It seems that nowadays whenever you turn on the radio there is a phone in happening with people expressing many sides of the subject of the day.
The very first phone in was in 1967 at BBC Radio Leicester which was the first local radio station to broadcast. The producer of the gardening program thought that it would be a good idea if listeners could ask direct questions of the expert gardener.
It was then decided that this way was a good way to allow the general public had access to express their own views to anyone who was listening. A further advantage is that they also have access to talk to people like politicians, sports stars, film stars and other public figures who they would not normally be able to have a conversation with.
As far as the radio station is concerned it makes good sense that the listeners feel more as though it is their station when they can chat and gossip with other people just like they would with their neighbours over the garden wall.
While being very useful for the listeners, the radio station itself also benefits a great deal from phone ins. Many a program has been produced on a subject which first saw the light of day on a phone in program. One I used to listen to regularly was a consumer program and they often followed the problems up in other programs and get the companies to change their policies.
The same is true of the news desk, they regularly create news based on a phone in. They are relatively cheap to broadcast and the cast is the listeners.
Having said that, possibly the most important person is the presenter who has to be seen to be independent at all times, keep the conversation flowing, stop people talking over each other but most of all has to constantly be aware of speakers who may go over the line in their comments. The last thing that the radio station wants is to be closed down because someone has made a defamatory comment.
Phone ins have been around a long time now and will be around for a good while yet. They have become an important part of broadcasting.