There’s no doubt that phone response on radio shows has declined. There are many reasons, but the problem is compounded by changes in listening patterns that have yet to return to “normal” levels (pre-COVID). But some shows are finding creative ways to get listeners on the air. Here are a couple of tactics to cross-promote topics and generate great callers.
It’s pretty common to post what has already happened on the air on social media. But that isn’t always the most effective way to promote.
Cross-Promote Online First
This may shock some programmers and personalities who believe all content should first be heard on the air, then promoted online. But I can make a strong case that the opposite approach would drive more attention and response to the on-air content. Plus, it would make social media more interesting. And, it’s a free source of pre-testing content before using it on the show.
Start a topic online with a simple question. The GetUp Crew on Hot 96.9 in Boston asked this question in a Twitter poll:
When reaction blew up, they realized how passionate the topic might be. So they started the debate on the air which led to a spirited topic that drove more response to the poll.
The topic worked on the air because:
- It is a simple question that had been pollified and polarized. The two choices are very different. That made it easy for listeners to pick a side and have a fairly strong opinion.
- The wording is extreme. It’s not just “Which is your favorite?” but “Which would you get rid of?”. That elicits a far stronger emotional response.
- Everyone on the show had a strong feeling about which holiday to sacrifice.
Perhaps best of all, it worked because the show had confidence it was going to succeed because they saw the amazing reaction. In this case, it worked to cross-promote online content before taking it to the air.
Many shows get fewer calls because they fail to invite participation effectively. Cross-promote topics online to screen responses and find great calls to launch a topic. Here’s how The GetUp Crew started a topic on Facebook and used the comments to screen callers for the show.
The single best way to get calls on the air is to actually put calls on the air. That’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg challenge, but social media is a great place to create interest and anticipation. It’s also effective to cross-promote the on-air topic for the following morning.
This requires shows to plan content in advance. But doesn’t it make sense to build a content calendar for several days, then adjust as needed? We recommend our clients show prep a full week of show content. This allows more time to plan execution, ideas, and promotion. It can also help the folks that manage social media stay on top of your content.
Great radio shows don’t have to have callers to be successful, but it helps to have the option of using listener input for topics. This is just as important for solo shows as team shows. Try these techniques and experiment a bit. Cross-promote from on-air to social media and back again. It may be just what is needed to get those phone lines ringing again!
Founder/ CEO, Tracy Johnson Media Group
Recognized as one of America’s most innovative radio programmers and managers, Tracy Johnson’s broad background in traditional and digital media has influenced hundreds of radio stations, programmers and personalities.
Johnson’s radio programming success began in Lincoln, Nebraska and included stops in Kansas City and Jacksonville, Florida, eventually leading him to San Diego in 1992. There, Johnson led KKLQ (Q106) from 19th to 1st. The “worst to first” achievement was soon duplicated when he directed KFMB-FM from 22nd to 1st.
Applying his strategic expertise and creative promotion and marketing tactics, the stations earned dozens of industry achievement awards, including named Radio Ink Magazine’s “Best Programmer in America”. In 1998, Johnson became Market Manager of KFMB AM and FM.
In all, Johnson has programmed and consulted over 200 radio stations in more than 15 countries.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to apply this experience and knowledge full time, Johnson became EVP of Audience Engagement for Triton Media, advising over 700 media companies (radio, television, newspaper) to create synergy in their traditional and digital offerings to create new sources of audience engagement and revenue.
As founder and CEO of the Tracy Johnson Media Group, Johnson offers programming, marketing, promotion, talent coaching and digital consulting services.