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?…..you’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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