Simple Contest

This is an old one, one of the originals. The goal is to build longer listening, to keep the ears tuned in. “When you hear (this), be the first….”

1959, Elvis is in the army. The disc jockey says: I’ll play the first new record from Private Elvis Presley, sometime after five o’clock this afternoon. When you hear it, be the first to call and you’ll win a copy of the record.” That soon morphed into “…be the seventh caller” because the most rabid listeners would sit there holding the last number on the rotary dial phone and they’d release it just at the very end of the commercial or jingle, the phone would start ringing just as the dj dropped the needle. Then it became: Be the ninth-seventh caller. The jock, working alone in the control room just took the phone of the hook for a few minutes and when he was ready, when he had all his commercial and jingle carts ready for the next break and the next record queued, would switch on the tape deck that was hooked to the phone line. He’d push the phone button down, release it and promptly say “the New 93Q, who’s this?…’re the 97th caller!!!!” That wasn’t cheating. Who the heck wants to answer the freakin’ phone ninety-six times? Wasn’t cheating because we make the rules, it’s our contest, see. It’s just a whole bunch easier to say: 97th caller than it is to say Everybody start calling me now, the phone’s off the hook and sometime within the next ten or twelve minutes, I’m gonna punch the button on the phone and if you’re there, you’re gonna win. Way too many words. We figure the goal is to achieve fairness with randomization of the entrants. Having the phone off the hook was playing fair, and must less trouble.
The contest was effective with sound effects, too. “Listen for this gong (gong) and call in to win…” At one time in my programming life, I had to have a new contest or promotion of some type every weekend. The listen-then-call template was adapted for all kinds of things. If I were at the helm today, I’d be doing it again. How it can be adapted for internet radio, I’m not sure. One way might be to “Listen for these three things then email the exact time you heard each of them. We’ll draw the winner from entries with the correct answer.”
If you’re programming a radio station, broadcast or internet, one of the most important things to do is to be consistently be giving listeners little reasons to come back at some later time to listen again.


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I am one of the pioneers of the Hot Country format that swept across radio in the late 80's. In the early 80’s, I began advising his clients to make two significant formatting moves: 1) Increase the tempo. 2) Play more Currents. What seemed radical at the time, immediately producing ratings winners. My report about the formatting tactics I was using "Repositioning Country Radio" was published in ‘91. It was purchased by more than 200 radio programmers and served as a basic game plan for the Hot Country movement. Today, most radio markets have at least one station positioning itself as “Hot” Country. However, I no longer advise using the slogan anymore. As the format continues to evolve rapidly, new strategies are needed to maintain market share. First announcing job in '64; first PD position at age 18. I served as PD, air talent and station manager in twelve diverse markets prior to starting my consulting business in 1981. At the end of the 90's, I began transitioning from consulting to full-time business development of my music scheduling software company. Conceived and developed the first for the Macintosh computer, introduced in 1987; and Music1™, the first scheduler for Windows, introduced in 1994. The Mac-based scheduler was retired in the early 90s. The innovative Music 1 scheduler is now installed in broadcast and webcast stations around the world. Author of The Programming Operations Manual, radio's only step by step "how to" programming and formatting guide. The $99 book has been purchased by over 3000 broadcasters in the U. S. and around the world. I've often written about the technical, strategic and philosophical aspects of radio programing. My articles have appeared in all major trade publications. Experienced in all standard radio research methodologies; focus group, one-on-one interviews, questionnaires, call-out, etc. From jingles to TV production, billboard and bumper sticker design, telemarketing to direct mail, I've been involved in every aspect of radio programming and marketing.