Peter FitzSimons, Walkley conference

His key to interviewing on radio is: “Somebody has to be dancing”, ideally the interviewee.

Peter FitzSimons, Alice Pung, Fenella Souter

If they get dull, PF pulls out the six-shooters and fires at their feet. (says something to stir them up).

“If they’re still dull, I’ll dance.”


He has a team of researchers and pays them $50 an hour.

“I assemble about 50,000 pieces of research. It’s like a 1000-piece jigsaw. I pick up and piece and I know it goes somewhere over there.”

He does several interviews with his subjects. The first one from 9am to 5pm where he tapes the person’s life story.

Then he gets it transcribed and highlights the good bits and asks questions (often about 150 questions crop up).

Another five-hour session answering the questions, and transcribing and more questions pop up.

Interview other friends, and more questions come up.

Another three-hour session and another 40 questions come up.

“Then pull the guts out of the stuff. How do I choose? What will sell.”

When writing for the SMH, he says he has lots of ‘different oyster beds”. “After 10 articles on one topic, I’m exhausted. I write about travel, rugby, politics … by the time I’ve exhausted one area, ideas have grown in another and I’m ready to write about that topic again.”

“I love writing. I’m up at 4am. I love long plane trips – they’re great for writing.”

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