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REACTING TO A COMPETITOR’S MISLEADING RADIO CONTEST, Part Two

If you missed yesterday’s explanation of the situation, scroll down to yesterday’s posting first…

For the faked winner phone call, I’d explain to my audience, truthfully, what the other station did. In fact, I’d go one better: I’d call the “winner” from the national contest.

First, I’d get permission to record the call; I wouldn’t want this to backfire on me. And I’d end up airing a call like this:

ME: Hello, is this Edwina Richter?

WINNER: Yes, it is.

ME: I’m calling from WXXX radio, and I understand you’re a big fan of WZZZ.

WINNER: Who?

ME: WZZZ.

WINNER: I’m sorry, but I’ve never heard of WZZZ.

ME: But… Didn’t you win their big contest?

WINNER: On WZZZ? No…

ME: But they played your voice on WZZZ in Jackson, Mississippi, and you were talking about how excited you were to have won!

WINNER: Well, I did win $5,000 on WAAA in New York City, but I’ve never heard of WZZZ in Jackson, Mississippi.

ME: You’re kidding!

WINNER: No….

ME: Well, let me ask you something, Edwina. If I told you that WZZZ Radio in Jackson, Mississippi, has been playing your voice on the air and telling everyone in Jackson that you won their contest, would you be surprised?

WINNER: I sure would!

ME: And if you found out that WZZZ Radio in Jackson, Mississippi, has been trying to make it sound like you live in Jackson and listen to WZZZ, what would you think of them?

WINNER: I’d think they’re liars.

Things You Should Not Do:

1. Record even a single word of such a call before first receiving permission to do so. (You can always coach the winner, if necessary, after you get permission to record.)

2. Air the call without first getting (and recording) the winner’s permission to do so.

3. Air the winning call that you taped from the competing radio station, to illustrate their duplicity. This would constitute an illegal rebroadcast of another station’s signal, and if that station files a complaint then you’ll end paying a fine.

Tomorrow: The gloves really come off….

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  • Sandy Weaver Carman November 26, 2008, 6:45 am

    Oh, I can’t wait until tomorrow’s blog…give us a hint, would you, Dan?? 😀 This has been awfully good stuff so far, and I’ve been at stations on both sides of that particular dilemma.

  • Craig Letawsky November 26, 2008, 6:53 am

    Hmmm. Love your stuff Dan. Enjoying The Infinite Dial. Seems to me though negative attack ads didn’t help John McCain and they won’t help the station. Though this is fun for radio people and the 500 people in the market that would care, the rest of the listeners either wouldn’t get it or will be turned off by the petty fight. In my opinion, radio is an escape. No matter the format, people use radio to transport themselves to some other place or time. While engaged with the radio they forget what is happening in their lives. People have too much pettiness in their own lives to have to stomache it on the radio. I know, spoken like a true Canadian. Thanks for your thought provoking blog.

  • Dan O’Day November 26, 2008, 11:32 am

    @ Craig:I’ve never been a proponent of attacking the competition, either on or off the airwaves.

    In this particular case, it’s a small station in a small market, competing with a corporately-owned station with much bigger resources…that is lying to the audience.

    That lie is giving an unfair advantage to the corporate station. The local station is trying to create fun and excitement by actually giving away $94 a day, while the corporate station is falsely claiming to give away $5,000 a day.

    $5,000 per day vs. $94 per day is a pretty lopsided advantage — if it were true. But it’s not. And in this case, the “big” station crossed a line by faking a winner’s call to trick people into thinking the local jock gave away that big money.

    I agree that audiences don’t care about (or for) petty, competitive sniping. But the story line here is not, “We’re great, and they suck.” The story is, “Hey! Some huge corporation is using a radio station right here in Jackson to scam us!”

    That’s something the audience is likely to be interested in and to react negatively to, with the negativity attaching to the cheating station.

    It’s also something the local newspaper probably would love to jump on — to the deserved public humiliation of the cheating station.

    Re: THE INFINITE DIAL (http://www.danoday.com/infinite) — Glad you’re enjoying it. I’m not sure people believe me when I say it’s the most important radio book of the 21st Century. But the industry is facing a massive market change — and an awful lot of “head in the sand” radio people are going to find themselves dazed, demoralized and looking for a new line of work.

  • Dan O’Day November 26, 2008, 11:34 am

    @ Sandy: The only hint I can give you is it’s ironic that it will appear on the warm, kindly holiday of Thanksgiving.

  • Chris November 26, 2008, 3:15 pm

    Is this sort of thing common in the radio industry?

  • Craig Letawsky November 26, 2008, 3:50 pm

    Thanks for the answer Dan. I wonder if the outting might be better served on the station’s website though? Maybe an on-air teaser, “The big lie behind those $5000 contests on line now at http://www.wxxx.com.” Might as well keep the airwaves clean and drive some web traffic while you are at it! You can also get into much more detail including the interview with the New York winner etc etc. Hey I am getting into this now.

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