6 Questions For On-Air Phone Calls

One of the foundational pillars of a strong radio brand is community… listeners gathered around a common passion for your station.

Using listener phone calls can be a powerful “community-building” tool- helping listeners feel connected to your air talent and your station, and creating opportunities for solo air talent interaction.

On air talent love the interaction with listeners, and great calls can really take a show’s content to a new level, but there is risk that comes with that. Left unchecked, talent can quickly digress into creating subpar content just to “make the phone ring”, and ultimately getting lazy as they trust the phones to just fill breaks.

Program Directors and air talent should be ruthless in making sure that only the very best callers get on the show.  I’ve built a list of questions to ask about every phone call before you put it on the air – and if the answer to any of these questions is “NO”, its probably a reason to pass on airing.

Is the caller saying something atypical? Great calls include listeners with unique, never thought of perspectives or stories that are compelling, or include the element of surprise. If the caller’s comments sound like something you’ve heard before, or you’ve read it on the internet, skip it.

Does the caller engage in lively conversation with you?We’ve all had conversations with people in which it feels like we have to do “all the work”, drawing out anything more that 1 or 2 word answers from them.  When those listeners get on the air, other listeners can sense that discomfort. Make sure the callers you air contribute to the conversation in a lively way, and move the topic forward.

Is the caller’s pace of speech matching the tempo of the station?Sometimes a listener might have a good story/comment, but their speech pace and energy is too slow and drawn out, and airing the call as is would just drag the tempo of the station down.

Does the caller sound like your target listener?When you air a phone call, the subliminal message you’re sending to your whole audience is, ‘these are the people who listen to our station’, so pay extra attention to make sure callers sound like the people you’re trying to attract. Callers that sound too old or too young can quietly tell the listeners you want that the station or show is designed for someone else.

Do the caller’s comments resonate with the target listener?As a close cousin to the previous question, when callers refer to things that don’t connect with your listener, you’re sending a message to your entire target audience that your station is for someone other than them. When your caller mentions how “adorable their grandkids are”, or references “M.A.S.H.” as their favorite TV show, there’s a good chance that those are references your target listener doesn’t understand, or just can’t relate to.

Does the caller’s audio sound clear and easy to understand?With everyone calling on cell phones, the variance in quality can be drastic. Only phone calls with the absolute HIGHEST audio quality and clarity make it on the air.

Remember, when you put a caller on the radio, what you’re actually saying is that the comment from the listener is BETTER than whatever you planned to air in that moment. Getting into the habit of asking these 6 questions when considering whether or not to put a call on the air will really help keep the level of excellence of what’s coming out of the speakers high.

 

Matt Stockman
Director of Programming, Star 99.1

Matt Stockman is 35-year veteran to radio, graduating from Illinois State University and starting his career at WBNQ radio in Bloomington, IL in the 1980s. His involvement in Christian radio began with a season at WJRX in Chattanooga, TN in the early 1990s, and has included launching WBDX/Chattanooga, Spirit FM/Lynchburg, 101.1 The One/Nashville, and 10 years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association at WMIT/Asheville. In 2012, after a short-term missionary assignment serving Christian radio stations in Europe, Stockman joined CRISTA Media (KCMS, KFMK, KWPZ, KCIS) as Director of Programming. 

From 2017 to 2019, he served as the Program Director for the K-LOVE Radio Network. Currently, Stockman serves as the Director of Programming at WAWZ/STAR 99.1 in NJ/NY, and is a frequent contributor to efforts that raise the standard of excellence in Christian broadcasting.

Related posts

As if serving one community isn’t a privilege, BOOST RADIO served six in 2021. In January, BOOST reintroduced themselves to St. Louis when they moved from a translator to a full-power signal. BOOST hit the cold streets with weekly “Sweet Stops;” the first 95 listeners to show up got free treats. BOOST team members served as the official DJs for two different Polar Plunges with the Special Olympics in February; nearly $200,000 was raised from hundreds of brave swimmers. March was when BOOST grew into Chicago! To celebrate, the station delivered deep dish pizza to listeners in St Louis and Chicago. BOOST RADIO renamed April 1 to April Fuel’s Day and had DJs pop up at random gas stations in both markets to buy gas for strangers. Spring & Summer brought BOOST to Minneapolis, Portland, OR, Pittsburgh, and Fayetteville, NC. The station brought their new friends Pop Up Parties for their backyard BBQ’s and open houses. BOOST supplied food, party favors, and custom mixes for dozens of winners nationwide. During the late summer and early fall, the station partnered with Out of the Darkness for suicide prevention walks. Across all BOOST markets, nearly 10,000 walked together. During the holidays, the station teamed up with rapper Thi’sl & the Salvation Army for the Full Ride Toy Drive. BOOST listeners filled a storage locker & U Haul full of gifts for children in need. 2021 was a year BOOST hit the streets and empowered its audience to bless others in their communities.

×

At Hope Media Group, the passion for Christ and the city of Houston shine in its efforts to mobilize the community to do good works so that more people can experience God’s love. After Hurricane Ida, generous KSBJ and NGEN listeners raised over $276,000 with God’s Pit Crew, sending 684 KSBJ Team Help Crews to Louisiana and sponsoring the distribution of 2,711 Blessing Buckets. KSBJ listeners also provided 20,000 bottles of water for fellow Houstonians after the winter freeze, and over 2,450 KSBJ and NGEN listeners participated in our annual Blood Drive with Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center saving more than 7,000 lives. A ministry committed to prayer, KSBJ formed the Greater Houston Prayer Council (GHPC), unifying 48 prayer groups across the city with an interdenominational, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational focus. KSBJ was also a beacon of joy to the community serving 3,000 cups of Blue Bell ice cream last summer and handing out 4,175 Easter Crosses for listeners to display as a reminder that “He is Risen.” During the holiday season, 91.7 Vida Unida blessed 100 families with Thanksgiving meals, and KSBJ listeners fulfilled the Christmas wishes of 9,315 children under the care of Houston CPS in partnership with Be A Resource. Beyond loving their neighbor, caring KSBJ and NGEN listeners sponsored 1,233 Kenyan children through Compassion International. In a year of unforeseen challenges along with the enduring effects of COVID-19, Hope Media Group listeners served as the hands and feet of Jesus like never before.

×

KCBI shares Jesus’ love and transforming power in Dallas-Fort Worth, inviting listeners to join the station in serving the community. KCBI Outreaches blessed nearly 67,000 individuals in 2021. In February, KCBI listeners provided 25,000 bottles of water to people in DFW whose water supply had been contaminated after an unprecedented winter storm disrupted power for several days. Later that month, nearly 1,300 women gathered for KCBI’s HeartStrong Faith Conference in Dallas to worship, pray and grow. Speakers included bestselling author Margaret Feinberg, podcaster Tara-Leigh Cobble, and theologian Nika Spaulding. Through KCBI’s Summer of Service, listeners donated over 13,000 meals, along with 9,000 Bibles, to community members still struggling with the COVID pandemic. Another 350 KCBI volunteers served at local ministries on our Summer of Service Day. They assembled 1,000 Love Boxes for women facing unplanned pregnancies; prepped backpacks, sorted clothing and distributed food to those in need; and prepped nearly 2,000 shoes for kids whose parents otherwise couldn’t afford them. Thanks to listeners’ generosity, KCBI distributed more than 32,000 Bibles to Texas prisons, human trafficking ministries and humanitarian ministries in 2021. Listeners purchased sonograms for pregnancy centers, which helped save more than 5,500 babies from abortion. They provided 38,000 bottles of water, along with 500 Bibles, to victims of the devastating tornadoes that swept through Kentucky in December. And throughout 2021, listeners offered more than 21,300 prayers for requests through KCBI’s Online Prayer Center. KCBI is grateful to God for the opportunity to impact DFW and beyond with Jesus’ love and transforming power.

×

Life 102.5 has a heart for Madison! For the 4th year in a row, during Valentine’s season, Life 102.5 invited listeners to share the love of Jesus with children and families receiving care at the Children’s Hospital. Listeners generously provided 2,234 Lego kits for the children. Afternoon host Summer Shepherd interviewed Dr. Melissa Mork on her award-winning podcast, “No Seriously, How Do I Do This?” Their conversation inspired the station’s “Embrace Play” giveaway, supporting families’ mental health during the pandemic. Life 102.5 provided a week’s worth of experiences for listeners, including art classes, game nights, and more. Morning Show host Dave Conour joined Team World Vision and rang two full marathons to bring attention to World Vision’s efforts of providing clean water to children and families around the world, Dave’s many miles provided 260 families with clean water for life! Life 102.5’s 21st annual Shoebox Gifts for Kids drive collected more than 1500 Christmas boxes of school supplies, hygiene items, toys, and winter clothing for children in Dane County. It was the station’s largest year yet. Amanda Brooks, Morning Show co-host and host of the weekly program “Faith & Life Today” focused on giving voice to women’s health, family and children’s issues in Madison including, education, marriage and divorce, immigration, and social justice. Life 102.5 had a wonderful year of reaching families, through children, with the love of Jesus. That’s why in 2022, Life 102.5’s outreach goal is focused on helping the most vulnerable children and their families in Madison and Southern Wisconsin.

×

Spirit 92.9 continued its commitment of blessing the central Minnesota community through intentional service projects. As the pandemic affected another year, station listeners rose to the challenge of uplifting and encouraging those feeling loss, loneliness, or burnout. Thanks to the help of generous listeners and business partners, Spirit 92.9 raised more than $8,000 in an online tip jar that blessed the staff at 19 local restaurants returning to work full time with huge tips during the Big Tip promotion. The restaurant workers were grateful for the visibility and appreciation. Numerous area teachers nominated by their students and families received special honor at the end of the school year with flowers and $500 VISA gift cards as part of “Thank A Teacher” organized by Spirit 92.9. In the fall, Spirit 92.9 partnered with two local ministries and provided free holiday meals to the community. During the ‘More Than A Meal’ event, the station worked with community members who donated enough to provide 6,000 meals and give help to people in need. Station team members also prepared and served meals together at the local homeless mission. At Christmastime, 11 community members wrote Spirit 92.9 and shared the story of someone they believed deserved some extra joy due to personal hardships. The individuals received $1000 to bless that person during Spirit 92.9’s Share The Joy promotion. Phone calls were made to hundreds of listeners to offer prayer and encouragement. Prayer support and a personal response is offered all year long.

×

2022 Membership Exclusives

January – 2022 Calendar
February – Social Series for Holy Week
March – Virtual Radio Station Field Trip
April – Book
May – Mediabase Webinar
June – Surprise at Momentum
July – Exclusive Momentum Content
August – Virtual Peer Networking Gathering
September – Fall Fun Box
October – Techsurvey Webinar
November – Noisemaker Promotions Vol 2 Book
December – Christmas Surprise 

*subject to change

×

Jim Campbell, Founder & Network President of Radio Training Network, Inc. began his radio career in commercial radio in Tennessee in 1964.  In 1966 he moved his family to Lakeland, Florida to attend college, and upon graduation he joined the staff at First Assembly of God Church where he and the church launched in the mid 1970s the first Contemporary Christian Radio Station in the nation, WCIE-FM. The station grew in both market impression and influence not just in Lakeland, but around the country inspiring others to follow Jim’s lead. In 1989 Jim left the church and founded Radio Training Network, Inc. (RTN) and over the next 30+ years, he oversaw the acquisition and development of 40+ stations plus translators. With 130 team members, RTN stations serve the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Missouri. These stations are well recognized in their respective markets thanks to the servant leadership of the staff, aggressive marketing, and a commitment to a strong emphasis on Jesus first. At present RTN has some two million listeners each week on air and approximately the same number online.

×

Andrea Kleid is a 24-year veteran of radio and records. She began her career working in Christian radio at WNLT in Cincinnati, and then moved onto WAY-FM in West Palm Beach working in programming and promotions. Her next stop took her to JOY-FM in Tampa where she served as the Promotions Director. In 2004, Andrea moved to Nashville to begin her music industry career in radio promotion under Grant Hubbard at Capitol CMG. In 2008, Andrea became the Vice President of Promotion at Word Label Group where she led one of the most successful and influential radio promotion teams in the Christian music industry. Through her signature brand of honesty, passion for Christian music, and focus on relationships, Andrea developed a reputation for successfully launching new artists’ careers including for KING and COUNTRY, NEEDTOBREATHE and Francesca Battistelli. This year, Andrea celebrates her fifth year as the President of her own company, Boxer Poet. An advocate for both radio and artists, Andrea continues to zealously host conversations around further representation for women and people of color on Christian radio.

×

Jason Sharp has a rich history with CCM radio and leadership. His early years at WONU/Chicagoland and The Bridge/Delaware gave flight to his passion for great programming and innovative promotions. As Program Director of WCQR/Johnson City and eventually the network PD for Positive Alternative Radio, Jason’s influence grew across the industry. In 2007, Jason joined the team at Northwestern Media as Program Director and then Station Manager of KTIS, Minneapolis/St Paul. In 2015, Jason furthered his formal education and earned his master’s degree in organizational leadership. Applying his leadership knowledge and skills to work, he now serves as Senior Vice President of Broadcasting at Northwestern Media’s 23 stations in 14 markets across ten states that service 1.5 million listeners each week. Jason also served Christian Music Broadcasters, first as a charter member and eventually as the lead of CMB’s educational track at Momentum for more than ten years. He then served as the organization’s board chairman from 2017-2020. Jason continues to inspire others within Christian media toward excellence and compassion through a Christ-centered attitude, education, and practical application.

×

In 1972, while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Orlando, Johnny Stone dreamt of a second kind of “air force,” that of radio. He took an overnight position at WDIZ-FM, the station where Z88.3 now stands. In the past 50 years of his career, Johnny’s work and personality raised the bar for other programmers in markets ranging from New York City, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Diego, Tampa, Atlanta, Tucson, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. During his stint as Program Director and Morning Show host at Star 99.1 New York, his team won the NAB Crystal Radio Award and CMB Station of the Year. Presently, Johnny serves as afternoon host with his wife, Stacey, at 91.9 WGTS in Washington D.C. winner of the 2021 NAB Marconi Award for Religious Station of the Year. Owner of StoneStudios, LLC. and as a 22-year veteran in Christian media, Johnny mentored several on-air talents. Today, along with his on-air role at WGTS, he mentors college students at CMBU, teaching and modeling the belief that “you have to win in the hallways to win on the airwaves.”

×

Lisa Williams was called to Christian radio while praying in 1990. She walked into KCVO in Camdenton, Missouri and started on the air that same week. Over the past 32 years, Lisa served in various roles in on-air, programming, fundraising, and station management at radio stations and networks including K-LOVE, Z88.3, Star 99.1, KCVO, and KCWN. As an on-air personality, Lisa earned several number one ratings in several markets and was the recipient of three industry awards. Lisa now serves as the Network Talent Coach for Northwestern Media, owner of 23 stations in 14 markets across ten states that service 1.5 million listeners each week. While at Northwestern, Lisa hosted the nationally syndicated show Life with Lisa Williams from 2016-2021. She stepped away from the show to focus on coaching more than 90 on-air talents, encouraging and nurturing them to shine the light of Christ through excellent radio. When she’s not coaching talent, Lisa helps stations raise money for their operations. She also hosts a Facebook group for women on-air in Christian radio called GodsRadioGirls and helps facilitate their annual retreat.

×