How to get People to Call in to Radio Stations Again.


To get great phone calls on the radio these days, you have to work like a magician.

I realised this when I stumbled on a Youtube video today that shows you how to do a trick that makes it look like you’ve put a penny in a glass bottle without taking the top off the bottle. Like most magic tricks, it works because the audience underestimates the lengths the magician has gone to in advance to make the trick work. Rather than accept that the magician has spent time and effort making a fake plastic skin, palming it and hiding a second coin under the lid and then practicing the technique until it’s perfect, they would rather believe that the magician can actually push a coin through solid glass.

It’s never been more difficult to get great callers on the air at radio stations. People don’t call in anywhere near as much as they used to but great callers on the air with great stories sound way better than a presenter just reading out a list of things people have texted, emailed, tweeted or facebooked. Hearing a live caller on the radio these days is so unusual, that the calls jump out of the radio and sound even more special.

I never have to read texts, tweets or emails on the radio because I always have loads of great live callers on the air (actually, they’re not live, more on that in a bit).

Having plenty of ‘live’ callers on the radio is a trick and just like a magician, the secret is in the prep. I have a list of hundreds of “super-callers”. They are people who have called the show in the past to play a competition (people will still call to win money). They might not have actually made it onto the air but their number is logged in the system. I call them back after the show and ask them if they’d like to be a super-caller and find out what time it’s OK to call them in the morning. Roughly half of the people I call agree to go on the list. Then during every show, while the songs, ads or news is on, I call super-callers from the list. I tell them what we’re talking about that morning and ask if they’ve got a story or an opinion to share. I record all of those calls, edit them down and play the best ones on the air as if they’re live.

During a three hour breakfast show, I call and record at least thirty super-callers. Only the best ones (usually less than twelve) get edited down and make it onto the radio each day. The super-callers list has to be managed and I log the day and time each person went on the air so I don’t keep using the same people. If I repeatedly call someone and they don’t have great stories or opinions I drop them from the list.

People who listen to the show hear ‘live’ callers all morning and the callers always have something interesting to say. Rather than accept that I’ve spent the time and effort in advance, calling, making and managing a list, calling back and editing calls till they’re perfect before they go on the air, the average listener believes that loads of people every morning, call in and are always engaging.

The great thing is that after doing this for a while now, people who hear great callers on the radio have actually started calling in and sharing their stories and opinions on the air as well.

And that really is, magic!

Craic on!

Listen to the latest Mack Nuggets at;

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link. If you’d like to talk to me about it, call me on +44 1438 422106 between 6am and 9am (UK time) this week on BOB fm.


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