PodSchool Podcast | How to get callers on your podcast


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Female caller - Illustration of woman talking on a phone

Your listeners want to be part of your show too

Getting callers on your podcast is a great way to involve your audience and make the show more interesting.

Best of all, it doesn’t require a complex studio set up to make it happen.

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Why would you want callers on your show?

It adds audio texture

Audio texture is just a wanky way of saying different bits of audio e.g. sound effects, callers, music.

Adding different elements to your podcast can help keep things interesting because the content is delivered in a more creative way than just one person talking.

It rewards listeners for reaching out

Don’t underestimate the power of someone hearing themselves on a show they love.

If you ask your listeners to get in touch with you and share a story, tip or question then featuring them on your podcast is a wonderful way to say thank you and encourage other listeners to get in touch too.

It can be a great source of content

One of the biggest challenges, when you’re doing a regular show, is coming up with content.

When you open your show up to callers you’re also opening it up to their stories, experiences and opinions and that can be a great source of additional content.

How to find content for your podcast


The different ways to get callers on your show

Call them and record them

This method is useful if you need to engage with someone to draw their comments, opinion or story out of them.

Basically, you’re conducting a mini interview.  Then you can use the audio of you interacting with them or cut up their answers and turn them into shorter grabs to use throughout your show.

Get listeners to record themselves

This is when a listener records a message in their own time that you can edit up and insert into your show.

We use this in some of our Mamamia podcasts when the content calls for personal stories.  For an example of this check out our sex podcast, Sealed Section and our podcast about separation and divorce, The Split.

Why you should design an ideal listener for your podcast


The benefits and disadvantages

You’ll have more control if you call people

Most people calling your show aren’t podcasting professionals so they won’t know exactly what you want from them.

They also might not be great at expressing themselves in a succinct way.  But when you’re on the phone to them you can coach them and get exactly what you need.

People are less nervous when they’re recording themselves

When you’re calling someone it can be really intimidating.

Not only because they’re aware they’re being recorded but also because they’ll be talking to the host of a show they’re a fan of.

If your audience members have the option of recording themselves in their own time this will help them feel more at ease.

If they’re less nervous you’ll end up with better audio.

Getting people to record themselves saves you time

If your audience sends their messages to you, you can have a quick listen through and pick the ones you want.

This way you don’t have to spend time calling them and coaching them through their story.  But it does mean you’ll have less control over the audio that ends up in your inbox.

How to get the best quality podcast audio when remote recording


So, how do you do it?

Get them to record a message on their phone

While I wouldn’t advise recording an entire podcast on your phone, for callers this is absolutely acceptable.

Podcast listeners are used to the audio quality of callers and even some guests on podcasts being lower than the quality of the host.

So if you’re using short audio grabs to pepper through your episode, audio recorded on a voice recording app is perfectly fine.

Leave a message using Speakpipe

Speakpipe is an online voicemail service where your listeners can record a message for your show.  This can be recorded on their computer or phone.

To get this rolling you’ll need to set up a Speakpipe page and share the URL with your audience.  Or you can install a button on your website so people can click to leave a voicemail.

Call them using Skype

If you purchase Skype credit you can call people on their phone rather than Skype to Skype.

Skype’s recording function only allows you to record Skype to Skype calls so you’ll need to use a third-party program like ECamm Call Recorder (or Mac) or Pamela (for PC) to record the call.

I use Ecamm Call Recorder and one of the things I love about it is that once you get the recording you can split the track so you’ve got separate audio files for each person. This gives you a lot more flexibility when you’re editing.

Call them using a RodeCaster Pro

RODE make fantastic podcasting equipment and the RodeCaster Pro is a brilliant addition to their product suite.

It’s basically a simple mixer that allows you to connect your phone (via cord or bluetooth) so you can record calls directly into your audio editing software.

It’s literally as simple as connecting your phone, turning up the phone fader and pressing record.

Do you need a mixer for your podcast?


So there you have it!  A bunch of ways to get callers on your podcast.

Of course, whether or not you do this depends on whether it’s the best way to deliver your content so always have that in mind.  Because peppering your show with audio of your audience “just coz” won’t be interesting, it’ll be confusing.

But well thought out, well-placed caller audio will add something really special to your show.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to the show. Today I am answering a question from Sara who emailed me to ask whether I had any advice on how to get callers on to your podcast. The easiest way to do this is via a website called Speakpipe. Essentially it does all of the hard work for you.

A lot of radio stations and the podcast network that I am the Director of Podcasts for - Mamamia have a voicemail system set up. Essentially the development team have set up a magical number that people can call and as soon as they leave a message we get an email directly into our inbox with the audio file attached. You can get the same service with speak pipe and essentially the people that want to contact you and leave a message can get their voice on your podcast. All they have to do is click a button, record their audio and that's it. There are a range of different plans and you can check them all out at the Speakpipe website, I'll pop a link on the show notes page at PodSchoolPodcast.com and type "callers" into the search bar.

With those different plans you'll get different features. So on some you'll be immediately emailed the audio of the call whereas on the free plan you might have to go in and access the audio files and download them yourself (I think we can all handle that).

The great thing about this system is that it takes all of the fuss out of it and basically allows your audience a way to get their voice on your show. It's also great for "audio texture," which is a wanky way of saying "different bits of audio" so it's not just you talking all the time.

So how does it work? Basically you either set up a web page on Speakpipe or you can install a button on your website. When your audience comes to that page or they click a button on your website there is an option for them to record a message right then and there so they can record using whatever microphone they have available and attached to the computer or the device that they're using and they just record a message right there and it gets sent to a central hub or straight to your email depending what plan you've got. Then you also not only can download the audio to use on your show but you can record a message and send it back and they'll get an email saying you've replied to their message. That can be a really lovely way to say thanks for sending me a message.

If you haven't thought about this as an option and you're thinking "Why the heck would I be bothered getting people on my show?" Here's a couple of reasons apart from the ones that I stated earlier which are of course that it just gives a bit of audio texture.

Your listeners can be the best source of content...ever.

You will notice if you are a regular listener to this show that often the content in these episodes comes from questions that have been asked directly to me from people just like you who are listening to this show and want to know more about podcasting. A really great way to reward those people for dropping in their questions and asking you things is to actually have them featured on the show. Some people don't want that and they just want to send an email and they don't want to put their voice on the show for other people but if they do call you and leave a message it can be a great way for them to feel rewarded for taking the time to get in touch with you.

You might be listening to this and thinking there's no space for this in my show, I don't have the time nor the inclination nor do I have any questions that I want to ask my audience and that's fine.

You don't have to add people into your show but often with podcasting people assume it can't be done so if you've completely blanked it out of your mind as an option because you thought it wasn't possible, now you know it is!

I'll put all the details on the show notes page which again you can find at PodSchoolPodcast.com just by typing "callers" into the search bar. And that's it for today's episode I hope that's helped you realise you can add more voices into your show from the people who love it the most. Speaking of which if you're enjoying these episodes I would very much enjoy it if you would leave me your review in iTunes or wherever you listen to the show. It helps other people to find the episodes and to also realise that they're not a pile of crap when they see them.

If you are just starting out your podcast and you want to set up your home studio and you're not sure how to do it you'll find all of that information in my "How to start a podcast guide" that you'll find at my website as well. Thanks so much for joining me, I'll see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!