With BDS and social media trending and all of the other opportunities for low-effort research and analysis, Radio has kind of forgotten that sometimes, you just need to go out and talk to people. It’s the best market research ever.
Wild in San Francisco launched strong but 10 months into it, it was still trying to find its music niche. They’d tried to out Urban KMEL, which failed. They tried mainstream CHR in a market where that had never really been a strong format. So, what was there to do?
Jerry Clifton pointed out that with the demise of Hot 97 in San Jose, there was a HUGE disenfranchised Hispanic audience 30 miles to the south, so he and Rick Thomas (greatest PD, possibly, ever) went down and hung around San Jose for about a week. Just went around to bars and corner markets and parks and record stores and talked to people.
“Someone needs to play Old School!” came back again and again and again. Rick had come from Z-90 in San Diego but really had just a passing knowledge of that music so they spent a few days immersed in it, went back to Wild, started adding in artists that included Roger & Zapp but most importantly, opened up the station to a million Hispanics down the road, and boom: they beat KMEL in a year.
God bless Coleman Research but they would have never pointed the 107.7 programming in the direction of Old School.
When I travel, it’s fun to take the morning show and Promotion Director and hopefully the PD, out to malls and just talk to people. It’s pretty amazing.
Ruby Carr at Z-95.3 in Vancouver especially loves it when I ask people if they’d ever heard of her.
We usually start by saying that we’re from out of town and what’s a good club to go to. And then “what’s a good radio station to listen to for local events and shows?” And then we explain that we’re actually from a broadcast group, we’re in town for some stuff and “what Radio promotion or contest or ‘thing’ do you remember?”
You’ll walk away with three things.
Twenty years? Holy balls. That’s huge. In the Twin Cities, it’s probably Tom Bernard’s “Light Happy Music” during the 1987 World Series. Tampa? That’s hard. That’s a GREAT radio market but I bet that “Josh and Brian launching Wild 98.7” would get a lot of recalls. Jamz in Greensboro losing their “1”. 96X in Miami broadcasting from the Bermuda Triangle. KGGI in Riverside moving to Iowa. Hot 89.9 in Ottawa for maybe ten things but most likely giving away a baby.
The one constant you see with these is that they break Radio Rules. Not FCC regs but these rules that some slide rule geek came up with and we’ve all bought into.
Coming up with a promotion is basically an exercise in problem solving.
Okay. So one of the iHeart stations hit me up the other night with an artist who had dropped in their lap and their goal was to “drown out” the competition’s annual Cinco de Mayo thing. They want their artist appearance be so big and loud and buzzworthy that no one cares about this bit across the street.
THAT is a great goal.
So, I sat down and came up with a few things and then looked at them and thought “What could I add to this that would make it have a half-life equal to plutonium and that people would remember in even a week, no less ten years?”
Not everything can be a Mall Idea, but when you’re sitting down and trying to figure out what you can do with this Mothers Day jewelry giveaway, in your head, imagine going out to the biggest mall in your market in a decade and having people go “Oh, yeah. Definitely when K-Paige took a mom and said she was going to a salon to get her hair done, but when she got there her son was dressed as a stylist…they’d flown him in from his Army post in Germany to surprise her.” Will it get that kind of market impact? Who knows? But wouldn’t you want to try?