Tablet Magazine recently published a revealing report exposing the "real people" that call into radio shows. According to Tablet, those real people aren't real at all. Instead, they're paid actors. Hired guns. Fake. I knew those amazing stories that spur great conversation and make for awesome programming was too good to be true.
It's all part of a larger conspiracy and starts with a company called Premiere on Call (owned by Clear Channel Communications which syndicates the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck) who auditions and develops these actors to phone into radio shows. The actors receive scripts to repeat on air, sign confidentiality agreements to never disclose information, and always pretend to be real people. Not too bad for $40 an hour. Here's how Premiere On Call describes their services on their now-defunct website:
Premiere On Call is our new custom caller service. We supply voice talent to take/make your on-air calls, improvise your scenes or deliver your scripts. Using our simple online booking tool, specify the kind of voice you need, and we'll get your the right person fast. Unless you request it, you won't hear that same voice again for at least two months, ensuring the authenticity of your programming for avid listeners."
And I'm not entirely surprised, some of the phone calls I've overheard on radio shows have been so ridiculous that there was no way it was real. The cynic in me has grown over the years to think that, well, no one in the entertainment industry is really real anymore. Callers too often push the radio show's agenda, hosts rarely express doubt, it's all too convenient.