Current Issue:

Current Issue

On The Cover:
Cumulus Chairman Jeff Marcus

Click here to subscribe to Radio Ink.

Radio Ink Writers

Community Tells Radio Station Jock "You Are My Hero"

February 7, 2011 - Townsquare Radio Station Keeps Montana Zoo From Closing. Freezin for a Reason remote raises $45,000 for zoo as jock camps out in van for days raising money. Another great community Radio promotion.


On January 27th Zoo Montana officials asked Townsquare Media in Billings, MT. for a  meeting. The Zoos marketing director, Daniel Lundquist told Townsquare candidly the zoo may have to close. Forever. Its no accident that the call was made to Townsquare, to Radio. Because, this is what we thrive at.


Zoo Montana survives via private donations, not tax money, so creativity is the key. Zoo Montana has been a Billings staple for about 20 years, growing into a full fledge zoo over those years.  The grounds host weddings, parties for families and businesses and programs for kids. The date for a decision to close, based on the budge shortfall, was mid to late March. The zoo needed between $80,000 to $140,000 to stay open.


Townsquare Market Manager Jerry Butler, Director of Operations Ray Massie, Promotions Director Matt Brubaker Program Director Larry Wilson devised a plan.  Wilson, who also does an on-air shift, once did a promo called Freezin For a Reason to bring awareness to the Haiti tragedy. The idea was that no matter where in the world there is a tragedy, everybody can give back. The concept: sleep in the van, go on the air and try to rise money for a cause. And, keep in mind, Montana is not Florida.


The Townsquare staff agreed the zoo would be a great cause for another Freezin' For a Reason. It didnt take long before Wilson has many advertising partners bringing him food, a cot, a sleeping bag that could with stand the -30 wind chill temps and a small space heater. It was time to save the zoo.


Freezin For a Reason started February 1st at 5pm and ended February 4th at 5PM. Thats three days of sleeping in the van. Wilson had access to the zoo's  restroom facilities that also acted as a warming up station. All 3 nights Wilson  would last till about 3:30AM then would go in to warm up,


A goal of raising $36,000 was set. On day two Wilson had reached his goal. Money is still coming in. Wilson says Zoo Montana is excited that we got them about half way to their goal. He also says Ive been humbled since I went in, I feel I had a part in saving the zoo, but with the support from my staff and the Billings area really coming through we all made the difference and a huge dent so the zoo may remain open. Nothing is for sure until the end of March, but Zoo officials are very optimistic because of Freezin' For a Reason.


Kids were showing up donating 2 and 5 dollars, escorted by grandparents and parents. When the station received a $20,000 donation on day two there were a lot of tears! Wilson says the community has really embraced him and what Townsquare has done. People stop me on the street, or at the grocery store and say you are my hero" He says it feels good to make a difference.


Townsquare Market Manager Jerry Butler was beaming with pride about his team and Radio. I couldn't be more proud of Livin' Large Larry, our entire Townsquare Billings team and the community of listeners that pulled together and made this happen. This truly is the power of radio and the ability of our industry to be able to reach out with a call to action and touch people on a very personal level.  At Townsquare Billings, we are striving to live up to our name.  We are live, local and have a direct connection to the community to which we serve.


Check out more coverageof this great promotional idea: