Uncle Paige's First Annual Treatise On Winter Storms
January 10, 2012
Pretty much everybody will deal with some kind of winter calamity. KSON/San Diego will undoubtedly deal with torrential rains and mudslides. Florida? Ice. Minnesota? Blizzards. And these events aren't like tornados and earthquakes; you usually have a day or two notice.
Have A Plan
Who will be the person designated to get down to the station and run stuff? As the employee who lived closest to WLOL, that fell on me.
You're going to want to have a plan for getting people down there. In Minny, I had a hookup with a cab company that would bump my DJs to the top of their priority list and could usually get them as close as Washington and 8th, leaving them to trudge three blocks through drifts.
The former Citadel in Detroit got the DVD morning show downtown the day before and moved them into a hotel across the street.
Go over all the auxiliary transmitter stuff at the next jock meeting.
We actually had a network through the local business associations and also did code words with all the school districts in 11 counties. Literally hundreds of thousands of people knew that we were the only music station that offered this info. Our numbers during storms exploded. You could just as easily snag the info off any of the local TV affiliates and do the list at TOH and also keep adding to the website and tweeting.
At the end of the day, this all that anyone cares about.
When Mark Zuckerberg was sitting around and had this idea for a social network, I don't think he envisioned it as a place where radio stations could spam their listeners with info about club gigs.
The three BEST applications of Facebook I've seen were in the past year during blizzards or ice storms when B96/Chicago, Radio Now 100.9/Indy and Y-94/Fargo used their FB page to connect and network with masses of people sharing a common experience. Great example: Jay Kruz from Rewind in Cincy posted, "Hey, who else has power" at 1 am and got something like 100 replies in minutes. Post, "Hey, don't forget to join me at The Spur for Ladies Night!" and see how many comments you get. In Fargo, they took New Year's Eve and did it online and in the studio when all the events and parties in town cancelled last year. There was booze, food and they posted photos of the DJs puckering up so you could have someone to kiss at midnight. It was huge.
Have Some Fun
Everyone is going to be stuck inside and hopefully some of them will be listening to you. If you are just tight, clinical, business as usual, well ... that's boring. Go outside in the parking lot and do the "cup of water thrown in the air" experiment and post it. Go and shovel the boss's parking spot full of snow. Shoot video of an intern sticking their tongue to a lightpole. On the air, maybe do a Between The Sheets music feature at midnight. Nothing but Barry White, Luther, Bolero ... we're not TELLING you to kanoodle, we're just acknowledging that it's happening, so we'll give you the mood music.
True story: I'm at my reunion and one of the most stunningly pretty women from my class comes up and starts to tell me about how, 23 years before, she and her roommates were all snowed in Uptown and were listening to the party we were having on the air and they called around and were trying to find a snowmobile so they could get down to join us. I could have lived a full and complete life without knowing that Jill was that close to coming down to hang out with me during a three-day snow-in. But what we were doing was so compelling, she felt like she HAD to be there. It was the clearly the biggest party in Minneapolis that night.
That? Is large. No one is going to be able to recall verbatim what you do Saturday night, 23 years from now, because every station in town will be at a club. We did something different and got remembered.
And Because The Bad Stuff Is Fun...
If the competition is stupid enough to have some untrained part-timer on the air, call them on the studio line (which you should have), announce that you're John David Stutts with (biggest employer in town), your codeword is "Snow Bird" and you want to cancel all shifts until further notice. I once cancelled all the schools in Houston. One call.
WPXY/Rochester and Dave Ryan in Minneapolis are two of the stations that have done this. What is the BEST prize you could give a listener after a blizzard? A plowed driveway. If you live in Minnesota or Michigan or Iowa or Illinois, you undoubtedly know someone with a plow on their pickup. It's amazing what some concert tickets will do when offered as an incentive to go out and do a few listeners' homes. You want to have a sign to stick in the drift at the end of the driveway that says something like "I Got Plowed With Brian & Chrissy!"