Gawker is reporting
claims from an anonymous "prominent", "veteran" radio producer that Glenn Beck has in fact planted callers on his show, including recurring characters, during his days as a wacky morning show host. This comes one day after we were bad-mouthed for reporting online speculation that talk hosts may have done this.
The source also describes Ryan Seacrest and others use actors regularly in prank call bits. One online oped
is suggesting Limbaugh's denial as worded may be deceptive, not necessarily using Premiere On Call but still mistrusted because of his track record. Premiere's own statement read:
"Premiere On Call is not utilized by any of Premiere's nationally syndicated talent, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck...Premiere On Call is a recently launched audio service connecting local entertainment radio stations with great voice talent to supplement their programming needs. The service is not utilized by News/Talk programs or stations."
But there is a different Premiere service which does sell a service named "inspired callers" to News/Talk shows, listing the same contact person.
announced a service which promotes Premiere Radio Networks "Production Vault" service, specifically for News/Talk clients, when they recently said
the service "is not utilized by News/Talk programs or stations" and which we reported here
Maybe those in the know can educate the rest of us. What does Production Vault News/Talk mean by an "ingenious array" of "inspired callers", "intelligent listener clips" and "actualities from leading news stories" - I freely admit not knowing these industry terms, but "inspired callers" being offered for sale sounds like it could be a service they just denied "On Call" offered to News/Talk clients [or not - see updated explanation below].
We're just asking here, not accusing anything - but the web page for "Premiere On Call" gives only one name as a contact for the service, Tanya Juhasz. The same employee is also listed as a contact for the Ryan Seacrest syndicated show who the Gawker story named as a user of planted calls, as well as a contact for fiery conservative political talk host Bill Cunningham, Dr. Dean Edell, a medical talk show, a legal advice show called Handel On The Law
, as well as various wacky morning shows.
As Gawker's John Cook notes for the first time, one call featured a "news story" with a fake "aviation expert" talking about a local plane crash, the remorseful actor claimed he was coached to say these things are routine. I wonder why anyone would pay an actor to fool the public into thinking plane crashes were routine (I seriously hope that was not Mike Connell's plane).
It might be less confusing if Ms. Juhasz' bosses take steps to counter any perception that her duties as the contact listed for planted call sales may be crossing over into any of these other program areas.
Separately, left wing host Ed Schultz stated he thought it was rampant that conservative talk shows stage calls, quipping "it ain't real" and chuckling "they're walking you like a dog" as he admitted
staging calls in the earliest days of his show. Schultz also revealed he knew of Congressional offices who trained interns to call radio programs with slice-of-life calls that forge liberal narratives.
In saying the prominent conservative talk hosts do stage calls, he says, Ed urges "you make the call" telling us to simply listen to the shows and compare them to real conversations.
Another radio host described
staged call services "for the small guy", naming Prep Services who had a stable of "characters" available for calls, adding "Premiere On Call is the exact same thing. It's a stable of characters and topic driven calls for small and medium market personalities to be able to drive calls and listeners. That's all it is, despite any of the screaming you're going to hear about it by folks who really want to make believe otherwise."
Update: A Premiere spokesperson emailed to explain the terms "inspired callers" and "intelligent listener clips", describing them as "unscripted, real-life, previously-aired calls from actual listeners". Their Production Vault News/Talk "provides tools for stations to create promos and advertisements". Apparently stations are paying to have someone else edit their own calls for them, or supply some convenience that simplifies the task.