Submitted Date 03/12/2024

With more and more teachers and educators creating podcasts, it's ever more important to keep in mind how to build a trustworthy brand.

Here Justine Willis Toms, veteran broadcaster with thousands of hours of conducting deep dialogues with esteemed movers and shakers, shares her secrets of what makes an engaging interview.

Toms is the co-founder of the radio program called New Dimensions Radio, which continues under her leadership at New Dimensions Foundation. Founded in 1973 with her late husband, Michael Toms, New Dimensions Radio has been serving as a constantly evolving, advanced multi-channel forum for open-minded discussions on numerous subjects.

For more than fifty years the intent of New Dimensions has been to inspire listeners to build resilience and hope while facing an uncertain future. These deep dialogues are meant to sow the seeds of encouragement, creative competence, and psychological flexibility, and to stay in the field of curiosity as an antidote to fear, so that together we can meet the challenges of the 21st-century. It seeks to awaken the unique talents and gifts in listeners and encourage them to contribute their creative genius to their community, family, and their own circle of influence. Toms affirms, "It is my on-going honor and privilege to contribute to the well-being of life on this precious planet through New Dimensions."

When hosting an interview, Toms approaches it with a triangle of perspectives:

1) The guest's point of view and wisdom

First and foremost is maintaining a robust sense of genuine curiosity. This requires deep listening and adhering to the discipline of undivided attention to the moment. It's important to allow yourself to experience the worldview of your guest as deeply and thoroughly as you can. This offers the opportunity to learn something new which will lead to spontaneous questions that arise from your own experience.

2) My experience and point of view

It is a both/and situation of being both open to the information and being present while simultaneously holding your own life experience and point of point of view.

3) The listener's point of view as I bring up questions I feel will arise during the interview. This is what makes the entire hosting process exciting, enlivening, and soul centered.

The third perspective is to always remember that you are standing in for the listener. Be aware of any terminology that may be unclear. Don't hesitate to invite the guest to speak more deeply so that any claims are clarified. Keep in mind how the listener is receiving this conversation and what questions might be occurring for them. This helps your guest to step away from their expertise and tap into "beginners mind". One of the highest compliments, in my estimation, is when a listener says, "You asked just the same question that I was thinking about." As I'm preparing, I'm feeling the questions listeners will have about my guest's point of view.

Storytelling is magical in any interview. We all perk-up when someone starts to tell a story. The Chilean author, Isabel Allende, and former guest on New Dimensions has said, "Stories are important. Just try one - say 'once upon a time' in an elevator, no one will get off the elevator. They remain there until you finish the story. The Power of storytelling is amazing and probably goes back to childhood… what did the Stone Age people do on those long winter nights? They sat around the fire and told stories." Encouraging your guest to embellish their wisdom with a personal story will make it memorable.

Toms notes that she has been transformed by the work. She affirms that each New Dimensions' guest has contributed to her growth and deepened her understanding of who she is and how she can better do her part to contribute in a positive way to the well-being of her community in the world. It's her mission to inspire listeners to discover and share their innate, individual gifts within their own center of influence.

"Justine Willis Toms brings a combination of depth and breadth to her interviews. This is her happy place as she helps people like me to truly get under the surface of our topics and into the living, breathing heart of them with information and tools that are genuinely helpful now, today, for all kinds of people. This knowledge is more important than ever in our troubled and complicated world, one that is still full of opportunities and hope. That's why, for me, New Dimensions is a historic institution, a beacon, a broadcaster, and a gathering place for 50 years for so many people with good heart and good hope for the better world we can make together."

Rick Hanson, Ph.D. President and Founder
of Global Compassion Coalition-GCC,

author of Making Great Relationships:
Simple Practices for Solving Conflicts,
Building Connection, and Fostering Love



Justine Willis Toms is co-founder, Creative Producer, and host of New Dimensions Radio, a public radio program series that has been broadcasting on public radio for more than 50 years. She's the author of Small Pleasures: Finding Grace in a Chaotic World and co-author with Michael Toms of True Work: Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do.


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