A Big Question
September 11, 2012
When it happened, I was working in New York at Z100. The radio station had studios in Jersey City at the time, right on the Hudson River and directly across from the former World Trade Center. The morning show, Elvis Duran and the Z Morning Zoo were watching from the 36th floor studios that morning as the tragedy unfolded and they reported it to the millions of people listening throughout the tri-state area.
It was a very sad but amazing time when radio took action and was able to show its community strength and immediacy. Z100 instantly became a voice for people to call in and share their sadness, concern, anger or whatever emotion they were feeling at the time. There were calls from children and families looking for loved ones, and the entire staff joined together to talk with listeners and help them get through one of the toughest periods in American history.
The promotion staff went to the boat docks where supplies were being shipped back and forth across the Hudson to Ground Zero. They brought any items we had, including T-shirts, snacks, water and anything we felt could be used in the effort. It wasn't long before the volunteers would relay what items were needed for workers through the station staff on-site and they would transmit it over the airwaves of Z100. Within minutes, the site was full of items: food, masks and beverages ... whatever the request may be.
Simply by having personalities asking listeners to help, people responded. The radio station staff, as most of us, was in shock and simply trying to do the right things to help our beloved city respond and get back on its feet.
A few weeks into the ordeal, as things were slowly settling back to whatever may be called normal after 9/11, the station found itself unsure of what to do. Patriotic songs filled the airwaves along with charity drives and constant news updates. We sat down and talked about what the next steps should be for the radio station.
- Do we worry about certain content or lyrics in the regular songs we play?
- Which patriotic songs should we play more of or less of?
- Should we start giving away prizes again like concert tickets, trips and other items?
- What about cash giveaways -- should the money go to the listener, the relief fund, or both?
We came up with several questions. We e-mailed the invitation to participate in our survey to 2,000 members of the database and we had them answer the questions. We had almost 100% participation from the group. The responses helped us to program and market the station again with no second guessing. It worked beautifully.
Asking questions can make you informed and educated and steer you through social, too. Obviously, it's rare to face the circumstances we did on 9/11, but just coming up with the right questions and getting the correct answers can help you make a social impact.
In remembrance of 9-11-01....
Reprint from Sammy Simpson's article "A Big Question" posted to All Access Music Group on September 6, 2011.