This “Ghost Stories” idea is in the same spirit of the “Pinewood Derby” post a few weeks back. The idea is this: to create a compelling piece of local radio content–on the cheap–that engages not only the parents of your community, but the kids as well. The theory is that if you can give kids a positive and nostalgic memory of your radio station at an early age that will follow them into adulthood. That, and it’s a very unique piece of content that any local business would love to sponsor. This program would be mostly suited for a local AM talker is a small town.
Here’s how easy it would be to do this…
1. Call To Action. Run a 30-second promo inviting members of your community to stop by your radio station to record a ghost story that they remember hearing as a kid. Something from camp, Boy/Girl Scouts, you get the idea. If nobody responds to the promo, then I would recommend taking a portable recorder down to the Old Folk’s Home and getting some of the geezers to tell you stories there. They would absolutely love it. Old people love to scare kids…
2. Production. Record each 5 or 10 minute “Ghost Story” in the prod room of your radio station. Produce it up with cool sound effects, or something as simple as a spooky music bed. Knock out an hours worth of these.
3. Execution. Promote the thing as a Friday or Saturday night special program that runs during the summer months. Make a big deal out of it by encouraging kids to camp out in their back yards with one of their dad’s old transistor radios. You know…after reading that last sentence, that may not be such a good idea! Just promote it as a show that kids should listen to with their parents.
This is a quick and easy program to slap together. It will be almost as easy to sell. Also, doesn’t this just sound like fun?
I was recently turned on to this great blog post from Matt Haughey (trust me, he knows his shit). He talks about real social marketing. It’s a good read for anyone looking to dip their toes into Twitter, etc. Here’s a taste:
“So maybe instead of getting your company on twitter, paying marketers to mention you are on twitter, and paying people to blog about your company, forget all that and just make awesome stuff that gets people excited about your products, hire people that represent the company well, and when your stuff is so awesome that friends share it with other friends, you may not even need “social media marketing” after all.”
This video is over eight minutes long, and that’s why I posted it on a Sunday. Every local radio station Owner/GM/PD should watch this immediately and take it to heart. Watch it to the very end. Yes, it started as marketing propaganda for Honda, but the concept applies to local radio now more than ever.
I say screw the tested, try the new. Evolve or die.
My all-time radio fantasy has yet to be realized. Someday, I’m going to provide insane radio coverage of a local Pinewood Derby. As far as I know, this has never been attempted…
Here’s how it’s gonna go. I’ll spend 4 solid hours in my production studio putting together over-the-top NASCAR style production and music beds: big voice guy, rock and roll, the works. Then I’m going to bring a portable recorder down to the local Pinewood Derby and spend hours interviewing every participant before the races begin. When they start, I’m going to scream, hoot, and hollar’ like DW on Sunday (at least for 5 seconds at a time).
This whole thing will be pre-recorded, so it won’t be much of a technical challenge to piece it into a one-hour special. Just a bit time consuming. When everything sounds proper, I’ll take it to the sales department and let them work their sleazy magic with local car dealers, etc. This special will be promoted 2-weeks in advance with an elaborate “count-down” promo airing every day. Hell, I’ll even make a video promo for the station’s YouTube channel. The suspense will be riveting. Any community would go absolutely crazy over something like this. Again…it’s the “something out of nothing” theory. This is how we have to operate now.
My scheme has only one discernible flaw: I’m not in local radio anymore. Is there a PD of a small market station that would like to run with this idea? If so, send me a Tweet and I’ll personally send you all of the production that you’ll need to pull this off. For free. Seriously. First one to reply wins.
Please help me realize my dream…
You know it’s true. You talk over the tail end of a song (that-was, coming-up, read-something-snarky) then fire off a stop set. Then something horrible happens: the under-paid production guy (or sales goon) starts reading a list of goods and services over “Track 35” of the Network Sounds music production CD that’s been sitting in your station’s basement since 1995. At that very moment you can hear every single one of your remaining listeners switching over to “Froggy 104.1,” Joplin’s only other place for “Today’s Best Country.”
Why not make your commercial breaks an oasis? Why not turn them into “mini shows?” It can be done, and here’s how…
Let’s say Bill of “Bill’s Bike Shop” wants to buy a few ads because the economy stinks and his business is in the shit. I’m sure Bill has a bunch of knowledge about how to get your bike ready for the upcoming spring riding season. Why not have Bill stop by the studio and record a “mini show” on how to “Springerize” your bike. A full 30-seconds of him simply conveying advice and knowledge on his expertise with a quick tag at the end. I’ll bet people would like to hear that, rather than some creep barking hype over a 15-year-old production track. I’ll bet that if every single one of your commercials sounded like this people would start to look forward to them because they might get something out of them.
Then–at the end of your break–you can jingle into your “Power Current” knowing that you have a few listeners left…
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…
The whole concept of the internet is that it’s interactive, constantly updating, and free. Blow up the “abandoned storefront” website that you most likely have (you know, the one with the flashing graphics and artist collage). Instead, start a blog and update it every day.
Your listenership is evaporating by the moment and the trick is to bring your content to where the people are going. You’re never going to be able to woo them back to the fortress, so travel outside your gates and find them.
Every local station can fire up these social networking tools for free today: Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Flickr (forget about low-rent Myspace). If you spend some time, you can link them all together so the feeds feed each other. I’ll show you how to do this for free if you’re interested.
This is obvious stuff but it’s surprising how many stations do not take advantage. Remember, you have to follow your listeners…you can’t expect them to follow you anymore.
Again…you can do all of this right now, for free.