A Better Way to Put More Listener Audio On-the-Air

Making it easier for your fans to be heard makes it easier for you


By Scott Lindy, Futuri Media

Listener voices are the heart and soul of every famous radio brand. When fans of a station or show are invited to join the conversation, magic happens. We’re humans, and we all want to belong to something bigger than ourselves. It’s an emotional magnet when you hear a listener’s voice saying something on the air you might say yourself or wish you had.

For decades, radio stations have used the studio phone line to run contests, take requests and get feedback on the topic du jour. The calls would pour in. One of the essential parts of a radio DJ’s job was to answer the phone. The studio phone is mostly silent these days because the world communicates differently now.

We heard from the experts, and you can too

We went to the front lines of radio in our most recent webinar, The Studio Line is Dead: How to Get Listener Voices On Air in 2022, to hear from the experts. Three of radio’s most strategic thinkers, Deb Turpin, Program Director for Z104 in Salt Lake City; Nathan James, Director of Marketing and Digital at SummitMedia and Jordan Miller, Digital Content Specialist at Steel City Media – Pittsburgh, spent 30 minutes sharing creative ideas and ways to keep the audience involved on the air. 

The entire guest panel of experts agreed that the Open Mic feature in Futuri Mobile apps makes getting listener voices on the air easy for the user and the station. Nathan James at SummitMedia became a fan of Open Mic at the beginning of the pandemic, “We weren’t out in public with a microphone walking up to listeners to get an actuality. So, it was a way for listeners to give us real-time feedback. To get that content and easily turn it into sweepers immediately was the first thing we did with it.

From Z104 in Salt Lake City, Deb Turpin puts kids on the air reciting the Pledge of Allegiance that not only gets more listener voices on the air but also builds tune in. “We solicit for it and tell them about the Open Mic feature and we’ll let you know when we’re going to play your pledge on the air. So you’ve got grandma listening, you’ve got mom and dad listening. You’ve got a big brother and a big sister, maybe some neighbors listening. And they get the chance to hear that little kid or the scout troop or the bridge club or whoever sends the pledge in. Everybody wants to hear their pledge on the air.”

Jordan Miller, with Steel City Media‘s stations in Pittsburgh, says, “On Q92.9 we created a section called ‘Talk to Q’ where we literally let listeners say anything. From a song request to a mock on-air tryout to be on the air and introduce some songs. We get listeners of all ages from all over.”

When listener audio gets turned on it’s ear

When listeners can simply tap their smartphone to record and send their voice to radio stations using a Futuri Mobile app, there’s no telling what you’ll get. Turpin uses Open Mic listener audio most stations would delete, “We got one Open Mic that says, ‘Dave & Deb, a couple of dumb ***es in the morning.’ We just turned it into a sweeper and we play it almost every day and it’s hilarious.”

Other creative ways to capture listener audio:

  • Record winners when they come to the station to get their prize. A mic on a stand, with branding in plain view, turns it into a video opportunity as well. Use a simple script or just ask questions (off mic and camera.) Get their name, hometown, what they won, and how they did it. What’s their favorite thing about your station? What’s their favorite song and why? If you want to record the listener saying specific branding statements you’ll get more bang for your buck using the ‘repeat after me,’ method.
  • Voicemail! It’s a bit more work but can work with the right approach. Here’s a cool twist on that idea; next time an artist visits the station, have them record outgoing greetings for your voicemail with a question for listeners to answer. Write questions designed to get answers from your listeners that you can really use, like, “who is the funniest person on the morning show and how can you prove it?”
  • Concerts, festivals, remotes, sporting events. Your phone is the microphone you take everywhere. Wear your station gear and say hello to as many people as you can. You’ll find fans of your station or at the very least, fans of the music and artists you play. Plan your questions ahead of time and weave them into the conversation rather than interviewing them, keep it casual to keep it real. When you find a fan, let them know you’re recording and definitely get their name/hometown and permission.

Increasing engagement with mobile = increasing revenue

The opportunity to drive revenue with your Mobile app starts with creating a content strategy built around a personalized and unique user experience. Sponsorships and client presence in your app should embrace the app’s overall design and creative concepts that listeners respond to the most. Futuri Mobile apps are designed to be monetized with that type of approach. As we heard in our webinar, there’s no shortage of ideas to increase mobile app engagement that put sponsors right in the middle of the action.

If you’re looking for standout ideas and creative angles that help get more listener voices on the air this webinar is a ‘must-see.’ Plus, our panel shares ideas for organizing and monetizing station mobile apps that you can use right now. Click to watch the entire webinar on-demand.


Scott Lindy is a Marketing Content Specialist and Partner Success Specialist at Futuri Media. He works with a select group of stations to drive their digital efforts forward, while also creating compelling marketing content about Futuri’s audience engagement and sales intelligence solutions. Prior to Futuri, Lindy spent 30 years developing an impressive programming resume at companies including Cumulus, Clear Channel, Lincoln Financial Media, and SiriusXM. He has also served on the boards of directors for several industry organizations, including the Country Music Association and Country Radio Broadcasters.

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