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Monday Memo: “Today’s Bonus Question…”

| March 4, 2019

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Smart talk radio hosts have always kept an evergreen file, undated call-in topics for use, y’know, back when we had slow news days.

Back to the future: With willing media content to take dictation from President Donald Trump there are no slow news days. But there is evidence of Trump Fatigue. So I’m impressed with results of a technique hosts I work with use to stay fresh and pull calls:

Along with topic du jour, float a “Bonus Question.”

Something apolitical, undated, and (dare we?) fun.

Doing so gives listeners two reasons to call, and you may be surprised which topic the caller brings up first.

Examples I’ve heard light-up the lines:

  • “Dating co-workers” (Every workplace has one poorly-kept secret.) *
  • “Your biggest gripe about where you work?” *
  • “Why do people cheat (on their spouse)?”
  • “You get to meet God, and you get ONE question.”
  • “The most embarrassing thing you’ve ever witnessed?”
  • “What is the one thing about your spouse you would change?” *
  • “What is the last ‘little white lie’ you told?” *
  • “What happened the last time you said ‘There but for the grace of God…?’”
  • “Talking your way out of traffic tickets”
  • “Who are your kids’ heroes?”
  • “Which of the Ten Commandments are outdated? Or, which 11th Commandment do we need?”
  • “Your least favorite song?” (An alert producer can quickly search YouTube and play a portion.)

* For several of the above, offer callers “diplomatic immunity,” by suggesting they NOT use their real name.  OR – if you can do so – and if you can, it’s a very cool effect – electronically disguise callers’ voices, a la “60 Minutes.” 😉

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet; he is the author of the meaty“Holland Cooke Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books; and he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show on RT America.  Read HC’s Monday Memo each week at, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice