(By Jeff McHugh) For some radio shows and podcasts, the listener’s real-life phone topic stories are the best parts of the show.
If you plan and execute phone topics well, you can maximize time-spent-listening from one segment to the next. Here are the techniques that we see making a difference in performance.
1. Have your first caller on immediately.
As an example, George, Mo, and Cowboy Dave at The Bull in Houston discussed “false advertising,” where some men accuse women of leading them on through misread and misinterpreted signals.
Instead of starting with a hypothetical discussion, the show spoke to a female business traveler who shared that having a nightcap at a hotel bar occasionally attracted men assuming that her presence in the bar meant she wanted sex.
The show had the caller on to introduce the topic to listeners, and the real-life story in her own words induced other listeners to call. Callers beget callers.
Successful shows often solicit callers in advance through social media, listener databases, regular caller lists, and even Craigslist ads.
2. Have follow-up callers banked in advance.
You cannot tease upcoming callers if you do not know what they are going to say. Teasing “more of your calls coming up,” is an ineffective tease.
Instead of airing all the calls as they come in, hold back a good one for the start of the next segment. That way, you might finish a segment on the “false advertising” topic by teasing a controversial opinion or dramatic story. Better yet, use a preview clip of the caller to tease the next segment.
3. Put callers on-hold on the air.
Imagine that you have a segment where you talk to a couple of callers on a topic. Your next caller goes on-air and says, “This happened to me once and I have the solution…” Right there is when you cut them off.
“Hold on…we have to hear this story! Can you stay with us and share what happened in three minutes?”
Most callers will be happy to hold, and now that audiences have heard a headline about her story, many will stick around to hear what she says.
4. The mid-segment caller tease.
Chet Buchanan at KLUC is known for talking rapid-fire to multiple callers on a topic. Before transitioning to a new call, Chet will often tease what the next caller will say.
“…Michelle is calling about a guy who brought his mom on all of their dates, but she will tell us why that was great. But first, let’s talk to Jennifer – what happened on your bad date?”
For an example of some these techniques, enjoy this clip of George, Mo and Cowboy Dave on a recent show at The Bull in Houston.