Thank you for taking my call? Why?
July 18, 2005 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Why do so many people say "Thank you for taking my call" when phoning radio talk shows?
posted by crosten to Media & Arts (16 answers total)
Because they have been anxiously waiting on hold for a long time and are relieved to be able to speak?
posted by omnidrew at 2:44 PM on July 18, 2005

Because there are screeners whose job it is to keep most calls from getting through, and the caller is grateful that his/her call got picked to actually happen.
posted by bingo at 2:45 PM on July 18, 2005

Exclusivity breeds sycophantry. Not everyone who calls gets on-air.
posted by Rothko at 2:45 PM on July 18, 2005

I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but I guess it's because most callers aren't selected to speak on the air. After being screened and waiting on hold in a queue, the luck few who are selected are grateful for being given a chance to talk.
posted by mbrubeck at 2:46 PM on July 18, 2005

They also always say "first-time caller, long-time listener" which...who cares?
posted by GaelFC at 2:46 PM on July 18, 2005

Thank you for reading my answer.

I once discussed this with someone. Our best theory is that it's just a habit that crosses people. Most people don't phone in to radio shows all that often, so they take their cues on what to say from what they hear other people say before them. Somewhere along the line, a few people started, and it spread from there.

Our other theory was that it may have started with a movie or TV show about a call in show, but after we'd determined that it predated Frasier and the movie with Dolly Parton, we gave up.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:47 PM on July 18, 2005

Because they're trying to remember what exactly it is that they wanted to say, and they're a little flustered at being on the radio, so they buy some time by saying something fluffy. And dumb.
posted by Specklet at 3:17 PM on July 18, 2005

also, if they're one of those people who just love to hear themselves talk, it gets them an extra few seconds of air-time. :)
posted by clarahamster at 3:42 PM on July 18, 2005

Um, maybe they're just polite? What's so strange about thanking someone for giving you the opportunity you wanted?
posted by languagehat at 3:55 PM on July 18, 2005

By saying something simple, usually a small compliment, it gives the callers a verbal confirmation that they are no longer on hold and are indeed on air. A savvy host will directly ask the caller what their question or comment is and begin the conversation as opposed to just saying "let's go to Bill from Newport" and allowing the caller to fuddle around without moving the show forward.
posted by Arch Stanton at 3:56 PM on July 18, 2005

Conversational opener - the host or interviewee usually responds with "Thank you for calling, (listener)".

Sort of like "How are you?" - "I'm fine, how are you?" - "I'm fine."
Or "Good morning." - "Good morning. Nice day, isn't it?" - "It sure is."

Nothing important conveyed, just politely opening the conversation. Some people would be offended, or feel they were being offensive, if one would jump right into what they were going to say without the polite opener. Of course, other people are aggravated by what they see as wasted/small talk.
posted by Melinika at 3:57 PM on July 18, 2005

Why is politeness so abhorrent? And yes, it to buy a moment to get one's composure. And no, I didn't learn this from Rush.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:07 PM on July 18, 2005

This guy does it so he can put it on his web site.
posted by wsg at 4:10 PM on July 18, 2005

Best answer: I can tell you, it was abhorrent to me in my time working on talk radio shows. (I was producer and call-screener for shows with hosts including Howie Long, as a kid.)

People do it because it's one of the rare times in their life when they've been on-air. They really are grateful that their call has been taken. On the other hand, you have the host, who does this every freaking day/week, who really doesn't have the broadcast time for everybody who wants to thank them, ask them how they're doing, check up on the kids, etc. That really adds up over the course of a broadcast. Imagine you're a ticket-taker at a venue, admitting a few thousand people each night. And every bloody one of them wants to have a little conversation with you. Not only is it annoying, but it really, really adds up.

The solution is for call screeners, among the other instructions ("turn down your radio," "keep your question brief," etc.), is to say "don't say 'thanks for taking my call.'" On shows where people continue to say "thanks" -- and I cringe every time I hear it -- I can only conclude that the host doesn't mind, or else the screeners would tell people to knock it off.
posted by waldo at 4:54 PM on July 18, 2005

Best answer: To piggy back on what waldo said -- I used to work in radio, and during my shift there was a call-in show, so I'd hear the call screeners (as well as the show), as they were just a little ways from me, and it was always funny, because it would always go:
Call Screener: OK, thanks, we'll put you on, and don't ask [Foo] how he's doing or thank him, just get right to your point.
Host: OK, we've got Bob from Atlanta, whaddya wanna say, Bob?
Bob: Hi, [Foo], how're you doing? Thanks for putting me on!
Call Screener: GODDAMMIT! (Well, they wouldn't always say that, but you could frequently hear them cursing that the caller always said that.)

My guess is that it's just an ingrained response -- I know that in situations like being on the phone, I tend to go on autopilot, and, I assume it's the same sort of thing. The caller just thinks "I'm on the telephone. When people are on the telephone, when the other person picks up, they ask 'how are you doing?', so therefore when this person picks up, I'll say 'how are you doing?'" Which, you know, is fine when you're calling a friend or a store clerk or something, but not so much when you're on the radio.

But yeah -- frequently the screeners ARE telling them to knock it off, they just don't.

And, yeah, depending on the show, it takes many attempts to get through or get through the screener (with some shows, there'd be like, 12 phone lines, and when I'd be in there, the phone lines would be jammed. Even if the show was off-air, at least half the phone lines would be full trying to get through). So, I think part of it is just being grateful.

On one hand, it IS nice that people are polite enough to thank folks for doing something nice for them, but on the other hand, it does get a little annoying hearing the radio host tell people that he's fine every 2 minutes.

As for the whole "first time caller..." thing -- I guess it's just an attempt to establish a rapport ("I know who you are! We should be friends!") with the host or provide legitimacy ("See, Host, you should listen to what I have to say and agree with me, because I listen to you all the time, even if you don't recognise my voice like some of your regulars!") with the host, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's at least a small chunk of the "Man, I've always wanted to say that!" syndrome as well. (I think you actually get a few people who will add that after saying "First time caller...", once in a while.)

But, yeah -- it's too bad people don't listen to the call-screeners. They're there to help. When that show was going on, I'd constantly hear the type of caller that's: "Well, like, OK, I was talkin' to my friend Bill, and we got into a big conversation because he lost his job and was having trouble making ends meet and everything and I thought that it'd be cool if they just printed up some more money and stuff, and Bill said that he thought that probably wouldn't work, but I told him that if they printed up more money then he'd probably get some and then maybe he could buy a round once, ha ha, see what I'm sayin', so anyway, though, Host, whaddyathink of that plan? By the way, first time caller, long time listener, and howyadoin', and I just wanted to thank you for taking my call! [sqqqqeuuuuuaaakkkkkk]"
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 5:25 PM on July 18, 2005

That was a fascinating answer that says a lot about human nature, Rev. Syung Myung Me -- thanks for posting it!
posted by languagehat at 10:01 AM on July 19, 2005

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