How to do a call-in podcast

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Call me, maybe? I’ve been listening to 13 years of the Lives in the Balance podcast, and it’s a call-in podcast basically when it was first recorded. (Don’t tell me radio is dead!)

1️⃣ Parents call the host and ask their questions.
2️⃣ The host answers. If they run out of time, he sometimes invites them to call again next week! 😍
3️⃣ That call-in show (sounds like a livestream to me! 😁 ) is then distributed through podcast channels – where I’ve been listening. (Create Once, Publish Everywhere in progress.)

Why a call-in podcast might be a good idea

A call-in podcast might be a good idea when the show could be even better and more useful to listeners when listeners actually call in and ask questions.

For example, in the case of the Lives in the Balance podcast, the host answers questions from parents. And parents are also the listeners in general so it’s a natural fit, and can actually create better content because people just ask different questions that can then be answered for everyone.

Read next: Booked: 9 Ways to Find Podcast Guests

Four ways to do a call-in podcast

Four common and less common ways to do a call-in podcast come to mind.

Voice messages

You can take guest calls on YOUR podcast and livestream via the Spotify for Podcasters voice message function. It’s not live, but you still get the question and you can run it and it’s in the caller’s own voice.

Once people leave a message, you can play it on the show or export it to run it on your live stream. It’s really a feature that seems underused from my observation, but why not give it a try?

getting voice message for your podcast

Live radio-type show

If you really want to do a true “call-in” show, give BlogTalkRadio a shot, which is where you can do that. You can say an actual phone number on air and people can call in with their questions.

The biggest problem with a phone call on-air is that it does sound like a phone call. But if it’s a good question, why not.

Livestream comments

Maybe the newest version of a call-in podcast is comments by people watching. Encourage them to ask questions and encourage them to participate and share their opinions about the content being shared.

Read next: How to get livestream viewers on LinkedIn

Invite commenters on the stream

This one might be a little bit more trickier, but why not invite commenters who have a question to come on the stream and ask the question on-air? This is like the live stream version of a call-in show. The only problem is that you have to send them the link to actually join the show backstage which logistically is harder than it sounds.

But the more I think about it: every livestream I produce has a unique backstage link. So why not share that publicly, if you want people to join and ask their questions on-air? Because after the episode is done that link doesn’t go anywhere anymore anyways. And just because somebody is backstage, doesn’t mean you have to let them on the stream.

Final thoughts

No matter how you conduct your call-in podcast, it’s important to monitor what people want to talk about. And when people go off the rails, it’s quite OK to cut them off.

But before you ever start consider what the goal is to begin with, and whether or not, your style works for this format. For example, my podcast is currently 24 minutes and that’s not enough time as it is just for the guest. I probably would not want to add call-in questions into that format.
Now, if I go live an hour or two every day, then call-ins might work just fine. So the point here is that no matter what you decide, understand why you are doing it and what the point is and how it will help you advance your content strategy.

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