– Call Early: Call early in the show so you get on the air before the program is over. Be prepared to be on hold for a while.
– Be Persistent: Keep calling if the line is busy!
– Plan Your Comments: Have a clear concise idea of what you want to say. Practice this sentence a few times while on hold.
– Focus on one point: Be prepared to give the producer or screener a one-sentence summary of what you will say. The more clear and concise you are, the more likely you will get on the air.
– Be Clear and Concise: When you get on the air, sound upbeat and excited to be on the program.
– Get to your point quickly. Say something like Hi (host name) and then get into your sentence. Have talking points in front of you if that helps you to focus while talking to the host.
– Stay upbeat. If the show is more humorous than serious, be sure your quip reflects the show.
– Stay friendly and polite.
– Once you are on hold, listen to the show on the telephone, not on the radio. The radio should be off to avoid the buzz that you hear often when listening to talk radio.
– While on hold, listen to the conversation. BE SURE what you have to say goes with the theme of the day and ties into the conversation on the show.
– Stations have varying procedures by call screeners and producers. Some will just take the caller’s name and viewpoint — you likely WILL have to tell what you’re calling about and what your point is — and will drop them until the host picks up. In a few cases, the call screener may get back to you and give you an update, but don’t count on it.
– Whenever the host starts speaking to the caller, you WILL be surprised. Count on it. If you’re not listening carefully, you may not realize that you’re on the air. In some cases, your opportunity to comment will be the first after a lengthy batch of commercials. That’s an even more likely time to be caught off guard.
– It’s always better to plan how you start your comment. It’s recommend beginning with “Hi, [host’s name],” and begin immediately with your statement or issue or comment. No hemming or hawing; no cornpone, “I’ve never done this before and I’m nervous.” If you can talk to a friend about the issue, you can talk to a radio host. Anyway, if you can get off to a good start, you will likely be comfortable saying whatever you plan to say.
– You should be prepared for the host to engage you in a bit of discussion or, perhaps, to ask you a question — sometimes not even directly related to
your point. One time a friend called in about a general transportation issue and mentioned Amtrak; the host bridged to questions about the last time he was on a
train and what the experience was like and what routes he particularly liked. Totally not the point of the call, but at least the host was nice to talk about trains in general. This is a tactic if the host does not want to directly talk about your point of view.