Guidelines for Radio Phone-in Da’wah

By Fatima Barkatulla (www.muslimmotherhood.blogspot.com)

Radio phone-ins if utilised correctly are an excellent tool for conveying the beauty of Islam and for dispelling fears and misconceptions that many non-Muslims have about Islam and Muslims. One can reach millions of people through radio phone-ins and can tell them something that could stay with them forever.

Phone-ins are particularly good for Muslim women as they allow you to phone in from wherever you are, you could be a busy mum or driving your car somewhere but you can always stop off for a short bit of da’wah and literally reach millions. Often topics arise that are about Muslim women specifically (like the niqab, or jilbab) and many people speak for us and about us and many misrepresent us. So it is imperative that we enter the discussion and inform people about our position. Most presenters really appreciate Muslim women calling up, as it is a voice they don’t often get to hear.

Radio show audiences reach in the millions because phone-in shows that cover the hot topics of the day are often at peak times like during rush hour in the morning and on the drive home from work in the afternoon. If you phone a national radio station the audience is larger still.

Your potential audience

Your potential audience are:

Parents on the school run
People driving to work
Taxi drivers, truck drivers, couriers (all sorts of people who drive for a living).
People who are at home, like mothers, housewives, the elderly, people who work from home.
Many people download radio shows onto their MP3 players and listen to the show later while on the train or elsewhere.
People listening around the world through the internet. (Expatriates for example).

What happens when you phone in?

When you phone in to a show, the producer or researcher for the show will pick up the phone and ask you what your name is and where you are calling from. You can always use an anonymous name or a middle name that you are not known to many people by, like: Umm X, If you feel more comfortable doing that.

Then they will ask you what you want to talk about and you have to briefly tell them what you will say.

They may take down your phone number and say that they will call you back.
When they call you back, they will put you on hold and you will be able to hear the radio from your phone receiver. Turn your radio down or off so that the presenter has no problem hearing you and to prevent feedback.

When it is your turn to speak, the presenter will simply say your name and say ‘hello’ to you and you’ll be heard by everyone listening. They will probably allow you a few minutes unless they really want to continue talking to you, so you have to get to the point. The presenter will know roughly what you are going to talk about because it will be up on their screen in front of them. They will expect you to talk about the subject you said you will talk about.

Sometimes if your point is not very relevant or if they are tight for time, they may not call you back, so try to be as relevant as possible and also try to phone in at least before the last half hour of the show.

If you tell the presenter that you are a first time caller, they are usually more patient with you.

General tips for Radio phone-ins:

· Don’t phone-in to vent your anger about what has been said. Only phone in when you feel you will be calm and measured in your tone. Presenters do not appreciate people raising their voices too much and ranting or insulting people. You will very soon be cut off if you do that. Let people hear your calm and intelligent side. People will see you as a representative of Islam. That doesn’t mean you cannot be passionate about a topic, it just means you have to have good manners.

· Be clear in your own mind what you want to convey and stick to the most important message or you could get sidetracked and then they might cut you off before you get to your main point.

· Jot down some of the main points you want to make and stick to them. Try not to get too distracted by comments that are made by listeners while you are on hold.

· Start off in a positive manner, say something good about the show and mention the presenters name when you speak to them as it has been observed that when a person hears their own name, they relax more and are more attentive.

· Be conversational, not preachy. Speak to the presenter as an individual and be as amicable as you can.

· Acknowledge mistakes that Muslims make and show people that Muslims don’t always do what Islam tells them to.

· Break the argument down and make sure everyone can follow your train of thought.

· Analyse what the issue is and address it step by step.

· You may not be able to cover everything you want to but at least make one good contribution. In sha Allah someone else will build on your contribution.

· If you can phone in regularly, people will get to know you and so be consistent in your good character and points. Don’t just phone in when Islam or Muslims are mentioned. Phone in to talk about any issue you can, because after all, Islam has the solutions to all problems. After becoming a regular caller you don’t even have to mention Islam because people will remember you as the Muslim anyway. It will also make people appreciate that Muslims can contribute to many areas of life.

· Listen to presenters a few times before you phone in, to see what kind of views they have and how they deal with different people. Some can be quite aggressive and anti-religion (like Nick Ferrari, James O’Brien & James Whale). Some can be easier to talk to (like the BBC presenters: Vanessa Feltz, Jumoke Fashola, Eddie Nestor & Kath Milandri)

· Listen to other callers who call in & make a point well. Learn from them & from other people in Da’wah.

· Sometimes you have to accept that you may not be the best person to talk about a particular issue. Perhaps you could call someone you know would be able to contribute and ask them to do so.

· Some popular stations you could call (see websites for latest schedule):
BBC Radio London 94.9fm (http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/tv_and_radio/radio/): Morning phone-in with Vanessa Feltz, Drive-time in the afternoons with Eddie Nestor & Kath Melandri, Jumoke Fashola’s show after 10pm (please check websites because schedules and presenters do change)

Talksport 1089am (http://www.talksport.net/): If you don’t ask them to call you back, they usually put you on hold when you phone them, so you have to foot the bill. But if you tell them quickly when you initially phone in, they will call you back. Good shows to phone in to are the morning phone-in with Jon Gaunt, George Galloway’s show on the weekends, James Whale’s show late at night etc.

LBC 97.3fm (http://www.lbc.co.uk/): Presenters are more sensationalist (like when Nick Ferrari asked me if I cover myself because I think all men are lusting after me, or James O’Brien when he said, “Well at least my way of life means that men and women are totally equal” and then pressed the dump button. (Coward!)), so have your answers prepared. They often don’t give you very long to make your point. Nick Ferrari’s show is in the morning, and there are other shows one could contribute to at any time in the day, depending on the topic of discussion. ◊

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