Getting listener calls on the air is still the best way to set a live air shift apart from a pre-recorded shift. Yet I consistently hear on air talent complain that they, “Just don’t get a lot of calls.” But, if listeners aren’t calling into your shift it’s because you’ve trained them not to call.
Here are a few tips on how to get more calls on air:
Fake it ‘til you make it. Just like a middle school dance where nobody wants to be the first person on the floor, listeners don’t tend to call into stations when they aren’t hearing calls on the air. So, there’s nothing wrong with getting things kickstarted by having a few of your office coworkers, friends or relatives call in to play the part until those phones start ringing.
Answer every call you can. Whenever possible pick up the phone and mine for that caller gold. There are certainly plenty of things to do during a shift nowadays, but interacting directly with listeners is the fastest way to develop a connection and relate to the broader audience. Plus, airing good quality calls does more for improving the quality of a personality’s on-air content than virtually any of those other tasks. Taking meter readings is important, but nobody hires an on-air personality because they’re good at taking meter readings. They hire them because they’re good at working the phones.
Lead, coach and direct callers. Only a small percentage of callers are going to give us something useful on air without being lead, coached or directed. Get them to comment on a station promotion or event to spice up your next live liner, find things in your show prep that they might have an opinion on, or ask them about an upcoming tune to make something that is already scheduled sound like a request.
Seed phone topics. Before cracking the mic and throwing out a phone topic, bank a few by asking every single phone caller the topic throughout the shift leading up to when you go on air with it. That way you’re not solely reliant on the people listening at that exact moment. It also takes some of the pressure off the turnaround time on editing the calls and getting them on air.
The ability to turn around and get local listener audio on the air quickly is a big advantage that terrestrial radio has over satellite and internet radio. So, lets stop looking at the phone as an outdated tech device, or a nuisance, and start getting more calls on the air.
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