Getting Listener Calls in 2022

 In Blog

I recently had a laugh-filled reunion lunch with Jonathon Rush, Gary David, and Gary “Thrills” Mills of iHeart Radio in Columbia, South Carolina.

We reminisced about fun times at CHR WNOK in the 1980s. The request lines back then never stopped ringing. Listeners would call 24/7.

Fast-forward to 2022 and people seem to hate talking on the phone. I know I do! Friends call and I complain, “Why are you calling me… this better be an emergency!”

Phone-averse listeners are a problem for radio. For our medium to perform at its best, you need a variety of human voices, characters, stories, and viewpoints.

Here are tactics that shows are using to increase audience interaction. Consider experimenting with each one to see what works for your show.

  • They text in – you call backListeners prefer text-to-win over phone-in according to NuVoodoo Media Services. But you need their voice on the air. Kelly and Wood at Wild Country 99 St Cloud solicit contestant texts and call one back to record an on-air game. After the game, they record the listener discussing future show topics. (Make this mechanism clear in contest rules.)
  • Winner holdover: Similar to the above idea, Garner Andrews at Sonic 1029 Edmonton always has a list of upcoming show topics at hand and records contest players’ thoughts and stories before they hang up.
  • Social media: Post your best topics a few days before airtime. The interaction will help you gauge which topics are hot, and you can reach out to interesting individuals and have them on the phone.
  • Website sign-up: The John Boy and Billy Big Show has a “Be on The Big Show” page on their website. This gives you a database of willing callers that you can record and edit for PPM perfection.
  • Post topics online. Here in Portland, Oregon Public Broadcasting reporters use NextDoor to solicit interviews from specific neighborhoods. Morning shows use Craigslist, Reddit, and other message boards to search and solicit for people with stories on topics.
  • Best story wins a prize: Make listeners provide on-air content to win. Rick and Cutter at WAPL Appleton play “Dumb Ass Question” where the giveaway goes to the funniest response.
  • Voice Mail. Rock 100.5 Atlanta did a contest for Florida vacations called, Leave Your Message at The Beach. The funniest responses won.
  • Build a list of characters and experts. When you encounter a funny, well-spoken caller, keep their number and reach out to them again.  Keep a list of interesting marriage counselors, lawyers, etc. who will contribute to the show.
  • Record on-location. Everything you do on the phone you can do on the street. Use your iPhone to play and record your benchmark games and to get topic contributions while you are standing around at remotes and appearances.

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

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