(By Trey Stafford) Good radio stations make impacts in their markets every day. Helping clients succeed. Impacting the lives of listeners who listen.
Last Friday, for the 21st consecutive year, we took that impact to a high level in Jonesboro. We turned our radio facility at 314 Union Street in Jonesboro, Arkansas, into a Make A Wish shrine. We used our six radio stations, we partnered with our local television ABC/NBC affiliate KAIT-TV (Grey), we utilized a volunteer army consisting of hundreds of people, and we raised $374,556.43. To date, we have raised almost six million dollars for Make A Wish.
Selfishly? We accumulated some sponsorship and ad revenue attributed to the event. Moreover, we shoveled more moist, fertile, rich community service image and reputation onto a tall pile that already exists. The event is the talk of the town, the subject of many conversations happening in multiple counties. People consider this their event, and they all rejoice in its success.
Now that the event is over, we will celebrate the success with a “post-promo” that our production director, John Guidry, had on the air on all six stations less than an hour following the event. Then, for the months to come, Make A Wish will notify us when a wish is being granted in our area. We cover and talk about that granted wish, which continues to “sell” to our listeners that they made a difference back on February 15 when they put money into a black bucket at a road block, or gave to a school fundraiser, or called to make a pledge. They continue to hear reminders and examples of how their money made a difference.
For one day, all of our key players work like there’s no tomorrow. Christie Matthews is our team leader for the event, after bringing us the idea more than 21 years ago. Christie and I split the day on the radio. I am on from 5 a.m. til 10 a.m. Christie is on from 10 a.m. til 4 p.m. Then I come back on from 4 p.m. til 7 p.m. to bring it all home. When Christie isn’t on the air, she’s organizing and running the event. In between my shifts, I try to personally visit as many of our 17 roadblocks staffed by volunteers in cities all around our coverage area as I can – this year standing out in clouds, cold, wind, and rain – to thank them for helping us. Jim Frigo, my morning show partner, spends seven hours of the day at “his” roadblock, then travels with me and KAIT-TV VP/General Manager Hatton Weeks during the middle of the day to the other roadblocks. Other on-air talent, Phil Jamison, Tom Scott, Leisa Rae, all do extra hours of on-air work, doing their normal live shifts and doing shifts on other stations they normally voice-track LIVE so that we can interview the dozens of wish kids, school kids raising money, and other community leaders and businesses who bring money they have donated. (Rob West, fresh back from Country Radio Seminar, had pneumonia and was out of the limelight during the day, although he was present and helping in the background.)
Then, on Saturday, you wake up, exhausted from the day before, and you are filled with satisfaction that, yes you, with your radio career, still matter. You are still relevant. You can still impact and affect a community with an invention, radio, created over a hundred years ago.