Helping call screeners to become "fishers of men"

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Can we better serve God and His people?

The purpose of sharing these reflections is to provide some food for thought and for prayer.

The context is one of great gratitude to each and all of you for being our hidden St. Marthas, toiling away in the kitchen on behalf of the show while the moderator and priest get to share the spotlight on center stage.

Your humble and hidden service is what makes it possible for the show to go on. We couldn't do it without you.

We want you to know how much we love you and how much we appreciate what you have already done for us. In raising the question of whether there might be better ways to attract callers to stay on the line and speak on the air, we are not criticizing you but trying to offer you a growth opportunity. We know you have always done the best you can in a very strange and complex job, and we don't in any way want to make it harder or less fun for you.

The Goal: Landing more live calls

Our call screeners speak for us to our callers.

People show that they have been hooked by calling to give a question or an intention. It's up to the call screeners to bring the callers on board the boat.

Practical wisdom

The questions we would like to explore with you are:

  • What has worked for you in persuading a caller to go on the air with us?
  • What hasn't worked?

Points to ponder

The following material is not something to read to a caller. It is meant for you to help you find the right words to say at the right time to help someone overcome their fears and anxieties.

Please let me know what you have found helpful or not, especially if you have some new ideas to add to this page.

Thanks for your service to God, to our callers, to the station, and to today's moderator and priest. We couldn't do the show without you. You make all the difference in the world to us. We love you, and we pray that you will be blessed as you talk with the children of God on our behalf.

You are greeting our guests at the door of a party. We pray that you will be able to sound warm and welcoming to them, so that they may feel at home and come join the party on the air. Even if your normal disposition is to be on the quiet and shy side yourself, we hope that you can bring out another side of your personality and that of our callers as you talk with them.

Who is on the air today?

Right at the outset, we have to recognize that different priests have different expectations for the show on which they serve. You need to know who is on the air and tailor your pitch to that day's show.

Priest Strategy
Fr. Poblocki Fr. Poblocki does not want to take intercessions live on the air. He prefers to group them together at the beginning and the end of the show. When he is on duty, you should let anyone who asks for prayers know that you will write them down and pass them on to him; callers with questions should be warmly invited to stay on the line and talk to Fr. Poblocki directly. You can hear the enthusiasm in his voice when he gets a live caller.
Fr. Calabrese
Fr. Moleski Fr. Moleski tries to preserve the tradition begun by Fr. Illig of praying for people on the air. Any live phone call of any type should go to the top priority for the screener and the moderator to get on the air. Fr. Moleski believes that live calls breed live calls and does not mind setting aside material prepared in advance to follow where the Spirit leads us. We can always go back to prepared material, the theme of the day, e-mails, or Facebook correspondence after talking with our caller.
Fr. Confer
Fr. Mayer
Fr. Jacek Mazur
Fr. Ryzard Biernat
Fr. Leon Biernat
Fr. Mark Noonan
Fr. Bob Zilliox
Monsignor Zapfel

Talking on the air is fun for everyone

"Our moderator and priest would love to hear you express your needs in your own voice. It's more fun for them, and better for our other listeners. They've asked me to say, 'Pretty please with sugar on top?'"
"You'll have fun, too. Maybe not while you're waiting or in the first few seconds, but as the call goes on and afterward. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment if you overcome your hesitancy and decide to make this sacrifice for the Lord and for His children."

You will go from last to first

Note table above: this varies from priest to priest.

"If you leave your question or intention with me, it will go to the end of the line of things we have received today; if you can stay on the line for just a few minutes, you will be next. As you are waiting, you will hear the show over the telephone. If you can't stay on the line, we can't guarantee that your question or intention will get on the air today."
"Our moderator and priest love to feel that at least one person is actually listening to what they are saying and really cares about the answer or the prayer. You are in a position to give them a great blessing today by being that person."

We can ask Father to be nice to you

"Fr. Moleski knows that he gets carried away some times, and that it might make people afraid to talk to him. If you are one of them, we will put a special mark next to your question to remind him not to terrorize our callers. Father would much rather have a subdued conversation with a live listener than hearing a moderator re-read what I send in on your behalf."

You know what you want

"Even though we try really hard to figure out what your question or prayer request is, it is very hard to put your tone of voice and everything that you mean into a few words. If Father has any trouble understanding what you mean, you can make it clear in just a few seconds on the air; when he is dealing with a written question or prayer request, he can only make educated guesses. I type up your question or prayer request as best I can to help father get started, but it is no substitute for you. If 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' a live call is worth at least ten thousand."

Please offer it up

"I know it is harder for you to stay on the line than to have me relay this for you, but your reward will greater, too."

It is OK to be nervous

"Yes, I know you are nervous, but after a few seconds you will realize that it is just like having a phone call with some new friends. You are talking on the telephone with me right now; it won't be any harder than this to talk with the moderator and priest on the air."
"Everybody is nervous at first. That's normal, and it's not a big deal. Let your love reign over you, not your fears. This is a great adventure!"

"I know how you feel"

It would be lovely if every call screener would at least one call to a live show themselves for two reasons:
1. They will know what it is like to be on the other side.
2. They will be able to talk from experience about what it feels like to overcome fear.

I will be praying for you

"You are not alone. God is with us. I am on your side, too. I am praying and I will pray that God will give you the words you need when you need them."

Your reward will be great

"Virtue, like muscle, is acquired by practice. Overcoming your fears about talking on the air will make you a stronger person."
"After the call is over, you will feel great."
"This is a great growth opportunity for you. If you push through your reluctance, you will be better able to participate the next time you call."

Call me back afterward, if you wish

"We would love to hear what you thought of your experience in talking on the air. Please feel free to call back to talk about it, or send an e-mail to cac@thestationofthecross.com. Thanks!"

No threats

I am not suggesting that our callers should be told that they must go on the air if they want their question or petition to be heard.
We don't want to shame them or make them feel bad in any way if, even after hearing the best possible pitch that you can make to them, they decide to slip away. If you can help them get over their fears, great; if not, that's OK. That's why they call it "fishing" instead of "catching."

No pushing

People will resent it if they feel they are being pushed over the edge. They do have the right to remain silent. This is an invitation to grow in love, not a command under penalty of law.

Comfort My People

The root of "comfort" is "fort," which means "strengthen." The same root gives us our English words "fort," "fortress," "fortify," "fortification," "force," and the like.
The purpose of this page is first to fortify you--to feed your mind, your imagination, your spirit with good things--so that you, in turn, can comfort our callers.

Be yourself, be positive, be encouraging

Each screener will find out what works best for them.
To "encourage" literally means "to put heart into someone." You are having a heart-to-heart talk with one of God's precious children. Put your heart into the work, and do the best you can to put heart into them.
God does not like to chase us from behind with whips and sheep dogs. He is a Good Shepherd who leads from the front of the flock. He draws us through the bonds of love and affection, not through threats or manipulation. That is what we want to do, too. The goal of thinking about this is to develop the art of gentle persuasion.

Please call back if you get disconnected

If the line goes dead, it is nothing personal. Please call back as fast as possible, and I will put you straight through to the moderator. If you haven't got it right at your fingertips, the number is 877-511-5483.
OK, this is it. I'm transferring you now. God bless you!

The right word at the right time

This is waaaaaaaaaay too much to remember or repeat in detail with any one caller.
You don't need to remember it all or repeat it all.
Take what you like--what works best for you--and heave the rest.

The Warm Good-bye

"Thanks so much for your question or intention. We really appreciate it very much. I'll put it in the lineup right way. We prayed for you before the show, I'm praying for you now, and we will remember you afterward, too. Please do call us again. God bless you!"

Pat yourself on the back

Give yourself a thumbs-up when you help a caller take the big step into a new experience. Well done!
Don't beat yourself up at all if, after you've said what you can say, they still don't want to go on the air. That's life with the People of God. We all have different gifts, and talking on the air is not for everybody.

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