Back when I was in college and broke, we used to go to game show tapings in LA because, well, they were free, they’d often feed you, there were door prizes and with some shows there were actual chances to be ON the show. Like “The Price Is Right”.
So, me and some of my dormmates made the trek down to CBS Television City to stand in line to get in, and while we waited, some crew came along and one-by-one gave us eacg a quick interview and a name tag.
We were guys. We were 18-20, so there’s a certain air of feigned coolness that comes with that age and gender. They asked us a couple of questions and moved on. None of us were chosen.
Fast forward 20 years and my niece, who was broke and in college, was standing in line to do the same thing. Her roommate who was peppy and bubbly and just so gosh darn ebullient that it would make you sick…got the call to come on down and she went home with a new car.
Huh. Stoic cool guys get ignored and a bouncy, happy, barely-in-control young woman gets put on national TV.
Of course. Why wouldn’t she? TV game shows would be boring if everyone was polite and reserved. They want screamers and so should we.
Think about it: 4% of people will play our silly games, so what real reason is there for us to do them? For the winners and the promos. For the excitement they interject between Cardi B and the 4th new Ariana Grande drop this month.
And as an industry, we’ve pretty much even taken that away from the product. Could you imagine “The Price Is Right” taking people’s emails, sending them home and then calling them to tell them that they won? They’d be cancelled by the first commercial break.
Radio contests NEED sizzle and excitement and pending outcomes. Again…4%. That’s not a figure we should be proud of.
Wild in San Francisco once sent a plane of listeners to Disney for the day. It was a promotion with the local Fox affiliate and Alaska Airlines and the cost to the station was ZIP. And they did caller 107.
Listening along, it was exciting. Each new caller was increasingly breathless to know if they were the right one. And then exasperated as they hung up quickly to call again. And every freaking caller 107 lost their respective minds. And it sounded amazing.
Which brings us to 1986 and the time that MTV gave away a date with Prince.
It’s easy to Monday Morning Quarterback the network and what it evolved into but they did GREAT fucking contests. They did promotions based around artists and awarded prizes that money couldn’t buy.
Basically, they did what Radio group contests should be doing.
And I remember clearly that night, huddled in an apartment near Uptown in Minneapolis with someone from the station I worked at and a couple of her friends, trying like crazy to win that stupid contest and watching MTV as the number crept closer to 10,000. She had even MacGyvered a second phone line from a neighbor to double our chances.
So, with the $1000 Free Money Cash Hook Up, ask yourself, is anyone going to remember that contest 33 years from now? 33 minutes from now?
This is an amazing story and it’s about to become a movie, so read up and maybe walk away with some thought-starters on what your station could do to put your community in the spotlight for a night.