Talk radio fans are familiar with the expression “seminar caller.” Here’s what I wrote about the phenomenon last year at NewsReal:
Rush Limbaugh coined the word “seminar callers” to describe people like this, because leftists used to train would-be talk radio callers in special seminars. These trained callers learn to begin by saying, “I listen to your show all the time, and normally I agree with you/I’m a lifelong Republican/but…” then recite memorized liberal talking points. (Here’s an IndyMedia how-to.)
The tactic is perfect for leftists because it’s parasitical — and, sadly, it’s the closest thing they’ve ever had to liberal talk radio…
It’s just another form of astroturfing, and it stopped working years ago.
All big time talk radio shows have peerless call screeners who usually detect these frauds before they get on the air. If these astroturfers do get through, a smart host can make them look pretty foolish, pretty fast.
The new “On the Air” campaign quite innocently carries within it the seeds of its own demise. Being emotional, unscientific leftists, the organizers are convinced that anecdotal evidence trumps every other kind, so Organizing for America specifically advised callers to tell conservative talk show hosts about their own supposedly harrowing personal experiences with America’s “broken” health care system, and those “evil” insurance companies.
Trouble is: those talk show hosts had just spent the last 24 hours gleefully mocking those “heartrending” (and highly suspect) anecdotes Democrats had shared at the Blair House meeting. Mark Steyn coined the phrase “second hand dentures” on the Hugh Hewitt show, and Glenn Beck & crew improvised a bit that became an instant radio classic.
And like people who don’t think anybody can see them picking their nose if they do it in the car, the DNC is seemingly ignorant of the fact that other people can read what they write on the internet.
So now, there’s a new thing called Premiere On Call:
Some of the people who phone in to talk radio shows (that caller with the pitch-perfect rant, provocative comment or burning question) may actually be actors hired by Premiere On Call reading from scripts. Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers Magazine said he knew nothing of this particular service but was not altogether surprised to hear that it was in place.
“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” – Rachel Nelson, a Premiere Radio Networks spokesperson, defended the Premiere on Call service and said that responsibility for how it is employed falls ultimately to those who use it.”
This afternoon, Rush Limbaugh commented about Premiere On Call on his show. He relates his long-ago adventures as a proto “Crank Yanker.” Rush says he’s looked into this and the paid “callers” are being hired by morning zoo shock jocks, not conservative talk radio shows.