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  • Steven Wilson-Beales

What’s the secret of talk radio?

What’s this? Two blog posts in one day? Well, on Wednesday night I attended the Radio Academy’s excellent event  ‘Who’s On Line 1?‘ at London’s Gibson Rooms and I simply had to tell you about it.

The event featured LBC’s James O’Brien and BBC Three Counties Radio breakfast presenter Iain Lee and offered a great insight into the popular phone-in format. Topics discussed included how they both started out in radio, what makes for a good radio conversation and why this format still works after many years.

Regarding that last point, O’Brien offered a wonderful soundbite describing the phone-in format as “live, immediate moments of personal revelation“. O’Brien argued there’s simply no other medium that can deliver this kind of audience interaction. I have to agree.

Not that it’s an easy thing to achieve. Both presenters agreed that there’s an element of trust you need to establish with the audience before people feel comfortable calling in on live radio to reveal their innermost selves.

“It’s too easy these days to go for the easy target” argued Lee as he told us about his early radio days as a presenter when he felt anyone was fair game for a ribbing.

Now, post -kids and more experienced, he’s no longer interested in winding up 15-35 males which, he admitted “is pretty easy to do”.

“Racists or homophobes are the most predictable”, said Lee “They just speak and they’ve done the job for you”. Both presenters agreed that they now tried to nurture a quality conversation, although they still teased “complete idiots”.

The evening finished with more than a few complements from the audience, loyal fans themselves of the phone-in format.

Altogether, a great evening and thanks to the Radio Academy for putting the event together.

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