Interactive Radio

The quest to develop great interactive radio is really a process NOT and event, a marathon NOT a sprint. It requires almost constant vectoring, much like the Apollo moon flights where they realigned their direction over a million times to land on their target.

Today’s radio programmer can spend too much time in the analytical world of radio, forsaking the greater quest of creating a radio environment that connects emotionally with the listener. This is easy to do because mechanics are cut-and-dry issues. Creating a radio station that connects emotionally with your audience is a much more vague and psychological issue, which many do not feel comfortable with.

The most productive role of today’s radio programmer is to create a number of Featured Unique Emotional Links, or (F.U.E.L) for their audience. So, the more FUEL you have, the further you reach into a person’s mind, to harness more top-of-mind recall and satisfaction. While good mechanics are a documented part of a radio stations success, they really serve as an accentuation for your F.U.E.L or in a purely mechanical reference; your mechanics are your F.U.E.L injectors.

A big source for your F.U.E.L comes from an ample supply of short-burst audience interactions. This audience interaction is best when it fits in with the seamless flow and thought process of your announcers and elements of the day, instead of creating an overabundance of question-and-answer sessions.

Nothing creates listener momentum like the listeners themselves, nothing! When listeners hear you interact frequently with people just like them, they get to know you better and feel more comfortable with you, even if they, themselves, never call you.  People like to come to a place where they feel comfortable and they will come back often.

The most successful radio personalities in the country understand the importance of making their listeners the star of their show by putting them on center stage. This is almost always done by way of audience interaction

There are three steps in creating memorable phone calls:

  1. Educating the listener that you want them to be a part of the show, teaching them through example that talking to a radio personality on the phone is not a difficult thing.
  2. Using the “out of context” or “theatrical prop” phone editing technique. These are the most powerful forms of audience interaction and the types we should use frequently.
  3. Using these calls consistently enough to become know for it. I highly recommend that we have a minimum of 4 audience interaction calls per hour, in one form or another. Remember, this interaction can be very brief at times. You are trying to create the feeling that listeners are very closely dialed into your station and are ready to participate at the drop of a hat.

After you use these techniques for a while, you will hear how much better your show sounds. It takes a few minutes of extra planning but it is worth it. To really launch this process I have always used theatrical props. This means I would determine what I wanted a phone caller to respond to, then call a friend, wife, relative, consultant, etc, and have them say what I wanted them to say. So in this case the theatrical props help you educate your audience.

Our goal is to get your listeners to become emotionally attached to your product. The more attached they become, the higher your ratings will be. In theory, it’s that simple, the practical application to this can be more complicated, but still not that difficult.  Here are some steps you can take to develop that attachment. Here again, this is a big part of creating and interactive radio station.


Brian Wright is a 30 year radio veteran who has successfully served many companies over the years as Program Director, Operations Manger and VP of programming. 

After many years of success working for individual radio stations and clusters, Brian Joined one of the most trusted consulting firms in the country, Audience Development Group. 

For the last 15 years Wright has enjoyed building alliances with scores of stations in the US & Canada helping them grow in ratings and revenue.

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