Be Creative

This is the perfect time to be in local radio: budgets are drying up, people are getting axed almost every day, and the medium is getting attacked on all fronts. This is the perfect time to be in local radio, if you’re creative…

Lets say you’re a PD or on-air talent in a mid to small sized market. You’re probably just happy to still have a job. Promotions budget? What’s that? They’re drying up pretty fast these days. While there’s no shortage of “bloviating radio industry thinkers,” you rarely get front-line advice. This is what I’m attempting to do here.

I’m a firm believer that the old days of the “$100,000 Cash Giveaway” during a ratings period are over. Fine by me, because most listeners can see through the hype anyway. You can lure more listeners to your station by being honest and playing quality music. But, if you MUST indulge in an occasional stunt, then try this: Make something out of nothing.

Many years ago I was doing a morning show with my father Warren on an oldies station in Columbia, MO. We didn’t have much of a promotions budget so when one of the sleazy sales guys walked into our studio and announced that he landed us a dozen donuts a week from a sponsor, I knew we had to do something cool with it. Enter: The Donut Boy. We created this creepy character (played by me) who would barge into someone’s place of work with the donuts every Friday. This of course, would happen live on the air. It was an instant success. Everybody in town wanted “Donut Boy” to stop by their office. Why? It was such an obvious stunt that people saw through the fake hype and took it for what it was: a cheap Andy Kaufman bit. At the end of the day, this stunt created more buzz than if we would have tried to give away a Porsche.

Don’t have a dozen donuts? Then give away the rusty trash can in your studio. Offer to mow someone’s lawn live on the air. Hell, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it gets you out of the studio and sounds big. And here’s the key: You can’t take it seriously. Be honest. People like that.

Come on Local Radio…time to get back into that “War-Like Stance” and be creative. That’s what made you great…


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