10 Ways To Get The Phones Buzzing


(By Randy Lane) One of the biggest complaints we get from morning shows is that the phones are not ringing. We hear that the culprits are hands-free driving laws, poor cell phone quality, and younger people preferring to text, Snapchat, or instant message.

Boo, hoo, hoo! We believe listeners will call if you set up your show to be interactive, AND you give them a compelling reason to call.

  1. First, establish a phone-friendly environment. Put listeners on spontaneously to establish that the show is interactive. Hearing other callers on the air ignites more audience participation.
  2. Include your phone number on the imaging during the show: Run short imaging pieces with lines like, “Join the conversation at (phone number).” Include text and social media contact info on additional produced imaging.
  3. Set up calls with a lightning rod caller (one who takes an extreme viewpoint) to jumpstart topic response.
  4. Pre-record callers to air right out of the setup. That first caller will create momentum.
  5. Set up topics by polarizing listeners. For example: Is it cruel or practical to use a harness and a leash on a toddler?
  6. Prove or disprove something: “According to a poll, 46% of men who have cheated did so with a friend of their wife. There is no way that many men are stupid enough to cheat with their wife’s friend!”
  7. Go on a quest to find – the worst boss story, the most embarrassing dad story, the most outrageous breakup story, etc.
  8. “I bet there is nobody listening right now who…” This is a specific quest. For example, “I bet there’s nobody listening right now who moved in with their girlfriend at age 18 and are still together.”
  9. Over/Under is another quest technique that dares listeners to call. E.g.:  Host 1: “I bet there are five women listening right now who are not 100% sure who the father of their baby is.” Host 2: “Are you kidding? No way. I bet there is not one person, at least who will confess!” Each player places a bet on how many people will call with that story, adding a subplot to the topic — which host goes over or under?
  10. Interactive games are fun for listeners to play along with, and they’re an antidote to all the negative news.
  11. Evergreen topics: The following topics are designed to ring your phones and generate listener stories. Sharing your story first will prompt listeners to call.
  • “After this weekend, I’ll never do [blank] again”
  • “Made my week…” stories about why it was a great week”
  •  “I knew it was over when…”
  • “Why today doesn’t/does suck…”
  • “Confession [day of the week] “

You never want to force calls just to have interaction or because you don’t have content prepared. Callers contribute most to your show when they bring stories, a fresh perspective, or when they bring out a host’s character.

Randy Lane has worked as a DJ, program director, and general manager. He launched the Randy Lane Company in 1996 with the mission of developing morning shows and coaching talent. He has collected numerous industry awards, including Billboard’s “Consultant of the Year” for Adult Contemporary and Top 40.


  1. “You never want to force calls just to have interaction”
    So glad you added this.
    Also good to remember that execution counts a LOT- a good call can become a bad break with sloppy execution, and a mediocre call can be a terrific jumping off point if executed well.


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