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June 20, 2022 8:48 am  #1

When Radio Contests Go Wrong - Very Wrong

I found this article by a radio consultant pretty interesting. He outlines the disastrous consequences for stations when they haven't fully thought through their latest radio promotions and giveaways. Some of them are funny. Some are horrific. 

"WAKY/Louisville sponsored and presented the Wacky Ramblin’ Raft Race every spring. A race of homemade rafts on the Ohio River. We were surprised when someone drowned. We shouldn’t have been. People were duck taping plastic milk jugs together and using them as rafts.

"A morning talent at KSFM/Sacramento decided to live on a billboard until a certain pro team won a game to snap a losing streak. They fell off the billboard in the middle of the night and shattered both legs."

I seem to recall a CHUM contest (was it called "The Walking Man?") that went wildly awry in the station's early days. According to a 2007 Globe and Mail article, the contest involved finding the mysterious "Walking Man," who had money to give away to whoever could I.D. him. Chaos ensued.   

"CHUM's "Walking Man" giveaway promotion in 1959 drew 10,000 people to the streets and caused such chaos that CHUM apologized on air over an eight-hour period."

The Lawyers Ruined Radio


June 20, 2022 8:57 am  #2

Re: When Radio Contests Go Wrong - Very Wrong

Back in my college radio days some enterprising DJs would give away cigarettes as prizes - single cigarettes that they would leave in the prizewinners' mailboxes in the student union building. Management shut that down rather quickly.


June 20, 2022 10:23 am  #3

Re: When Radio Contests Go Wrong - Very Wrong

I once heard that the former AM CKMP radio in Midland-Penetang had a contest back in the 80's called "The Clutch-a-thon."  I don't know all of the details but apparently the station had a sporty new car set up downtown in front of the studios.  The contestant who placed their hand on the vehicle the longest would win the car.

I am not sure how you qualified for this, but at the beginning there were lots of CKMP listeners touching the car for hours and hours.  After time people would drop out and it was down to a very few.  Participants were allowed a bathroom break every few hours, but once you came back and your hand was touching the car, it had to remain.  If you stopped touching the car even for a second you were done.  

The contest was a disaster, with fights between contestants, people showing up drunk when the bars cleared out, citizens chirping and jeering at those taking part, police needed to be called in etc. The Clutch-a-thon was turning into more of a circus.   All the time CKMP had live reports and interviews with lucky contestants who were clutching the car. 

This went on for days before it was down to the final person.  Never heard if the Clutch-a-thon was ever tried again by CKMP. 

I know I have some of the details wrong, and if anyone knows anything more about CKMP's Clutch-a-thon promotion please give more info. 


June 21, 2022 11:20 pm  #4

Re: When Radio Contests Go Wrong - Very Wrong

Don't forget this one.  

The station was revoked from Entercom (now Audacy) and the frequency was auctioned off.  The station now at that frequency is owned by iHeart.