As happens when a station has had the same owner for 30 years and then is suddenly swapped, when CBS took over Power 96 in Miami, I was flooded with emails from staff asking variations of “They know we’re big and successful and aren’t going to come in and make big rash changes?” I assured them that there was no WAY that was going to occur.
The first thing the new owners did was to bring in new managers from outside the market. I get it. That’s what you do. But Miami is singularly the most unique radio market in the country so you REALLY want people who know the culture, the nuances and get the mix of all these factors.
My suggestion was to go and immerse themselves immediately and do things like hang out in little taverns in Liberty City and take cigar rolling classes. I was told that they had relatives who lived there and visited every December.
I then tried to explain the history of the station as it relates to contesting. Half of the great promotional methodologies in Radio originated with Bill Tanner and Jerry Clifton at Power 96. I told them that it’s about noise and excitement and TBD payoffs and plot twists and winners AND losers and most of all, giddy, jubilant winners. I strongly suggested sitting through a weekend of “Sabado Gigante” reruns to get the vibe. Loud music, a boisterous host, confetti cannons. That’s what a Power 96 contest is.
The first move was to cancel “Beat The Bomb”. You would truly have to live in Miami to understand how Bomb is engrained into the DNA of that station. It would be like McDonalds cancelling French fries.
It was replaced with a PPM contest from a Rock station in Minneapolis.
You would really have to work hard to drive 40% of the listeners of a heritage station away in the first 90 days.
4% of people play contests so really, the only true purpose of a contest is to add excitement to the overall presentation of a brand. Text-to-win has chipped away at that. “Enter your email to win” has eroded that.
One of the stations did a promotion in 2019 with what I can only describe as a Million Dollar Prize. It was the kind of prize that you could get people to listen to the radio to win. The kind of prize that people would spray paint their house pink to win. The kind of a prize that would elicit that screaming, excited winner.
And there was none of that. You entered your email and they apparently replied and told you that you won. Not even a pay off with a winners promo.
Hollywood has done all of our research for us. They create the trends and then they repackage them over and over and over. And they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.
Take game shows for instance. How boring would Family Feud be if the two families weren’t bouncing and going crazy. You think that that’s not coached?
When I was in college in Los Angeles we used to go and watch game shows get filmed because:
So me and my idiot friends stood in line for “The Price Is Right” and someone came along, gave us each a quick interview and our name tag. We were 18 and while not cool or even CLOSE to being cool, we had the 18 year-old male aura of trying to be cool. Non-hypey. The woman who was five or six people down could barely contain herself. She was bouncing in place and could barely manage her words she was so excited.
Guess who got called to come on down?
We can’t manage our winners like a game show but we can create platforms that might elicit that visceral response. We can go and surprise winners in their workplace. We can do promotions that will get “live” winners. Because nothing sounds like paint drying more than awarding a trip to the Superbowl to someone who cashed in VIP Club points.