing about my appearance – I got to my feet and the swirling sensation got more intense as I was walked to the studio.

I took my seat, carefully laid out my two small pages of notes side by side next to the mic (never to be looked at again), had a chat with the friendly radio presenter, Jonathan McCrea and adjusted my position in the chair what felt like a hundred times. The ad-break finished much faster than I was ready for and I held my breath, trying not to make a single sound as he answered texters, tweeters and emailers about the last few show segments.

Then he introduced me and the book, turned to me with a question, and the swirling feeling stopped. I dropped through the neck of the hourglass with a sickening jolt and… just started talking.

Unbelievably, I had a fantastic time. I had mini-versions of the same lurching, jumping-into-a-void feeling at every turn to speak, but it was an enjoyable conversation. I could feel the nascent mental muscles I had built through a level one improv course earlier in the year (another comfort-zone stretching experiment) flexing hard, especially when I got asked a question by someone listening to the show!

Five or six minutes later it was over. I was given a thumbs-up by the producers in the booth and shepherded out of the building with my ears ringing. I was buzzing like I’d just bungee-jumped off a cliff, my face a slightly pink colour for an hour afterwards and my hands shaking.

The response to the interview has been great and I even managed to listen to it myself without collapsing into a cringing, twitching puddle of embarrassment on the floor, so I couldn’t be any happier.

Massive thanks to Gumroad and their Small Product Lab initiative, Caomhan, Jonathan, Newstalk, all the people who listened in and supported me and to Naomi, my friend who told the crew in there about my book and got the ball rolling in the first place. You’ve given me a real bucket-list type experience that I will cherish for a long time!

You can listen to the full segment here: