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What Listeners Will Do and Say to Win Radio Contests



Sully Erna from Godsmack

Grandma's Last Wish: To See Sully Erna from Godsmack

Photo: flipchip, lasvegasvegas.com. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license
Updated March 08, 2010
I used to think the "5 Stages of Death" represented what it's like for most listeners to try and win a radio contest:

  1. Denial: "Oh, I'll never win."
  2. Anger: "Darn! I can never get through when they ask for callers!"
  3. Bargaining: "I swear God if you let me win those tickets I will never put another tattoo near my genitals!"
  4. Depression: "My life would have been so great if only I could have been able to snap a camera pic of Rob Zombie. Now what."
  5. Acceptance: "Oh, I'll never win."

But, now I'm not sure if that model always applies. Let me tell you why.

The Three Stages of Contesting

The radio station I do mornings on is having a very large day-long concert in a couple of months. It's always a great show and each year we give away a substantial amount of free tickets to listeners.

The other morning we got into a conversation with a listener who was hoping to win and it suddenly occurred to me that we only have 3 stages that our listeners seem to go through when trying to win for this particular contest.

At first, contesters are very willing to listen and be the right caller but there's a certain amount of misplaced hopefulness. This is The Optimistic Stage.

People just come right out and ask for tickets for all sorts of reasons: "I'm unemployed", "I'm a nice guy", "I met you guys once, remember?", "I've been trying to win for years", "I'm getting married that day", and on and one. Granted, I could say they're all legitimate reasons to a point but all of our tickets are given away fairly over-the-air so everyone has the same chance to win. We don't play favorites.

But, as the event gets closer and chance for winning free tickets lessons, we move into the second phase of the pleas: The Medical Stage. This can be kind of sad, depending or not on whether one believes the stories are real. "My grandmother just found out she has cancer and really wants to go to the concert. It would mean the world to her."

Really? Your grandma is dying and her last wish is to meet Sully Erna from Godsmack?

Finally, we enter the most desperate point at which ticket-hungry listeners lose all self-control - The Sexual Favors Stage. At this point, the optimism is gone, grandma's plight is yesterday's news and the phone calls or emails or Facebook remarks come down to one desperate implicit solicit: offers from women with the oldest bartering chip known to mankind. Of course, we are professionals and could never possibly consent to anything so cheap and vile as trading concert tickets for sex.

It's wrong on all levels and that kind of moral fabric belongs in one place and one place only:


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