Radio Times

How to Be a Caller on Radio Times

Every weekday, the phones at WHYY’s Radio Times(888) 477-9499 — ring constantly. As they answer the calls to screen them, the show’s producers have only a few seconds to decide whether the caller will make a positive contribution to the show. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll have a much better chance of getting on the air.


The first thing you need to understand is that you, as a caller, have a role to play on the program – to help make the show worthwhile for the listeners. Your role, simply put, is as a contributor. And our role, as the program’s producers, is to choose which callers have the most to contribute to the quality of our show – in much the same way we decide which guests you, as a listener, will want to hear.

Just getting through on one of the phone lines into the Radio Times studio does not ensure you will get on the air. To do that, you’ll need to offer a comment or question that other people will want to hear. Also, we ask that you call only once a month, so that we can give other people a chance to get on the air.


Audio Quality

If we can’t hear you, you won’t get on the air, no matter how interesting your comment. We have the most difficulty hearing people calling from their cars or standing on the street. If you can, try to get to a better line and call us back. Wherever you’re calling from, be prepared to turn off your radio as soon as the screener answers the phone. Having your radio on makes it difficult for the producer to hear you and causes feedback if you do get on the air. You’ll hear the show through the phone while you are on hold.

Content Quality

Radio Times producers look for callers who are well-prepared to make thoughtful, articulate contributions to the show. To improve your chances of being chosen for the show, follow these tips:

1. Don’t call until you hear the host read the phone number. Sometimes we want calls early in the show and in that case, we’ll give the phone number during the show’s introduction. Other times we want the conversation to develop before we take calls, so we’ll wait a while before asking for callers.

2. Often, the host will frame the questions for listeners. These are not the only kinds of calls we will entertain that hour, but it will give you a good idea of the direction we think the show should go.

3. Think about what you want to say before you dial the number. Focus your thoughts so you will be brief and articulate with the producer who is screening the calls.

4. The best callers are people who have a single point to make; the worst callers are those who take too long to get to their point or are off-topic. We want the callers to help move the conversation forward, not take us backward or on a tangent. Your comment should be of interest to the general audience.

5. We think of Radio Times as a place for thoughtful, provocative, and engaging conversation. We look for a diversity of ideas and opinions. While we understand your passion about issues, this is not a place to vent.

Show Time

If your call is on point, you will be put on hold. You will hear the show through the phone. While you’re on hold, listen closely to the conversation and use the time to focus your thoughts and make them part of the program. Again, don’t forget: You have a role to play!

Finally, when the host introduces you, you will hear your name and the place you’re calling from. Don’t say, “Can you hear me?” We’ll be able to hear you. Just say hello and start talking.