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Call Radio Talk Shows

Here's how to get on talk radio shows. Radio talk shows are an excellent way you can bypass liberal media bias to educate or rally to action thousands or even millions of people with one phone call.

Call the local talk shows in your area, the national shows such as those hosted by Rush Limbaugh and Mike Reagan, or set listeners straight on liberal shows!  It may be a little easier to get on the air when a substitute host is running the show, and local shows are much easier to get on than the national shows.  Sometimes they will invite more calls saying "we have a line open" or by repeating their call-in number.  Keep the talk show call-in numbers near your radio, in your car, and programmed into your phone so you can instantly call when they discuss an issue to which you wish to add your comments.

Email your Comments: You can e-mail or fax questions, comments and articles to talk shows, and some hosts do read e-mailed and faxed questions and comments on the air--saving you the struggle of getting through on the phone. They are only likely to use your comments if they relate to the issue they are discussing, but you can alert the host about other issues and ask them to discuss the issue on a future date. Some talk shows have a separate telephone voice-mail line where you can leave a brief comment for possible broadcast to avoid waiting on hold to talk on the on-air line.

Important note: email your message only to that one show because if they see other shows on the email address lines or receive it as a 'BCC', they will just delete it without reading it--they want an "exclusive" comment or question.

Be Prepared: Work out what you want to say or what questions you want to ask. You'll have some time (or a long time!) on hold waiting to go on the air, so use that time well.  You may find that writing down and/or rehearsing what you want to say will make it easier; or just write down a few talking points.

Stay Focused: Talk show hosts can sometimes be condescending (try getting on Rush Limbaugh's show and talking about abortion, the North American Union, or the loss of American jobs to China!); they may try to steer you into agreeing with their possibly different views; try to embarrass or belittle you; try to make you sound like an extremist (be prepared to be accused as a "conspiracy theorist" or "nativist"--the invented "insult" for anyone who believes in America and is proud to be an American); or try to get you off of your subject.  So be determined not to get distracted or to agree with other views than your own--but do it politely to avoid being cut off.  Praise of the host, or thanking the host for their show may help pave the way to get your opinion across without too much interference--Rush proudly states he wants calls that "make me look good".  Humor works too.

Don't Get Ambushed: If they ask you a question that is not what you want to talk about, just say what you were planning to say regardless--that is, don't answer their (sometimes leading) question at all, and don't sound defensive. 

Examples: Radio Host: "The next caller is against the amnesty bill.  What do you have against immigrants?  America was built by immigrants!  Tell me-- what country did your ancestors came from?"

Statement 1: You: "Well, my family was originally from (country)..." (Click)  Host hangs up on you, then takes the opportunity to ridicule you, falsely claiming you are against all immigration and thus a hypocrite.  By answering his question instead of making the statement you planned, you fell right into his well-oiled trap.

Statement 2: You: "Amnesty for illegal immigrants will encourage millions more people to break our immigration laws.  Don't you support following the law?  My family were legal immigrants--and I bet yours were too!" (Click) Host hangs up on you, but he has a tougher time attacking your view.  You made the point you planned in spite of baiting and taunting by the host, and the listeners got your message loud and clear.

Be Concise: Even friendly shows have a limited time per call (some shows are very fast paced), and you may have only a few seconds to make your point before they take another call, so be very concise and say your most important points immediately: "Thanks, Rush; did you know Congress is going to vote next week on HR 1234, the bill which would (describe bill)? "Every American must call their Congressman today in opposition to HR 1234."  Don't bother with introducing yourself unless you are calling as a representative of an organization, as that takes away from your precious seconds to give your message. If you have more than one question or statement, say so at the start: "I've got two quick points," otherwise the host may hang up after you make your first point, assuming you were done.

The Call Screener: Virtually every talk show has a call screener, who will ask what you plan to talk about, and you should be prepared with a very brief but interesting sounding summary of what you want to discuss.

The screener (who is often the program's producer) will decide if you go on the air or not, so you have to sell the screener on the idea that your comment, statement or question will add to the discussion.  The more calls they have waiting, the more tightly they may screen them (selecting only the best or most interesting questions/comments), and national talk shows will screen more tightly than local shows.  Be sure to sound confident and prepared or you will lose the first test of a screener: "Uh, I'm calling to, uh, ask about, you know..." will guarantee a hang up.  Depending on the host, you should plan and have a question to ask the host even if your major goal is to make a comment or to ask people to call their elected representatives.  The question you will ask is what you want to tell the screener, don't feel obligated to mention any comment or call-to-action because some hosts do not like comments, they want questions which they can answer, but once on the air you can usually get away with a quick comment or call-to-action.  You will get a good idea of whether the host is a "question-only" host (like Rush) or likes comments & statements (like George Noory) just by listening to the calls that do get past the screener.

Once your call has been screened, you will be put in a queue, which the host will usually take in sequence of calling or ranked by how interesting the calls are, though the show may well end before the host has talked with every waiting caller.  If the screener is particularly impressed with you, he may signal the host who may take your call sooner than earlier callers: "Caller on line 4 sounds interesting;" or the host may be looking for a particular type of comment to compliment his discussion.  Here is an screen shot from talk show software showing the type of information a host may see when you call.

Sometimes the screener will check back with people waiting on hold to let you know how long it might be, to ask if you mind waiting until after the news break, or even to let you know the topic will change at the top of the hour and ask if you have a comment about the next issue.

Topics Matter.  If you are calling to discuss a different issue than the host is discussing, the screener won't be interested in putting you on the air; and if you lie to the screener just to get on the air and then talk about something else, the host will likely hang up on you and may even ridicule you for lying--Rush is famous for doing this.  So what CAN you do?  Link issues: depending on the topics (your's and the host's), you might be able to show how one relates to the other.  If you want to warn people about an amnesty bill but the host is discussing a state tax hike, you can effectively make the link that massive numbers of illegal immigrants are responsible for heavy burdens in the state budget for police, welfare, health care and other expensive services; and that they certainly don't pay their share of income taxes.  You can also ask some interesting question about the host's current topic and then introduce your different topic: "Here's something else you may be interested in..."  Be creative.  Some shows, including Rush, offer an "open microphone" day or hour where they will take calls on any topic.

Timing Your Call.  Some talk shows can be very difficult to reach, particularly the nationwide shows, as well as local shows when discussing a hot topic.  Stations have a limited number of phone lines and hosts can only take a limited number of calls in a hour.  Here are a few tips which might help you get through.

Use the "7-second delay" to your advantage: dial or re-dial the number several seconds before a call is over--listen for the clues from the caller and host--and you may connect just as the caller hangs up.  The "7-second" delay is not a standard, many stations use up to a 30 second delay.  Call during ads too.  Some stations clear the phone lines when they change topics or hosts--they hang up on everyone who is on hold, assuming they are still waiting to discuss the old topic--giving you an opportunity to call near the end of the hour.  You may also try calling before the show even starts; you won't know what topics the host wants to discuss yet, but if the screener is already answering the phone, go ahead and ask.  Stations may put all lines on "busy" to prevent people from calling too early, so keep trying every few minutes.  Remember each redial on your cell phone will use a full minute of your monthly minutes, but if it takes you 50 redials (and an hour on hold!) to reach Rush's 20 million listeners, you can look at it as a good investment to educate so many people about your issue.

Be a Guest.  If you are particularly knowledgeable and articulate on your issue, you may want to ask talk shows if they will let you be a guest on their show.  Whether for a few minutes or for an entire show, you will have an opportunity to educate a great many people about your issue in detail.  Call the radio station's regular business line and make your pitch to the show's producer why you would be an interesting guest.  They may want your biography, any published works (which may include letters to the editor, blogs, college papers, etc.), and any credentials as an expert on your topic; and do mention if you have on-air or public speaking experience of any kind.  Broadcast experience might also be considered being a caller or guest on talk shows, or perhaps you were a radio, TV or sports announcer in school.  Public speaking experience can include school debates or theater, complaining about taxes at city council meetings, and speaking to groups at business or civic meetings. Mentioning this can give them some confidence you'll be comfortable talking on air and won't have stage fright.  Being a representative of an organization, a recognized expert, or published author helps, but there are many reasons a non-credentialed expert in a field may win the interest of a radio station.  If interested, the host or producer might do a screening interview or mock broadcast discussion to see how you would sound on air.  Many shows appreciate guests willing to field questions from the audience. 

Record It: Save the podcast of your time on the air from the station's website if they offer such, or record it on your computer. Then post the MP3 on your blog or website, and you can email the link to other shows as proof of your on-air talents.  Add some photos to make a slide show and you have a video you can put on the web.  If you are a guest (not just a caller), the station might be willing to email you an MP3 or send you a CD after the show if they don't post podcasts, but be sure to ask in advance so they can set it up. Once you have one show under your belt, you'll find it easier to be a guest on other shows or to make a repeat appearance on the same station.  Search the web or ask your local stations to find the producers and syndicators of the regional and nationwide shows; for example Premiere Radio syndicates Rush and George Noory; Radio America syndicates Liddy.  Rarely would you need to go to the studio: most talk show guests go on-air via the telephone.

Guest Host: If you become well-known to a talk show as a guest or a frequent and articulate guest, you should suggest they consider you as a guest host--to be a substitute host when the main host is on vacation or ill.  Previous broadcast experience is most valuable; but especially at small stations you might just get an opportunity if the host is impressed by you and they really need a guest host.  That can start a radio career.

Internet Radio: The internet offers unlimited opportunities to do a 'radio' or TV show at little or no cost.  It could be live or pre-recorded.  You can host the show on your own server or with a large internet radio company or a Youtube type site.  An internet radio show focusing on local politics may attract considerable numbers in your city.  A laptop with a wireless connection and free software will let you host the show most anywhere.


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