Talkback radio could be defined as a topical phone-in radio programme. It is a forum for listeners to listen to the views of others and perhaps even phone the station and share their own views. Most phone-in talkback programmes discuss current events, in other words, things happening in the news at the moment.
However, as a host, you cannot simply say “today we are talking about…” and expect people to phone in. Here are some hints to creating a great talkback programme.
1: You need to tease your programme
You need to decide in advance what you are going to discuss in today’s programme. Then, promote it. Record a station promo; inform the other announcers about what you are doing, and get them to talk about it; fifteen minutes before your programme starts, join the previous announcer in the studio and chat about what is coming up. By teasing the programme and the topic, you are getting the listener to start thinking about it, and perhaps formulating an opinion they can phone in with.
2: Present the topic
Start your talkback programme by presenting the topic, and talking about it. Perhaps you want to present some facts or read some quotes on what others have said.
3: Give the topic a “lean”
However, facts on their own may not provoke listener response. You want your listeners to react. Present an opinion about the topic. Yes, take a side! What you are trying to do is to get your listeners to agree or disagree with the opinion you have presented. It may not matter if it happens to be your personal opinion or not. Just as long as you do it convincingly! (Playing “devil’s advocate is a handy skill to have, in order to find out what people really think).
Some listeners may feel you are being unfair and biased by presenting only one side of the argument. However, it is then their job to phone in and disagree.
The only limits to what you say, are: inaccuracy presented as truth; likely to cause harm; in bad taste or against station policy.
4: One topic may not be enough
If you talk about just one topic, the discussion may be over in 20 minutes! (not good if your programme is an hour). Choose one main topic, but briefly introduce a couple of others as well. You may end up with two discussions running at the same time, but two is better than playing a song because there are no callers!
There, I’ve presented some of my ideas. Do you agree or disagree?