After I had been studying English for a few years I realised that I needed something to improve my spoken English. At that time I already listened to LBC radio – a British talk-radio (LBaC stands for Leading Britain’s Conversation). For those who don’t know, ‘talk-radio’ means that their primary purpose is not playing music but rather to discuss with their listeners different issues. Basically, every show on such radio goes like this: a presenter raises an issue, say, the recent visit of the US president Donald Trump to the UK, and every listener who wants to share his/her opinion on the issue may call in to the radio and discuss the issue with the presenter (sometimes with another listener as well).
One day I thought that this could be a good way to improve my spoken English, and about a half a year ago I plucked up the courage and actually did it… I called in last November and spoke to Ian Dale you can listen below, and… it was much easier than I had thought it would be. So, I have decided to share my experience with you and to give you a couple of hints in case you want to follow suit.
1. Find the contact number
First of all, you need to find a phone number to call. On the LBC website you can find the phone number, it is 03456060973, but the problem is that it is correct only for those who call from inside the UK. For the rest of the listeners the number you need to dial is +443456060973.
2. Choose who to call
Issue number two is the presenter you are going to call. Please do not think it does not matter. It does. If you make a mistake at this point the very first call to LBC could be your last one because some of the LBC presenters are friendly, but some of them are not and often it depends on what issue are you going to discuss with them and which side of the ‘barricade’ you are on. Some presenters could be very tough and even bully you if you express the opposite opinion to them. Sometimes a real war happens between a presenter and his/her listeners and I often think it is good that they do not meet each other. That is why my strong recommendation is to listen to different LBC presenters for a few weeks so that you can understand what their political agenda is. In my next blog post I’ll share my thoughts on the presenters to help you choose.
3. Choose how to call
Another important point is to choose how you will call so that it doesn’t cost you a lot of money. I use an IP phone for calling LBC so it costs me about 1 p. per minute and if the radio show calls you back it is completely free.
4. Think of an interesting point and call in
Of course, you need to think of something interesting to say, otherwise you won’t make it through to speak live on air. When you call in you reach a call-centre (the line is always free), a call-centre agent will answer and take your name and ask what you want to tell the presenter. You will only get a call-back if the call-centre agent finds your point interesting, otherwise, your point wasn’t interesting enough.
5. Record your call
If the show calls you back, they’ll ask you to wait until your turn (it could be 2 min. but it could be 20-30 min.). In any case, you have time to turn on recording on your phone – if you want to share your conversation with your friends later.
6. Live on Air
After being called back and waiting some time next, you will be on air. The presenter says ‘Hello’ and you can say ‘Hello’, ‘How are you?’ and ‘Thanks for taking my call’. It is also fine to say that you are a first-time caller. Then of course you may say whatever you want and the presenter may ask you some questions. Now’s your time to practise your English speaking and to share your views!
It’s important to note that after your first call they put your name and phone number in their data base so when you call them next time don’t be surprised when they say ‘Hello [your name]’.
I hope this is helpful for you – stay tuned for my next blog!