What makes the phone lines ring?
"Good morning! You're on the air!"
And this morning people wanted to talk.
Two words: the weather. (Said with derision.)
Trying to come with a few topics to fill a couple of hours open-line talk radio is always a gamble. The longer I do this, I'm learning the weather can better the odds.
People enjoy talking about the weather.
I was prompted to roll the dice on the weather today after waking up to snow, rain, freezing rain, cancelled school buses, storm warnings and special weather statements. As I write, the wind is howling, snow is blowing, there's a police scanner squawking in the background and it sounds like it's going to be a long night for the hydro crews.
The weather arrived in November. It's April and I've had my fill.
"Is the weather different now than when you were younger?" I asked.
The progressive forces tell us the weather is more extreme and severe weather is the new normal. (But relief can be yours, just pay a carbon tax!) Is winter warmer? The ski season shorter shorter? Do you bother with a backyard hockey rink anymore?
Opinion on the weather varied. Most callers to the program thought today's awful weather is the weather we've always had. But there was a lot of opinion. Flooded phone lines, stacks of email and some action on Twitter.
It's not always that way.
A few weeks ago, anything to do with Doug Ford, the PC soap opera and the Ontario election was a sure-fire call getter. Not so much now. I suspect people are in a holding pattern, waiting to see what Ford plans to pitch to voters.
Anything to do with the state of the city's roads, especially potholes, usually prompts huge reaction. But the inner workings of a council meeting, the performance of the Mayor, general interest in municipal politics can be a boring dud. That could change later in the year, with an election this fall.
A rare exception is bike lanes. Two wheels versus four. The burbs versus the downtown. It's going to be a topic on my show tomorrow, since it appears we're getting even more bike lanes in the core.
Recent interest in the pot debate has waned, unless there's a strong news hook. The audience seems to have tired of the same old good idea/bad idea divide. That being said, I predict renewed interest with 4/20 approaching.
There are many topics I take an interest in discussing and spend quite some time on (sometimes way too much time), only because I think they're important. These include public education and school boards, the minimum wage, social welfare programs and those darn millennials. They just don't get the phones ringing like potholes.
Finally, odd as it may be, there is one topic in this city that will always get people riled up. And that's amalgamation. Even though it's something that happened almost two decades ago, people still don't like it and they will still call a radio station and to let people know. I haven't raised it in years, but it's always there, like a talk radio wildcard.
That's what makes the job fun.
HERE IS TODAY'S PREP: