(By Larry Rosin) Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending, once again, the Country Cares Seminar for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. This annual event, held one week after their Promesa conference for Spanish radio stations that supports St. Jude, and a few months after the Celebration of Hope for Urban stations, brings together representatives of radio stations that promote the wonderful cause that is St. Jude through radiothons and other fundraising efforts.
Over the 30 years since Randy Owen of the country group Alabama and others conceived of Country Cares, the radio industry’s efforts on behalf of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have raised funds approaching a staggering one billion dollars. Of course, that alone marks a story of how deeply radio can touch the hearts of listeners and get people to spend when the cause is right.
However, this year there is even more to the story. Radio’s contributions to St. Jude are up dramatically this year, and the biggest reason is… a t-shirt.
The people at St. Jude conceived the notion of #ThisShirtSavesLives and created the t-shirt you see in the photograph. They have gotten dozens of celebrities to put on this cool t-shirt and then post the image to their social feeds. For this year’s radiothons, across all formats, if a listener pledges to give $20 per month, they get this t-shirt in return. So far, St. Jude has sent out 75,000 t-shirts, and their annual cycle of radiothons has a ways to go.
The point of this story should be rather clear – this is about as perfect proof that “radio works” as one can find. The next time a skeptical agency or client tells you that no one listens to the radio anymore, bring them down to a station running a radiothon for St. Jude, or those radio runs for any of the many other good causes that radio supports. They will see beehives of activity and phones ringing like crazy, and people showing that they are prepared to spend their money when sufficiently motivated.
So congrats to those stations who support St. Jude and other causes. You aren’t just raising money and making the world a better place. You aren’t just creating goodwill for your brands – goodwill that has been proven to raise ratings over the long haul. You are also proving with these efforts that radio remains a powerful medium for bringing messages to an enormous base of consumers who are prepared to act.
Larry Rosin, President of Edison Research.