(By Jeff McHugh) Radio shows sometimes have a greeting or salute to/from the audience; and the stories behind how they got started are sometimes as fun as the greetings themselves.
Years ago, Rush Limbaugh thought too much airtime was taken up with each right-wing caller explaining why they agreed with him, so he asked them to just say “ditto” instead. In a short time, every call began with “ditto, Rush!” and Rush listeners became known as “dittoheads.”
When Preston and Steve answer the phone at WMMR Philadelphia, callers often greet the show with “gadzooks!” and the show shouts it back. It all began one day when Steve Morrision used that word while impersonating married President John F. Kennedy in a panic about an incriminating gift from Marilyn Monroe, and “gadzooks” became a motto.
In Chicago, WKQX listeners greet Brian Ali and Justin with “Ahoy!” That got started one St. Patrick’s Day morning when everyone was shouting a series of Irish greetings, like “erin go bragh” and Justin randomly blurted out “Ahoy!” Now P1 fans shout “ahoy” at them across Michigan Avenue.
One night, Carla Marie and Anthony at Kiss FM Seattle were walking to dinner with their boss. A guy on a bike went by yelling, “You guys look great!” They decided to steal it for the show. Soon afterward, every listener interaction began or ended with “You look great!” The catch phrase even became part of their “You Look Great Challenge.”
Across town, the guys on The Men’s Room at KISW Seattle laughed when Cartman exclaimed “Hola Bitcholas” in an episode of South Park, so they started greeting listeners that way. Years later, Steve Hill was in Mexico and a bartender explained what it actually means in Spanish: “Hello naked ladies.”
In Minneapolis, Dave Ryan says, “We used to tell a joke and then loudly and clearly say, “Do? You? Get? IT?” which was really funny for a year or so, and listeners did repeat it back to us. We even had KDWB mugs made that said “Do you get IT?”
How do you find your show’s original catchphrase? It may be up to the listeners to find it organically. Pay careful attention to how the audience responds to your show. The word or phrase they repeat back could become part of your show’s legend.
Jeff McHugh is a member of the team at the Randy Lane Company.