Psychics on the air can be great. And they can be horrible.
This article explains how and when to have a psychic on the air. Including:
- Why some psychic segments are terrific, while others are terrible.
- How to get better calls on the air.
- What to look for in a psychic.
- How to get more interesting stories.
Should You Have a Psychic On the Air?
Many broadcasters have come to a conclusion they shouldn’t have psychics on. Ever. Others love the phone action so much they turn it into a weekly feature like Psychic Thursday.
Sure a zillion callers jam the lines wanting to ask fascinating questions like, “Should I move to Boise?” or “When will I meet someone?”, but who really cares where their missing earring is?
Psychics can be highly entertaining. And they can also produce a giant “so what” listener response. But, a good one creates great stories.
Here’s what determines whether a psychic works on the air or not:
- Have a strategic plan and specific reason for the appearance. Do they fit the brand? Is it compatible with the format? What will the audience think of it?
- Why are they coming on? What is the occasion? Is it a one-time shot or a recurring feature? Maybe it’s a once per year visit, around a holiday like Halloween. Or in the first week of a new year making predictions. Or as a special guest for a specific reason, such as solving a mystery.
Once that is decided, it’s time to think about how to execute a psychic guest.
The most important element in making this work on the air is managing callers, and by extension, the content.
The standard questions of “Will I find love” or “Should I look for a new job” become boring fast. Like after 1 or 2 calls. Because nobody cares about the individual asking the question. It’s just not entertaining.
Be sure to screen the callers so they’re interesting, and bring diverse stories to the show. Screen those callers like never before. This is key.
Each caller should have a story, not just a general question. That means the phone screener is going to say “no” to a lot of callers hoping to get on the air.
Judge callers based on whether listeners would be interested in hearing the story. Examples:
- Someone stole my wedding ring. I think it was my son’s friend, but I can’t prove it.
- My grandpa never came back from the Vietnam War. Can you tell me what happened to him?
- There’s a woman claiming she is pregnant with my husband’s baby. Is it really his?
By the way, a good segment with a psychic on the air doesn’t need many calls to make it work. One or two great stories are better than moving through a lot of calls that listeners don’t care about.
Tricks For Better Callers
Follow the advice in screening calls here, but when screening psychic callers, take a couple of extra steps.
- Don’t be afraid to be slightly rude to the callers you reject.
- Before the segment, explain in a friendly way the type of questions you want, and don’t want.
- Accept text message and email questions. This help screen calls without answering the phone. Call the ones you’re interested in.
Obviously, the psychic should have a track record and credibility. There are a lot of shady performers.
Don’t just put any psychic on. Ask for audio of them on another radio show. For best results, meet them in person. Then perform a demo show with fake callers in a production studio. It’s important to know how they play on the air.
If they’ve never been on the radio before, spend some time with them, and if there is not a strong connection, pass.
But more than that, they must know how to interact on the air. Performing on the air for an audience is a different skill than readings with customers in a private room or a phone call.
The psychic should fit into the fabric of the show without taking it over. And they must be flexible enough to respond naturally to anything thrown their way.
Some personalities use a psychic for specific stories. That’s how Dave Ryan does it on KDWB/Minneapolis.
He brought on a psychic to help him tell one story, to help a woman say goodbye to her dead fiancé. In doing so, he brought out the intrigue and mystery of the story in a more tangible, interesting way.
In other words, the segment should be about the story, not the psychic! Having a story also keeps the appearance relatively short.
- Don’t be a skeptic. Be enthused about the psychic. If they get anything right, express a little amazement. When the host believes, the audience will believe. If you don’t love it, don’t put them on!
- Make sure a psychic doesn’t linger too long on one caller or take too long to come up with an answer.
- If the psychic has a phone number or website, plug it. Don’t let them do it. If they promote it, it will sound like a hack selling some worthless service.
- Don’t be afraid to take sad questions. They can be powerful. But stay away from anything that involves accusations of sexual abuse or assault. This segment should be mostly fun. And slightly amazing.
- There will be haters. Not all feedback is going to be terrific.
Having a psychic on the air is a tool to help personalities entertain. Used this way,it can be a powerful tool.