Wednesday, September 08, 2010

How to be an Adequate Sports Radio Caller

I'm writing this because I care. I care about you, the guy who calls sports radio during his lunch break. The woman who calls after dropping off the kids at school. The kid who is living with his parents but not yet in college. I want you to succeed, but more importantly, I don't want to despise you and say mean things, or wish for awful things to happen to you. Oh, and I don't want people switching the channel because you are awful. So to be clear, this is only mildly self-serving, I consider the rest a public service.

1. Turn off your radio
There's this little thing called a 10 second delay. If you are trying to hear yourself on the radio, everything you say won't come out over the air for 10 seconds. It's there to protect us from the yahoos who drop f-bombs, racial slurs, people's name and phone number, or people who try to sneak in free advertising. I've said this on the air before, but just so it is written: If you want to hear yourself on the radio, when you hang up the phone, turn up the volume and listen to the last 10 seconds of your call. Simple. Effective. Nothing rankles hosts and listeners more than to hear a 10 second echo coming from your end of the phone. I don't care if you are breaking down the aspects of the 46 defense like you're Buddy Ryan, all I'll hear is your radio. You are shooting yourself in the foot. So stop it.

2. Get away from your children and dogs
I have 3 kids and 2 dogs, and I love them all dearly. I wouldn't trade them for anything in this world. With that said, however, they have no timing when it comes to an adult being on the phone. They could be quiet for 2 hours, but the very second I get on the phone, they chase each other around. Or chase the cat. Or have a giggling contest. Or see who can fart the loudest. Or bark at a squirrel half a mile away. They are loud, and they are as obnoxious as a 23 year old drunken frat girl at her best friend's wedding. They have no inner volume, and the very second you're on the air, they will talk. Or laugh. Or scream. Or yelp. Or ask to use the bathroom. Or just bug the crap out of you for no real reason. Nothing ruins a call quite like a kid yelling "I have to pee" as you are telling us how you once walked in on Wilt Chamberlain nailing your mom. This also goes if you are a phone-in guest for a show. Please, step away from your children for a few minutes. Or feed them. Or something. (Make sure they are safe).

3. Put up your car window
You are on your fancy new blue tooth (because as we all know none of us talk on the phone and drive without some sort of hands-free device), and you are up. You don't want to run your AC, but it's too hot to leave the windows up. You crack the window halfway, thinking it's alright. You know what the host and listeners hear as you tell us the story of when Tony Eason broke up with your sister on Thanksgiving? Wind. Lots and lots of wind. Whooshing never makes a call better. Ever. Put your window up. All the way.

4. Know where your cell signal craps out
We all travel the same area each day for the most part. We all know where the dead zones are on the trip. We know where we'll get the "No service available" logo. Yet, each day, people try to call just before driving into them. Or while driving in them. Either way, it sucks, because you feel like an ass for having to disconnect on the host end, and the listener just thinks you have a 5 dollar phone that you forgot to pull the antenna out on. I know sometimes you get stuck on hold, or something else happens, and that's fine, it happens to all of us. Just try to make sure you are doing everything in your power to not sound like someone is hitting your cell phone with a barbecue skewer.

5. Listen to the show before you call and know what they are talking about.
Always good when someone dials the call-in number before they turn the radio on. "I don't know if you guys have talked about this" or "I wanted to get your thoughts on Reggie Bush and the Heisman." Well, we were talking about the Patriots and Tom Brady's contract extension, but sure we'd love to stop the tracks on that to break down something 5 people in the listening area care about. (I know this could be eliminated with a solid call-screener, but the Big Jab has been at this for almost 10 years, and there is no call-screener coming here) Have just a little bit of courtesy when it comes to your fellow listeners. We live in Maine, do you think people want to hear about the Patriots or about your Green Bay Packers fetish?

6. We'll ask you for your name, don't name yourself
Everyone wants to be Frank from Gloucester, or Erroneous Eric, or whatever. If you stand out, we'll give you a nickname or call you by your name. Trust us, it doesn't take long. If everyone called the station with a nickname, or a handle, or whatever, it would get old fast. (Looking at you Yahoo Man)

7. Have a point you want to make and have a solution
Don't aimlessly ramble, or try out the material that makes Aunt Bertha laugh on Saturday night. Come in with something to say. Even if you are horribly wrong, it saves everyone from listening to you blather on about how much parking is at Fenway. You want the Red Sox to get a new catcher? Tell us who you want them to acquire. Don't say "They need a new catcher" and expect us to agree by default or just drop a name.

8. Don't be an ass
This is a catch-all for anything I missed above. You know what being an ass is, don't be one on the air, it's that simple. Don't call while taking a dump and flush the toilet halfway through. Don't call from a closet and whisper like you are hiding from someone. If you are planning to call, just ask yourself "will this make me look like an ass?". If the answer is yes, put the phone down, and walk away.

I implore you to add anything I missed in the comments below. In the words of the storm troopers on Tatooine, "move along, move along..."

Matt Boutwell is a former caller to the Big Jab who now co-hosts the "Big Jab Weekend Warm-Up" (presented by Mr. Sparky, America's On-Time Electrician) and is the interim co-host of the long-running "Morning Jab". He enjoys Rice Krispie Treats.


Dick said...


I enjoy listening to the all the Big Jab local programs when I have a chance to listen. That's one reason why I never call the show...I only listen sporadically. I do enjoy some of the callers though, they're a gas!

Chris said...

Don't lie to the hosts about something you heard them say, even though you know damn well they didn't say it.

Eric said...

Don't try to deceive a call screener... They are waaaay too wise to fall for any trickery making radio tomfoolery virtually impossible...

packrat54 said...

Green Bay Packers fetish?!? And here I thought it was an obsession...


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