It’s difficult to attract good phone callers on the radio, but that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. There are some excellent techniques, tricks, and tips that virtually guarantee organic callers but there are at least 9 sources of phone calls you may not have considered.

9 Sources of Phone Calls

None are difficult to attract and all are effective, but they all take a little time and effort to put in place. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to build a network that delivers exactly what you want when you want it.

Start With Frequent Callers: Every show has a handful of callers who like to participate. Superfans and Prize Pigs can be annoying, but you can use them to your advantage. They usually sound pretty good, so when a caller fits that criteria, ask if they will contribute to the show when needed. Then tell them you’ll call when you can get them on.

You could also invite participation on social media. You’ll probably get a ton of responses, and a bunch of listeners who are excited to in your inner circle.

Segment the list of callers and text or email them the day before to invite their input. You may want to record the call at their convenience (and before it airs) to schedule it most effectively. If possible, track of how and when you use each person, and include some character traits to quickly access just the correct type of character when you need it.

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Theater Groups: The local community theater has actors and actresses who would love to add your show to their resume. They’re creative, understand how to perform as a character, and can play any role you want! Also, most of them have friends in the theater. Ask them to refer others who would be good performers.

Drama clubs and acting classes: Theater trainees are usually interesting people with undeveloped skills who sound great as callers. Contact drama departments and instructors at schools to find out which of their students would be the best fit.

Voice Actors: Several companies offer a voice actor service for cash or barter. It’s convenient but expensive. The biggest benefit is that the actors know how to perform on the radio and often have ideas that improve a segment. Some actors are better than others, but since they do this regularly, working with them is usually fast and efficient.

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Improvisational Comedy Teams: Check out local comedy clubs that do Improv and track down an organizer or leader. They can be a great source of providing actors that respond spontaneously and naturally. Many will do it for free (it’s fun) or for a modest fee. It’s nice to send them small gifts (tickets, lunches, etc.) to thank them.

Organic Sources

Network with Peers: Personalities in other markets know how to play along on the air, and most would be willing to help you out if you ask. In return, you can play a role in their show, and it’s a win-win situation. Try to set up a network of a dozen or so shows that interact and are willing to perform as needed. You might even establish a closed Facebook group to organize the network.

Friends, Family, Co-Workers: Chances are, you’re surrounded by folks who can play a role with a little coaching. Identify those with an outgoing personality type and use them frequently.

Repurpose Other Calls: When listeners call to play a game or contest, keep a list of upcoming topics and ask for a response to some of the topics scheduled in the next few days. By recording and managing the calls, you’ll have content to launch your topic as soon as you launch it, exactly at the time you need it most.

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Run ads on Craig’s List: Craig’s List is full of ads from actors and actresses looking for work, and they’re usually willing to perform for your show for free! Just place an ad, select the category gigs, then talent, and write a simple ad like this:

ACTORS NEEDED for Radio Drama

Looking for male and female actors aged (age range) to play the role of “callers” to a popular radio show. No experience necessary. Voices and accents a plus. Improv skills and ability to respond spontaneously are a must! Respond with resume and contact info.


Regular contributors are a tremendous resource and should be part of every show’s toolbox to generate engaging content on the air. The phone may not ring as much as in the past, but exploring these sources of phone calls will provide an endless source of callers that make you sound great.