“Let’s open up phones…

…that’s right, it’s your phone calls, next, on the Fan!”

Right now, PDs across the country have picked up their iPhones and thrown them across the room.

Yet, I’m not against open phones.

I know, I know…it’s not focused, callers can be long-winded and boring, and they take you off topic…right?  It’s all true, yet…

…I’m calling “shenanigans.” 

Anything in radio can be great if you decide to make it great. Isn’t open phones potentially the same as PTI’s big finish?  Also, aren’t callers P1’s, thus worth courting? 

Instead of blaming the callers for making open phones boring and un-focused, blame yourself for not making it great. 

If you’re the producer, you’re the one who answered the phones and put boring, off-topic  callers on the air.  You’re the one who did not communicate to your host which callers were best.  And you, the host, you were the one who let a caller go on…and on…and on…

So how about this:

  • Get a fast-paced bed, or multiple beds.
  • Brand open phones with something that screams fast and interesting.
  • Open up the phones.
  • Politely cull bad callers (“thanks a lot for the call, I will pass your thoughts on to the guys…really appreciate you calling and listening” and then hang up).
  • Good callers: “Okay, please turn your radio down and listen over the phone…okay?  We will get to you as soon as possible.  Okay?  Also, you don’t need to ask the guys how they are doing…they’re doing fantastic, so just get right to your point, okay?”  Make sure the understand what you are saying.
  • What if a caller has 2-3 points: Listen to them, then help them pick the best one.
  • Grade the callers you decide to put on.
  • Cut them off, politely, when they are long-winded.  
  • Quickly give an opinion based upon their call and then move on.

Call screen example:
1 – Jared in Bloomington: (B+) Vikings need to fire GM.
2 – Lenny in St. Paul: (A-): Wants to take shot at Packers fans
3 – Jim in Minneapolis: (A+++) Wants Vikings to move to L.A.
4 – Olie in Stillwater: (B) Gophers need a new coach
5 – Kenny in New Richmond: (A+) has written a poem about Twins fans.
6 -Tony in Minneapolis: (B) Wild trade idea.

Let’s recap: Three great callers, and three damn good callers, all focused on what the market cares about graded so the host knows where to start first.  Start with Jim in Minneapolis, then go to Kenny in Stillwater.  Get it? 

Do we have to get them all on?

NO!  Your job is to entertain the thousands listening.  Your job is NOT to make sure callers get on the air.  If you can’t get to them, pick up the line, thank them for holding and apologize for not getting them on.  Then say goodbye and move on. 

Oh, one other thing…if you do this for 3-hours a day, 5-days a week, you deserve the crappy ratings you will get. 

One segment, once or twice a day, should be fine.

Questions?  I’m opening up the phones…

About Owen 181 Articles
Current sports radio talent coach, former PD at The Beast 980 (L.A.) and 710 ESPN Seattle who was also lucky enough to produce ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick Show. Fixing sports radio one neglected host at a time. Follow me on Twitter @SportRadioCoach.