Radio has always been adept at playing off of TV trends. When “Survivor” broke out as a hit in 2000 we used it as springboard to a myriad of promotions that locked listeners in bathrooms or cars or stuck them on roller coasters. And it was good.
In 2006, Idol debuted and that begat a slew of localized talent competitions. Some were good. Some were like bad karaoke nights at the VFW. The actual best that I witnessed first-hand was Saginaw Idol that was done by WIOG: there was some serious talent in the room. As a celebrity judge I had to go and ruin it by giving my deciding vote to a dueling piano player, which is some kind of egregious sin in Amateur Talent Circles. Whoops.
And then…we just kind of walked away and conceded musical talent shows to television, which seems kind of stupid. We are the music medium. We have some cred.
“The X Factor”, “Idol”, “The Voice”, “America’s Got Talent”, even “The Next Top Model” is a form of talent show, and TV wouldn’t be running these in heavy rotation is there wasn’t an audience for them. There’s even a talent show for kids.
So there-in lies a big gapping hole that a station could fill.
In fact, myTalk 107.1 and the St. Paul Saints baseball team already do a version for cats. Yes, and this may be news to you, but there is in fact a Cat Film Fest of amateur home cat films that they do at the stadium every summer.
Radio can rarely do it better than the original, so you may need an angle. One hook is that you’re actually local. Another could be, without it becoming a morning show bit, would be to narrow the field to just a profession like Kiss in Charlotte did with Fastfood Drive Thru Employee Idol (drive thru employees singing over those crappy fanny pack mike set-ups). Or narrow it down to genres like highschool Glee choirs or marching bands, like ‘KIS did in Miami and inexplicably stopped. The latter competition was done entirely on-line with videos and voting.
The local Idol competitions were generally done as a series with a client (see: ‘club’) with weekly winners and then a final event. If you do this live, get people who have actual credibility as the judges and not some consultant who happened to be in town for a night so they stuck him at a table with a TV reporter and some dude from a label. (As cool as I am, I should not be judging talent)
For a prize, sometimes you can get stuck in the “we have to give them money” trap. Money is nice. I like money. But for an up-and-coming artist studio time is a great reward for winning. Both Wild in San Francisco and WPGC in DC did studio time, artist representation, a limited pressing and a release party as a prize for their Home Jamz promotions and that was what the people wanted.
The Fall lineup starts in a few weeks and we should never forget that TV has done most of our research for us.