Ideas Don't Have to Be Original
February 11, 2013
All is fair in love and radio. Air wave promotional battles can produce a ratings stalemate and anxiety for an opponent. Unless it was copyrighted, I would sometimes steal another stations promotion without even changing the name of it. And execute it better then they did.
You do not have to reinvent the wheel to come up with an on-air promotional idea. It is how well it is executed, that's all that matters. Taking ownership of a competitor's promotion will cause listener confusion, cume duplication, and drive your cross town rival crazy. The key to putting the promotion in motion is to add a significant payoff to their original idea.
Truthfully, I would only do this if my station was trailing our competitor in the ratings and if it was a great idea. And yes, it worked every time and always allowed my station to eventually pull even with the competition. A word of warning: Whatever market I was in, there was always a spirited discussion with the general manager, sales manager, promotions, consultant, and some of the jocks before I could execute my plan.
Sometimes a spy can come in handy. Years ago at a station I was programming I found out there was an insomniac female listener who loved talking to my overnight jock and the competitors as well. Fortunately she happened to be a friend of our receptionist and a huge fan of our station. One day while she was visiting, I struck up a conversation and discovered the other station's overnighter would tell her about upcoming promotions. She casually mentioned a contest my competitor was going to start airing. Of course I wanted as much detail as possible, so I gave her some questions to ask and instructed my jocks to never reveal contest information to anyone outside our station. Ha ha ... I got the other PD's contest on our air before he could, and soon after, I did it again with another contest. The crosstown programmer got so paranoid he stopped handing out contest memos to his jocks! For a long time after that, I resorted to verbally explaining contests to my air staff.
The Product is The Music and You
Always remember, the product you're selling to the audience is the format and you. The objective is play music, talk about the music, provide information, giveaway a few items, and make things a little less hum drum. Doing your homework or show prep is the key to concise verbal content. Then you have to be an actor and make an emotional connection with the listener. Consider this, in music radio, outside of mornings, there are only two breaks an hour at most stations. Therefore, over prepare; know the artists, music, and your town. There are timeless and timely bits of information you can collect and access quickly with your computer, iPad, or smartphone. You could also do it the old school way and keep what is needed in a card file.