One of my favorite Programmers is Mark Adams with iHeart in San Francisco. Mark’s one of those guys who is literally so smart that I’ve always been afraid to ask to see his SATs because I knew it would just ruin my day.
Mark was talking about new technologies and how Radio is so anxious to be cool and sit at the Jock Table at lunch that we glom on to these things like pilot fish and go overboard embracing that, and we kind of look like idiots because in a lot of regards, they’ve already been a fundamental in the lives of a lot of our listeners for months before we suddenly stumbled on them.
Fax machines, cell phones, pagers, the internet, my space, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, drones, Periscope. There are stations that are just now getting on board with Snapchat even though the Teens, who dictate the trends and never ever forget that, were all over it a year ago.
Don’t misinterpret me, we should take advantage of every new “thing” as a way to engage and connect with our audience, but also, to be competitive and relevant.
All new doohickies either become fundamentals of eventually questions on “Jeopardy”.
We’re in Show Business and the best show bizzy methodologies can be traced back to elementary school and Tom Wasmoen’s birthday party in fourth grade. This was an event so huge and far-reaching in its scope that I made a stop in ER on the way home from it to get my head stitched up after taking a header down a flight of stairs. This was an incident that my brother Dr. Brett has said, “You know, he probably would have ended up being a scientist, now look at him”….shaking his head sadly.
(For the record, if you’re at Morning Show Bootcamp in Chicago and buy me a beer, I’ll show you the scar. THREE beers and I’ll show you the scar from the Great Zipper Incident Of 1989.)
So you have a million dollar prize like a chance to meet Taylor Swift. We’ve so dumbed down these kinds of tickets that their contesting is often indistinguishable from a buried-on-line registration thing to win a Tide Gift Pack.
If you were in 4th grade and had something like this kind of prize as a lure, I’d guess that Tom’s parents would have come up with something like these:
Balloon-O Five or Balloon-O Mars Tell me, what party or recess would have been complete without a ribald game of balloon toss? Wild in Tampa did it for Bruno Mars front row and AMP in Detroit had the winner meet Adam Levine and his band.
Dookie For Lukey Rowdy and Sunny at KVOO in Tulsa ain’t quite right and I’m kind of vague how the contest worked, but it involved Sunny hurling cow crap at the station sign to award Luke Bryan tickets.
Super Bowl Predictions Chet and the Morning Zoo at KLUC once picked the winner of the Super Bowl by laying down team logos of the two contenders all over the floor of the studio in Las Vegas. If a miniature pony named Little Heather pooped on the logo, that team was picked as the winner. And…she was right.
Turkey Bingo K-Earth in LA awarded a dial position number of grids on a tarp in a parking lot, brought out a turkey and whoever’s grid got pooped in, won.
Have you noticed the variety of promotions that involve #2?
Turkey Shoot If there had been paintball guns when Tom Wasmoen hosted the Party To End All Parties, I’m sure we would have been blasting the crap (another reference to #2) out of each other. Z-94.7 in Grand Forks and Q-107.5 in Memphis have dressed talent up as turkeys and then sent them scampering around a field as listeners with paintball guns tried to hit them to win free Thanksgiving dinners. The Tom Wasmoen version of this would probably be dodgeball. 94.9 in Cincinnati score TV every year with listeners bowling birds.
Balls That always makes me snicker. The Wolf in Seattle once had interns with leafblowers blasting numbered beachballs across a lot to award Kenny Chesney meet and greets. KDWB in Minneapolis, US-99.5 in Chicago and Magic in Birmingham have done it with throwing golf balls down a staircase.
Shocking Event Games In the beginning, there was “Operation”, and it was Good. Wired in Philly used Shock Tanks as a crowd generator at their promotions.
Jenga Nothing says “bored grade schoolers” like stacking blocks. Hot in Norfolk brought it back for a game at a concert.
Pop For Prizes Wooddale Elementary School used to host an annual carnival and it was pretty fucking cool. One of the rooms was filled with balloons. You picked one, an adult gave you a pin or used syringe, my memory is foggy, and you popped. Whatever was written on the prize slip that was inside, is what you won. As done by a DJ covered in balloons at a Gaga show in Charlotte.
An Actual Fly Away One of the Newcap stations had a trip to party at the Playboy mansion, which is a moderately decent prize. I suggested, begged and pled that they put it in the VIP Club. Sadly they ignored me and instead had 97 qualifiers ringing the 3rd level of a mall food court and on cue, threw paper airplanes at a target. First plane in the box won for the listener who winged it.
Green Day & Ham KOB-FM in Albuquerque had front row tickets to tickets to Green Day so they had numbered pigs racing down the street. Winning pig got tickets for its listeners and the losers were roasted on a spit and served with sweet tea and slaw.
Pumpkin Drops Depending on the statute of limitations in Edina, Minnesota I may or may not have lobbed old pumpkins off the roof of my highschool one night after an enterprising friend found an access door that led to a window, that led to us racking ourselves™ while trying to climb out it onto the roof. Stations like ‘ZPL in Indy and Q-104 in Halifax have taken it to new heights, and in the case of the latter, filling it with numbered balls for contesting.
Musical Chairs WiLD in Tampa popped the cherry on this with a contest to send people to the Grammys. KDWB was up next with a trip to the Super Bowl. Hot 107.9 in Ft. Wayne did it for a Bieber trip and KDUK in Eugene brought it back for a 1D experience.
Closest To The Pinhead I forget the prize but who cares. Hot 96.7 in Mankato took a DJ, stuck him, all padded up on a driving range and the listener who got a ball CLOSEST to him without hitting him, won. As Dionne said in ‘Clueless’, “My doctor said I’m not supposed to have balls flying at my face.”
The Human Lawn Dart And finally, Hot 95.7 in Houston had a car to giveaway. I suggested, begged and pled that they have people click-and-register on-line to give it away but instead they had Sarah Pepper jump out of a plane. If she landed in your grid, you won a car. If the parachute didn’t open, they’d name a studio after her.
My mother once said “I hope you thank God every day that you stumbled into a career that rewards a 4th grade sense of humor.”
Amen to that.