A few years ago I published this article on gathering listener audio. It was prompted by a colleague from another market who asked, "How do you get such real sounding people?" My answer, "I talk to them." You'd be surprised what can happen when you just start talking to people. They begin to get comfortable. They forget that the mic is right there. They start to open up, and; what comes out, is something real, honest. What I like to call, "digital gold".
Of course, you've got to get them to talk about the stuff you want to capture. So you need to ask questions to steer the conversation in that direction. When you first approach a potential subject, asking them about radio is a turn-off. The immediate objection is "I don't listen to the radio”, or; "I listen to Pandora/Satellite/My iPod/etc." To avoid that negative conversation stopper, instead ask them about music and the market you're in. "What's your favorite song at the moment?" "What's the best thing about Pittsburgh?" Now you're getting some honest answers that you can really use.
Then, start taking the conversation into realms of specifics about your market: its sports teams, its landmarks, the local TV stations (every market has at least one wacky news/weather/sports personality on TV that people talk about). Suddenly you've got some local things that are unique to your market that no other station in your format can duplicate.
After a while, when they've revealed a little more about their listening habits (i.e. that the actually do listen to radio), you can start to turn the conversation back to the radio station. "What is it about 100.7 that makes it a Pittsburgh station?" BAM! Now you've got them talking in specifics about your station and your personalities and getting something more than "they're really funny in the morning." You've mined the "digital gold"!
So where is the best place to go 'mining'? For a few months one year, I had great success at a weekly happy hour appearance our station had at a wine bar. This place was freakin' great! Nice atmosphere, not too noisy and filled with P1 listeners who, once they had a glass or two of wine, were ready and willing to talk about our station. But, when the wine bar didn’t renew the schedule, that source dried up. I then tried tagging along to other remotes: retail stores, concerts, charity events with varying degrees of success. I will caution about going to concerts. Depending upon the crowd, they're either really noisy & drunk or they're focus is only on the artist they're there to see. At American Idols live in 2012 it was nearly impossible to get people to name an artist other than Phillip Phillips.
You can also instruct your receptionist to page you anytime a listener picks up a prize. Now you can invite the winners back to your studio and see what gold you can mine for. After all, they’ve just received a prize, got a quick tour of the station, so they should be receptive to spending a few minutes saying some nice things about the radio station.
Now go out there and start mining for some of your own digital gold!