“We’ll be right back with your questions or comments, so don’t go away!” That’s a phrase we hear more and more as we tune into our favorite radio talk shows. And we look forward to hearing the questions, hoping a fellow listener will be brave enough to call in and ask our question for us. This type of programming is popular with listeners – it’s live, unrehearsed, and gives listeners the opportunity to feel connected to the issues, to the hosts and to their guests.
Those of us regularly booking interviews are finding that more and more producers are carving out half-hour time slots in their shows for call-in segments and asking media representatives to prepare their spokespeople to take questions from listeners.
Producers are telling us that call-in segments increase the quality of information that goes out over the airwaves, and it increases the usefulness of the information listeners are getting, because they are asking specific questions that concern them. This narrows the focus of the subject matter and increases the sense of intimacy between listeners, hosts and guests. The entire tone of the program becomes lively, sometimes confrontational and always spontaneous, as a two-way flow of information is exchanged between callers and studio personalities and/or guests.
The best topics for this format include:

  • Consumer tips, scam alerts and investment advice;
  • Health news and information; and
  • Legal issues and concerns

For well-prepared spokespeople, call-ins are a wonderful tool that can be used to gain credibility, popularity and be identified as “an expert” in a particular field. Listeners like to feel that they have someone on their side who wants to help them on an individual basis and can sort through complicated issues, while at the same time giving them solid, free advice.
So, if your spokesperson wants to connect with an audience, one of the best ways is to let the talk show host open up the lines and say, “Go ahead caller from Atlanta, what’s your question?”

by Martha Sharan


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