Premiere Radio Network has quietly introduced a new syndicated radio service that allegedly uses paid actors to call into radio shows, work from a script or scenario and “pretend” to be real callers. Premiere describes its “On Call” service as an “audio service connecting local entertainment radio stations with great voice talent to supplement their programming needs.” In short, faked phone bits. If the mere thought of that is not enough, a controversy is brewing as to whether Premiere talkers Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck are using the service to prime the pumps on their shows. Premiere says the service is not utilized by News/Talk programs or stations.
Rush Limbaugh used his program yesterday to defend himself against charges that he uses the service while blaming the FCC for creating a climate that would necessitate the need for such a service by requiring radio stations to notify callers they were being recorded.
While Premiere has denied that News and Talk stations are taking advantage of the product, what is hopefully not being lost in the conversation is the fact that something like this exists. Radio stations have been staging phone calls for years to up the entertainment value, but to have a legitimate service, created by a company for its stations that blurs the line between what is perceived to be real and what is contrived is downright scary.
“Who Can You Trust” is now much more than the title of an old game show.
Premiere has removed all information pertaining to “On Call” from it’s website.