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The Wacky World of Radio: Summer Promotions

How Radio Stations Promote Themselves (Satire/Humor)

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Wacky World of Radio Logo

Wacky World of Radio Logo

Graphic Credit: © Corey Deitz
When Radio was first born early last century, it immediately needed promotions for one simple reason: nobody had a radio. One of the earliest promotions was called Dancing with the Marconis.

Radio inventor, Guglielmo Marconi would invite various people to his workshop where a band played popular music while the guests were told to close their eyes and imagine they were listening to the beautiful music on the radio. Meanwhile, Marconi would dance with his wife, Kirstie Alley Marconi, and at the and of each number they would be scored by three judges: Nikolai Tesla, David Sarnoff, and Edwin H. Armstrong.

At the end of the night, Marconi offered radios for sale. It was basically the early 20th century's version of an Amway Distributorship.

We've come along way since Marconi's desperate sales techniques. Today, Radio has real promotions and summer time is often the time of year when so many favorites are foisted upon an unsuspecting public.

The "Bumper Sticker Death Van Promo"

Many stations love to give out bumper stickers and convince listeners to affix them to the back of their cars. While most of us don't mind having "FORD" engraved permanently in a panel of our truck we don't feel the same about displaying loudly colored paper billboards touting our favorite radio station. That's why, to bribe us, radio stations offer us prizes or money to put their ads on our cars. The typical bumper sticker promotion is a two step process. Step One is getting the stickers on vehicles. Step Two is making it look like the radio station is on the road 24/7 seeking out cars displaying stickers for the purpose of "prize awarding."

Often, to accomplish this a radio station will send a trusted professional. Someone like the part-time teenager known on the morning show as "Danger Boy". He will drive the station's vehicle and try to get the attention of drivers displaying the bumper sticker.

Nothing says fun more than being chased by a bucket of bolts that has a radio station name air brushed on the side of it. Rule #1: radio station vans are usually a tire-blowout-away from rear-ending an anonymous soccer mom and her two kids and causing a horrible, fiery crash.

Rule #2: It is generally a bad idea to kill off your listeners - even if there are free car wash coupons at stake. Remember: bumper stickers make you a target. Resist the temptation.

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