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by Clare McCann - Spice Jock

A good time to call a radio station and ask to be put on the air is either during a chart countdown, a continuous music sweep, or slap bang in the middle of a news bulletin. When you are told you can't go on air, act surprised.

In preparation for your on-air performance, gather several friends close to the phone and make sure that they shout loudly each time you are asked a question, rendering you incapable of answering anything first time.

When you are put on-air, greet the DJ by name...preferably someone else's.

Start the conversation by saying that you phoned three months ago. If the DJ fails to recognize you, add other pointers such as the song you requested or the friend you had with you at the time. Continue to do so until the DJ sounds wholly convinced that he or she knows you.

If you phone a DJ at the beginning of their program, remember to say you've been listening to them for "the last couple of hours," particularly if the program before them was wildly different or presented by someone of the opposite sex

With weekend DJ's, it is important to mention that you listen to them "every night," even though this is clearly not possible.

When asked where you are calling from, be as localized as possible, stating either your road name or the room which you are in. One word replies like "work" or "home" are good, too.

Alternatively if you are calling a local radio station and you are asked where you are phoning from, be as general as possible, encompassing the whole of that station's broadcast area or the county you are in.

When you are asked what you've been doing all day, a nice, brief reply like "nothing much, just listening to the radio" won't make you sound sad, lonely or boring.

Remember, if it is possible to answer a question with either a yes or no, do so.

Always state the song you want, clearly and precisely, but using a slightly different title. For instance, if you phone to hear "BodyShakin,'" ask for "BodyPumpin.'"

If the artist you are requesting has moved into music from acting, proudly request the song by using the name of their character and the last program they appeared in, e.g., "that one by Beth from NEIGHBORS."

If possible, request the song that has just been played or is actually on the air as you phone. Act surprised and wounded when you are told it's already been on.

If you're phoning for a dedication for your partner, try to speak in cliches. Say "I love her more than words can say" or "he's made the last few months the happiest of my life."

If you have a conversation off-air about which songs you can't have, make sure you relay this to the DJ again once you are on-air. When they ask what you'd like to hear, reply along the lines of, "Well, I was going to ask for Elvis Costello, but you said I couldn't have it."

Make sure you ask the jock what happened to a DJ that was on the station several years ago, particularly if the departure was connected to some kind of scandal.

Remember it is your right to say "Hi" to your friends. Respond unenthusiastically to anything the DJ asks until he allows you to mention your "boyfriend Jack and best friend Me-Shell."

If you can, make sure you fit into your list at least one friend who lives 30 miles or more away from the outer broadcast area. "Hello to Katy, she's in Inverness" should do it.

If you are a caller under the age of 12, remember that saying hello to your friends also includes your pets, every member of your extended family, and any pop idols who may be listening.

If you win a contest, your response must be in inverse proportion to the size of the prize. For example, if you win a Mercedes SLK, a simple "Yeah, that's really great" will suffice. But if you win a CD worth £ 12, start hyperventilating and shout, "Oh my God, I can't believe I've won!" Declarations of undying love to the DJ are also appropriate here.

A great line to add just as the DJ appears to be wrapping up the conversation is, "Can I just say one more thing?" Wait at least five seconds before following it up, allowing the DJ to panic a little about what is coming. Finish with something completely out of character from the rest of the call, like, "Just want to say to my pal Dave that I know things have been tough for you since your mother died, but I'm always here for you."

There is no real point in talking to the DJ before he starts your song, so try to cram everything you want to say into the 30 seconds or so between the song starting and the vocals coming in; treat it like one of those games where you have to say as much as possible before the clock runs out. Listing things is fun here. If you've already said "Hi" to your friends, try listing all the DJs past and present that you would like a signed photo of or alternatively use this time to enquire about why you haven't received the CD you won on a contest last April.

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