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#1
Old 12-31-2013, 05:15 PM
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Are all radio station "crank calls" fake?

This is probably a bleedin' obvious question, but... I've listened to endless hours of crappy radio morning shows while driving, and the "crank call" is one of their usual offerings. Is it safe to assume that all these calls are fake and they just hire an actor to play the victim?
#2
Old 12-31-2013, 05:18 PM
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I wouldn’t be surprised, but in at least one of them, the prankee said “Hey aren’t you XXXXXXX (fill in name of radio personality here)”, so I don’t think they all are.
#3
Old 12-31-2013, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
I wouldn’t be surprised, but in at least one of them, the prankee said “Hey aren’t you XXXXXXX (fill in name of radio personality here)”, so I don’t think they all are.
I dunno, I think that could easily be a "humorous" scripted moment as well.

On each show, I noticed that the "calls" all run about the same length of time and end in the same way; I don't think a real victim would give permission for a lot of them to get aired.

Last edited by LC Strawhouse; 12-31-2013 at 05:21 PM.
#4
Old 12-31-2013, 05:24 PM
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I find it hard to believe that in this era of CallerID that anyone is able to crank call anyone else. And personally, I don't find them to be funny, ever. Of course, I am an old grouch...
#5
Old 12-31-2013, 05:26 PM
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Do you really mean a crank call, in which an apparently crazy (often bigoted) person calls in to the DJ/presenter, or are you talking about a prank call where the DJ/presenter pretends to be a crazy person calling some unsuspecting civilian? These are not at all the same thing.

I should have thought that the former were mostly for real, but I would not be surprised if many of the latter are fake, with the callee in on the joke, and very possibly an actor rather than who they are claimed to be.
#6
Old 12-31-2013, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Do you really mean a crank call, in which an apparently crazy (often bigoted) person calls in to the DJ/presenter, or are you talking about a prank call where the DJ/presenter pretends to be a crazy person calling some unsuspecting civilian? These are not at all the same thing.

I should have thought that the former were mostly for real, but I would not be surprised if many of the latter are fake, with the callee in on the joke, and very possibly an actor rather than who they are claimed to be.
I guess I was talking about "prank calls" where the DJ calls some random person with a silly premise. "Uhh... we need you to evacuate your house to make room for the King of Spain"

Last edited by LC Strawhouse; 12-31-2013 at 05:37 PM.
#7
Old 12-31-2013, 05:38 PM
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Why would you assume they aren't real, and have to be scripted?

And haven't we had this discussion before?
#8
Old 12-31-2013, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
Why would you assume they aren't real, and have to be scripted?
Not saying they're necessarily scripted; I just picture the radio station having a few voice actors on hand who can humorously argue back at the caller. As I mentioned earlier, the calls all seem to follow the same pattern. I'm guessing that real calls would often be less entertaining and also get into messy permission disputes.
#9
Old 12-31-2013, 06:18 PM
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I read a recent article about an NYC actor and something they mentioned as an aside is one gig they use to make rent is recording prank calls for radio stations. They mentioned that nearly every call you hear like that is fake. I don't know if that is true but I found it surprising if it was (I assumed that some were fake but not most).
#10
Old 01-01-2014, 10:15 PM
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A nurse named Jacintha Saldanha committed suicide and left notes blaming DJs. The DJs called pretending to be British royalty while Saldanha was on duty at a hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated. She had reportedly made multiple suicide attempts prior to the prank. Still, the DJs apparently felt great responsibility for her death and the owners of their station offered a large sum of money to the nurse's family.

http://dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...sponsible.html
#11
Old 01-02-2014, 01:38 AM
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While it doesn't involve death, this DJ prank call backfired in a spectacular way. It doesn't sound fake, but who knows?

This prank call, originally hosted at Car Talk, is probably genuine since the woman's father actually set her up.
#12
Old 01-02-2014, 02:19 AM
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Originally Posted by buddha_david View Post
While it doesn't involve death, this DJ prank call backfired in a spectacular way. It doesn't sound fake, but who knows?
Are you kidding me? This sounds painfully fake and scripted.
#14
Old 01-02-2014, 04:23 AM
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I always just assumed that they taped the prank calls the afternoon before, and they just didn't use the ones where the prankee hangs up right away/doesn't respond the way they expect them to/recognizes the voice of the guy from the radio show.
#15
Old 01-02-2014, 08:57 AM
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Traditionally, the prank calls were unscripted; it's quite clear from listening to Don Imus's "1200 Hamburgers to Go" that the guy at the McDonald's is no actor.
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#16
Old 01-02-2014, 09:38 AM
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Radio stations, even large, lucrative ones, are notoriously cheap.

The reason DJs do that sort of thing is not because it's particularly compelling radio, it's simply because they have airtime to fill and prank calls cost nothing. It doesn't help the bottom line at all to have a bunch of voice actors just sitting around just for the purposes of staging prank calls.
#17
Old 01-02-2014, 09:59 AM
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I believe the War of the Roses prank was originally true, but find it really hard to believe that people continually fall for it, let alone give permission to the radio station to air it. Here's an article from a few years ago with voice actors claiming it's all fake.

Last edited by Munch; 01-02-2014 at 10:00 AM.
#18
Old 01-02-2014, 10:09 AM
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They used to be real and now they are mostly not. Now in order to air someone's voice on the air you have to be given specific permission. If you tape a person with the intent of putting them on the radio you must tell them before you tape them. It used to be that you could tape someone and then get them to agree afterwards.
This is just for the US other countries have different laws.
#19
Old 01-02-2014, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Munch View Post
Here's an article from a few years ago with voice actors claiming it's all fake.
Thanks, great article. Sounds like these calls are definitely fake, especially if they are "calling" some random Joe with a humorous petty dispute. But it's possibly real if they take the trouble to call well-known people like Sarah Palin or the British royal family.
#20
Old 01-02-2014, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Munch View Post
I believe the War of the Roses prank was originally true, but find it really hard to believe that people continually fall for it, let alone give permission to the radio station to air it. Here's an article from a few years ago with voice actors claiming it's all fake.
Yes War of the Roses is fake. The bit is owned by Clear Channel. The actors who do it go on station after station around the country.

Prank calls on radio used to be real. At least some of them. Now it is illegal. The FCC changed the rule several years ago. Now they are fining radio channels if they air prank calls. No one is on the air without knowing they are on the air first. http://lsglegal.com/index.php?op...=178&Itemid=60

ETA: of course that only covers the US. The prank involving the Royal Family was from Australia.

Last edited by Loach; 01-02-2014 at 11:44 AM.
#21
Old 01-02-2014, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
Radio stations, even large, lucrative ones, are notoriously cheap.

The reason DJs do that sort of thing is not because it's particularly compelling radio, it's simply because they have airtime to fill and prank calls cost nothing. It doesn't help the bottom line at all to have a bunch of voice actors just sitting around just for the purposes of staging prank calls.
You are not correct. Most stations are owned by conglomerates. These bits are farmed out across the country. They are usually put together off the air and made to sound live. There are also services like prepburger that provides bits to radio shows. That is why radio sucks equally across the country. They are all using the same bits. There is no need for a bunch of voice actors to be on the payroll.
#22
Old 01-02-2014, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
These bits are farmed out across the country. They are usually put together off the air and made to sound live. There are also services like prepburger that provides bits to radio shows. That is why radio sucks equally across the country. They are all using the same bits. There is no need for a bunch of voice actors to be on the payroll.
Call-in shows also reuse bits. I've heard the exact same call on Delialh twice in about six months.
#23
Old 01-02-2014, 12:09 PM
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Back in the nineties I had a casette someone made for me of the world's best prank calls. A group of people were calling a conservative Christian talk show, and the calls always started off like normal stories but grew totally outlandish.

One caller, for example, was a former atheist who worked construction, until an accident crushed his leg and it was amputated. He lost his job, began drinking, his wife left him, his life was in tatters. Until he in desperation went to a church, where he felt the spirit of Christ enter him. And they all prayed together. "And last week, my leg grew back." That sort of thing.

My favorite was the guy who called in to commiserate about all the prank calls. "I just want you to know, preacher, that these godless souls are really showing how sad they are, and how much they need Jesus, but we're all praying for them, and we're praying for you, and thank you for your courage in standing up to them, and I'm totally naked and covered in pancake syrup."

Anyone familiar with these calls? Googling has turned up nothing.

Last edited by Left Hand of Dorkness; 01-02-2014 at 12:10 PM.
#24
Old 01-02-2014, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Skywatcher View Post
Call-in shows also reuse bits. I've heard the exact same call on Delialh twice in about six months.
The tired and worn out Scott and Todd show in NYC reuses their own prank calls. So sometimes you might hear old real pranks mixed in with new fake ones. But they are equally unfunny.
#25
Old 01-02-2014, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
Back in the nineties I had a casette someone made for me of the world's best prank calls. A group of people were calling a conservative Christian talk show, and the calls always started off like normal stories but grew totally outlandish.

One caller, for example, was a former atheist who worked construction, until an accident crushed his leg and it was amputated. He lost his job, began drinking, his wife left him, his life was in tatters. Until he in desperation went to a church, where he felt the spirit of Christ enter him. And they all prayed together. "And last week, my leg grew back." That sort of thing.

My favorite was the guy who called in to commiserate about all the prank calls. "I just want you to know, preacher, that these godless souls are really showing how sad they are, and how much they need Jesus, but we're all praying for them, and we're praying for you, and thank you for your courage in standing up to them, and I'm totally naked and covered in pancake syrup."

Anyone familiar with these calls? Googling has turned up nothing.
The Jerky Boys started by doing pranks and releasing their own tapes in the 80s. Maybe that was what you were listening to.

Another famous one was the Bum Bar Bastards. They would call the old Tube Bar in Jersey City and talk to the bartender Red. Red was a scary old guy with no sense of humor. The calls consisted of asking for customers like Al Coholic and Red cursing and threatening to kill them. The calls were put on tape and passed around. They inspired the Bart Simpson calls to Moe's.
#26
Old 01-02-2014, 12:40 PM
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Not sure if "radio station" refers to the Howard Stern show, but Captain Janks made dozens over the years, perhaps the most famous being his portrayal of a neighbor of OJ Simpson who got through to Peter Jennings and Al Michaels on live tv.
#27
Old 01-02-2014, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Do you really mean a crank call, in which an apparently crazy (often bigoted) person calls in to the DJ/presenter, or are you talking about a prank call where the DJ/presenter pretends to be a crazy person calling some unsuspecting civilian? These are not at all the same thing.
The terms "crank call" and "prank call" are used to mean exactly the same thing, a phone call where the caller is deliberately screwing around with the person they call. Wikipedia has them listed a synonyms, and a previous thread on the subject indicated that "crank call" may be the older term. When I was a kid that was definitely the term we used, and more recently there was also the TV show Crank Yankers.

I've never heard "crank call" used to describe a sincere but cranky/crazy person who calls in to a talk show.
#28
Old 01-02-2014, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by phungi View Post
Not sure if "radio station" refers to the Howard Stern show, but Captain Janks made dozens over the years, perhaps the most famous being his portrayal of a neighbor of OJ Simpson who got through to Peter Jennings and Al Michaels on live tv.
Slightly different in that case because it wasn't the radio show doing the calls. He is just a listener that did it on his own and they later put it on the air. But it was done before the change in FCC rules.
#29
Old 01-02-2014, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by phungi View Post
Not sure if "radio station" refers to the Howard Stern show, but Captain Janks made dozens over the years, perhaps the most famous being his portrayal of a neighbor of OJ Simpson who got through to Peter Jennings and Al Michaels on live tv.
What you say about Captain Janks is true in that he really did make tons of calls but I did want to mention he didn't make that famous OJ call. That was someone else.
#30
Old 01-02-2014, 01:42 PM
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Clear Channel's morning show Z100, has an ongoing "stations that love us" gimmick where they will play one of their "phone taps" and then play some other station's prank call that was almost word for word the same as their "tap". Only it is different people-- actors-- supposedly being phone tapped by the smaller station's personell.

Elvis Duran, the Z100 head radio personality, says that he prefers to think of it as flattery and not thievery.
#31
Old 01-02-2014, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Biggirl View Post
Clear Channel's morning show Z100, has an ongoing "stations that love us" gimmick where they will play one of their "phone taps" and then play some other station's prank call that was almost word for word the same as their "tap". Only it is different people-- actors-- supposedly being phone tapped by the smaller station's personell.

Elvis Duran, the Z100 head radio personality, says that he prefers to think of it as flattery and not thievery.
I don't want to beat a dead horse but he is lying. FCC rules prohibit airing calls in which the person was not notified beforehand. The FCC is giving out fines to stations that do it. No crank calls that are played on the Elvis Duran Show are real unless he is playing them from years ago.

It's possible that he comes up with original ideas that others steal. But he is using people who are in on the calls too. Most shows just recycle the same ideas and I'm sure Elvis Duran does too. Prepburger tries to keep their client list secret so I don't know if he uses it.
#32
Old 01-02-2014, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
I don't want to beat a dead horse but he is lying. FCC rules prohibit airing calls in which the person was not notified beforehand. The FCC is giving out fines to stations that do it. No crank calls that are played on the Elvis Duran Show are real unless he is playing them from years ago.

It's possible that he comes up with original ideas that others steal. But he is using people who are in on the calls too. Most shows just recycle the same ideas and I'm sure Elvis Duran does too. Prepburger tries to keep their client list secret so I don't know if he uses it.
I'm not understanding why crank calls cannot be done. You make the call and then you get permission. If you don't get permission, the call doesn't get aired. And yes, he does use people who are in on the call. That's the hook. You send request to the station for people you want to prank and, usually, the person calling for the prank initiates the call.
#33
Old 01-02-2014, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Biggirl View Post
I'm not understanding why crank calls cannot be done. You make the call and then you get permission. If you don't get permission, the call doesn't get aired. And yes, he does use people who are in on the call. That's the hook. You send request to the station for people you want to prank and, usually, the person calling for the prank initiates the call.
It's because you have to get permission before the call is made. From the FCC's website:

Quote:
Pursuant to this rule, before recording a telephone conversation for broadcast, or broadcasting such a conversation simultaneously with its occurrence, a licensee shall inform any party to the call of the licensee's intention to broadcast the conversation, except where such party is aware, or may be presumed to be aware from the circumstances of the conversation that it is being or likely will be broadcast. Such awareness is presumed to exist only when the other party to the call is associated with the station (such as an employee or part-time reporter), or where the other party originates the call and it is obvious that it is in connection with a program in which the station customarily broadcasts telephone conversations.
The list of times this rule's been enforced on that page make it unlikely that a show on a large station has been ignoring it and escaped the notice of the FCC.

Last edited by Mithras; 01-02-2014 at 02:55 PM.
#34
Old 01-02-2014, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Biggirl View Post
I'm not understanding why crank calls cannot be done. You make the call and then you get permission. If you don't get permission, the call doesn't get aired. And yes, he does use people who are in on the call. That's the hook. You send request to the station for people you want to prank and, usually, the person calling for the prank initiates the call.
Dammit I keep trying to make a nice reply going back and forth with quotes from the FCC but my phone isn't cooperating.

Here is a ruling on one case from a few years ago. You can find the language yourself.
http://fcc.gov/document/16000-fo...gainst-wskq-fm

Bottom line: the FCC rules state that both parties must know the call may be used on air prior to the call, not prior to airing. A release is not good enough. Elvis Duran is not making real prank phone calls. It's either scripted with actors or both parties know its for broadcast.
#35
Old 01-02-2014, 03:02 PM
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Ah, now I understand. Thanks for being so patient. And on your mobile too!
#36
Old 01-02-2014, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
The reason DJs do that sort of thing is not because it's particularly compelling radio, it's simply because they have airtime to fill and prank calls cost nothing. It doesn't help the bottom line at all to have a bunch of voice actors just sitting around just for the purposes of staging prank calls.
Why would you think that they would have voice actors just "sitting around"? That's asinine. You would just have to hire a couple of them for a day. In an eight hour day, you could probably shit out a year's worth of bits.

The consensus of this thread is what I believe to be true. Twenty years ago, most of them were real. Now they're almost all fake. This probably has more to do with the changes in regulations than anything else.
#37
Old 01-02-2014, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Mithras View Post
It's because you have to get permission before the call is made. From the FCC's website:



The list of times this rule's been enforced on that page make it unlikely that a show on a large station has been ignoring it and escaped the notice of the FCC.
That was the link I was looking for. Thanks. I knew they had been enforcing it for years but I didn't know it went back to 2000.

Biggirl, someone like Duran is less likely to want to run afoul of the FCC. He is syndicated. If the show gets fined the fine is assessed on every station he is on.

Last edited by Loach; 01-02-2014 at 03:09 PM.
#38
Old 01-02-2014, 03:12 PM
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I meant to add an anecdote.

Somewhere around 1992 a friend of mine was part of a prank. He was in Asia on a one month business trip and his girlfriend had a morning DJ call him at like 3am his time so that she, along with the radio station staff, could harass him about proposing to her. To say that he was not amused would be a significant understatement. I didn't hear it but a lot of his friends and colleagues did. She got pretty much the opposite of a proposal when he returned to the States.
#39
Old 01-02-2014, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
Dammit I keep trying to make a nice reply going back and forth with quotes from the FCC but my phone isn't cooperating.

Here is a ruling on one case from a few years ago. You can find the language yourself.
http://fcc.gov/document/16000-fo...gainst-wskq-fm

Bottom line: the FCC rules state that both parties must know the call may be used on air prior to the call, not prior to airing. A release is not good enough. Elvis Duran is not making real prank phone calls. It's either scripted with actors or both parties know its for broadcast.
Would it be correct that this FCC rule does not apply to calls made to people who hold political office? Because those calls are protected by the First Amendment? The prank calls to Sarah Palin and Scott Walker got wide airplay.
#40
Old 01-02-2014, 03:19 PM
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Why would you think that they would have voice actors just "sitting around"? That's asinine. You would just have to hire a couple of them for a day. In an eight hour day, you could probably shit out a year's worth of bits.

The consensus of this thread is what I believe to be true. Twenty years ago, most of them were real. Now they're almost all fake. This probably has more to do with the changes in regulations than anything else.
I heard an interview with a guy who does War of the Roses. He gets paid $75 a pop. WotR is a Clear Channel owned bit. Different stations call him up along with whoever they have playing his wife and they do the bit with the station's jocks. Then it's edited before airing. No need to have actors on payroll, Clear Channel has them available for their stations.

I also mentioned Prepburger. It's a real company. The station becomes a client and Prepburger provides song parodies, phony phone calls, contest ideas, topical jokes etc. All of it sucks and can be heard across the country. PB just adds in the stations call letters or there are breaks in the bits where the local jock can be a part of the bit.
#41
Old 01-02-2014, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by LC Strawhouse View Post
Would it be correct that this FCC rule does not apply to calls made to people who hold political office? Because those calls are protected by the First Amendment? The prank calls to Sarah Palin and Scott Walker got wide airplay.
Your first link was about a call made by a Quebec based show. The second was made by an online newspaper. Neither of which are under the FCC. If either were made by American radio shows they could have been fined.

Last edited by Loach; 01-02-2014 at 03:24 PM.
#42
Old 01-02-2014, 03:27 PM
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The early Rush callers were certainly all fake.
#43
Old 01-03-2014, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by phungi View Post
Not sure if "radio station" refers to the Howard Stern show, but Captain Janks made dozens over the years, perhaps the most famous being his portrayal of a neighbor of OJ Simpson who got through to Peter Jennings and Al Michaels on live tv.
My understanding is that it is still legal to play recordings of calls made to other radio stations and tv stations. Obviously, people broadcasting have no expectation of privacy. It would be no different than playing a clip of the other show on the air. A prank caller recording would be no different than recording a legit caller.
#44
Old 01-03-2014, 03:35 PM
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Yes, call-in radio shows are explicitly legal by that FAA code. If you are calling in, you have no expectation of not being recorded. Ergo, the one calling in also recording should be covered. But the recordings are probably from the show itself.
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