Who’s More Important: Call Screener Or Host?


(By Little Tommy Sablan) 

Screening a phone call is the single most important thing to learn when you are putting together the sound of your morning show. Whether you are a one-person show or an ensemble, the art of screening a call must be perfected.

The ideal phone screener should be someone who understands how your show works and sounds. Giving the job to an intern off the street is not wise. Good callers are worth gold, and can be even more valuable than the hosts themselves.

They are worth gold because in 2018 listeners have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and many other platforms to communicate with your show, so they are not calling in like they used to. When that phone line rings and that button lights up, it means you are striking a chord and authentic passion is coming out of the radio. This prompts a listener to do something they don’t like to do – pick up the phone, call a number, and talk to a real person.

When that weird thing next to the console lights up, here’s some basics on how to screen a phone caller.

1.  Tell them to turn off the radio and speak up. I know this is like saying “don’t forget to brush your teeth” to a child, but it’s important to remind callers to do this because they like to hear themselves on the air.

REMEMBER: it’s a big deal to them that they are calling you. So, give them a great experience.

2.  Sometimes you need to haul ass when screening phone calls. You may not have time to say the nice pleasantries to everyone because you are hustling to get that next call on. Remember, the sound of the show comes first, and if you have to be fast with someone to move on, do it.

If you get a phone call from the front receptionist saying a caller is mad that you hung up so fast and they are complaining, go ahead and pat yourself on the back because that means you are doing your job!

3.  A great phone screener should also know when not to put on a caller. For instance, if the caller is too soft spoken, they shouldn’t go on.

Little Tommy Sablan is the first and only radio producer in the National Radio Hall of Fame. Little Tommy was the executive producer for the famed Jeff and Jerr Show from 1988-2017. He’s now the senior producer for the Bob and Coe Morning Show at 101.5 KGB, as well as the producer and planner for KUSI TV San Diego.

Our thanks to The Randy lane Company for sharing this great article


  1. Hey Bob, That is why you screen calls to weed through the bad ones. Screening a call also means knowing when NOT to put on a call. BUT, I believe in callers and voices on the air.

  2. The best policy is not to take calls. Since most callers are boring and slow the pace of the show, they rarely enhance the experience for most listeners. Since KFI in Los Angeles stopped taking calls on most shows, the content is more compelling, ratings are up, and advertisers are realizing higher returns on their investments.


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