Radio station contest lines

When you call a radio station’s contest line and they are looking for a specific number caller, what exactly do the non-winning callers hear?

Does someone pick up the line and say, “Not!”



Depends on the station, I would imagine. I got a “please try again” once.

In my experience, you either get a busy signal or a “sorry you’re not caller , try again”

It depends on the station. In my experience, the contest lines were always answered by a live person, but that person could be the on-air personality, a producer, or an intern. I was the wrong caller many times. In those cases I was told that I was the wrong caller and was disconnected. Since it was a live person, what they said before hanging up varied. Usually it was something like “You’re caller 7, try again.”

I did win twice. The first time I won, the host of the show answered the call, bantered with me for a bit, and then transferred me to an intern who told me how to collect my prize (Prince’s entire catalog on CD, up until Batman - it was 1989). I wasn’t on the air live, however. It was recorded and they played it a few minutes later.

The second time I won, the phone was answered by an intern who asked me to hold but didn’t tell me that I was the correct caller. After a few minutes I was on the air live and they told me that I won. Then the intern came back on the line and told me how to collect the prize (concert tickets).

The reason I ask, is that my wife wanted to try calling in to one of those ongoing contests where you can win several times a day at specific times for multiple days. The times meshed nicely with her commute. So she calls (cell phone) and the line immediately drops. She repeated this several times and every time it immediately dropped – no busy signal, no indication the call had actually gone through, no message, nada. She was carrying her work cell phone and began to wonder if the company had the local radio lines restricted under their cell agreement. But then this morning I decide to try calling in to a different station, on my personal cell and have the same experience, immediate drops, over multiple tries.

This got me wondering if the technology had changed and the drop was an automated call counter of some sort.

Try calling them on a norrmal phone and you’ll then find out if the stations just silently drop the wrong callers, or if your cell carrier doesn’t play will with radio call-in contests.

Makes me wonder how successful driving a small multiline VOIP system that auto connects to your headset if the line picks up. Each of 10 lines dials same number inceasing the probability of being “caller 9”

I was a DJ for a group of radio stations in a small town. Whenever I ran contests looking for, say, the 7th caller, I would answer every call with “(Radio station image), you’re caller number (whatever). Try again!”. I would then immediately hang up, in order to let others call in.

Oh, and another trick that is sometimes used, especially if the contest isn’t attracting as much attention as desired, is to inflate the call count when answering. Sometimes, I would skip every other number, e.g., I would go 1-3-5-7, so it would only take 3 callers instead of 7 to get a winner. The reason I did this is that I usually announced the contest, played 1 song, and then announced the winner. On pop stations, the average song length, if I recall, is about 3:40, so I needed to get a winner soon after announcing the contest. This is especially true if I planned on recording the call (we didn’t have a delay in case someone’s language got salty) to play when announcing the winner.

That makes me wonder if I really was caller 95 when I won those Rush tickets at about 1am in 1991. Maybe the DJ just was sick of answering phones and decided, “The next call gets it. What does he know?”

I’ll see if I can be in a position to try this today. Who knows, I might win :wink:

I was taught to answer “You’re number 1” and so forth.

Okay, I didn’t win. :frowning:

But the results from a land line were a couple of busy signals maybe 10-20% of the tries, the rest of the attempts resulted in a phone company message “all circuits are busy.”

Perhaps the cell carrier’s protocall is to drop when all the circuits are busy versus playing a message stating that fact?

Calling the main phone of the station should just get you to the receptionist. When I worked in radio, we couldn’t transfer to the contest line - but at least we could make sure you had the correct number.

If you have to be a higher number, it could be on an automated counting system. But usually it’s just the DJ or an intern and how they answers depends on their style and the station’s protocol.

I agree with this, everytime I called I got this exact message

It’s not like these are regulated.

DJs are expected to follow their claim and when they ask for caller 9 they usually take caller 9.

But, it’s a multi-line phone. They’ve got five blinking lights and can push them in any order. If it’s a male DJ, they’ll almost always pick a female name fore caller 9 (Caller ID + Individual phones mean that the Caller ID will frequently identify gender of caller accurately)

I know, before we had a TV, we were regular callers to a local station. We’d call in, and they’d say “Sorry you’re caller 3.”

We’d say “Hey Joe, its me.” (Before everyone had Caller ID.)

“Oh, Hi, Pan, hold on…” We’d get put on hold, a few seconds later we’d hear “Congratulations, you’re caller #9.”

Usually we’d get movie tickets or CDs. Once we got tickets to the Moody Blues.

You can tell how old I am now :). Last time I called in, I came >< close to winning Pink Tickets…“hi You’re caller#9” - my response “I can’t remember who I was calling, I must have a wrong number…” D’oh.

The phone system may be so overloaded that it’s just a random thing as to whether or not you get through at all.

One of the reasons they do the Nth caller thing is to spread the load on the phone system. It’s probably not such a problem today but I remember back in Auckland, NZ in the 70s some of the popular games would pretty much crash the central Auckland phone system for about 15 minutes. It made the news a few times. I remember getting an overload signal after dialing the first digit. These were the days of rotary phones and mechanical exchanges. Later I think all the radio station numbers were moved into their own sub system or something because they all had the same first few digits regardless of where their studios were.