Paige Nienaber’s Midweek Idea Dump: How To Win Concerts


(By Paige Nienaber) The Art of Concert Dominance is a lost language. With so many stations throwing in the towel on having a presence at concerts, it feels like they’ve pulled the goalie and a motivated station could shoot on the net with impunity.

There are three main goals:

First, strategic placement of speakers. You want to paint the plaza with your sound and hopefully, you might ping a meter. If there are 18,000 people somewhere, anywhere, there might be a meter out there. Power in Atlanta got two at a Bruno show using this method.

KDWB Loves Gaga

Second, you want to be the first thing they see and the last thing that they see. So you should have a schematic for your venue that covers all the roads in and out, and then place vehicles and people to make these first and last impressions. I went to a Jimmy Buffett show in Jacksonville and the cab dropped me about four blocks away. My feet had barely hit the ground when the first Cox promo person came dashing up to welcome me to their show.

Lastly, you want “bodies.” Whoever has the most bodies will win. “But we don’t have bodies?!” A valid but not unique situation. If your company allows it, then use proxies, because there will be times when you’re going to want to field an army.

Hot in Ottawa used high school cheerleaders at a Rihanna show and had close to thirty people. The competition had two. Win, Hot. And they paid them with pizza.

Hot Promo Booth

‘QYK in Tampa used fifty fraternity guys at a Garth show. So, think outside of the traditional Promo person and you could be poised to deliver a soul-crushing beat down to your competition.

If you’d like to see my Concert Ownership Manual, shoot me an email at [email protected].

And now on with the Dumpage.

Group Contests

It’s a safe bet that 90% of my US clients will be doing these in the next, well, forever.

These can actually work but only if you get creative with them. Seriously, with the next round of these, go and listen to other markets and it will scare you straight. THEY ALL SOUND THE SAME. (Sometimes you HAVE to use caps). In Cleveland three years ago four stations were using “Free Money” and “$1000” in their names for the contests.

102 Jamz in Orlando? GOT actual damn numbers off these things. How? They repackaged them so they stood out and sounded like the station.

You need a character and/or a premise or it will just be another radio contest that 4% of people will play.

Win $1000 In Ceramic Cats…Or The Cash Equivalent     Done by ‘DJX in Louisville. Pulled the highest numbers in Alpha. Stream WDJX Win $1000 In Ceramic Cats 3 by cprpromo | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

What’s Local?   Jamz used The Berglunds in a lot of their contests. If you lived in Orlando, you knew them: a large pale family from Minnesota who drove an RV slowly. In Cincinnati? Maybe it would be a fish fry. In Minneapolis? Maybe an insane hockey mom as the voice/premise of the promotion.

Boss From Hell    KSFM in Sacramento and Jamz in Orlando have used bosses from Hell as the focus of their contests. Why were they giving away $1000 an hour? Because Craven had created ghost winners for fake contests and embezzled millions from the company and he needed to unload all the money or get sent off to the joint. I have copy.

Or Just Steal It    Like Jamzron, Steal It Before You Can Buy It, and Download The Dough, you don’t have a budget so you get money for contesting the old-fashioned way: you steal it.

Fun With Nigerians   Like Hot in Houston when they had organ thieves do their contest imaging, have an internet scammer offering to give away $1000 as a gesture of goodwill as you start the process of helping the royal family free up their seized funds.

WTF    Win Thousands Free, as done by Power 96.

What Ails You?    San Antonio and Denver used a doctor who wrote prescriptions of cash.

1-800-ASK-(Morning Guy)    This is on the table from a station where they would parody radio spots for insurance companies by offering instant $1000 settlements. Hangnail?? That’s a tragedy. A life-altering event that YOU DESERVE TO BE COMPENSATED FOR. Here’s $1000.

Cash….MAN!!!!!    Radio NEEDS a Marvel-like superhero. Bills and liens are powerless against…CASH MAN. Kind of like KSON and Gas Man in San Diego. Without Gas Man, it would have just been another gas giveaway. Kiss in Albany uses him as the character.

(Artists) Bucks    Much like one of the Country stations that got Brad Paisley to cut all of their imaging for when they “siphoned all the gas off his tour bus and gave it away in big red 10-gallon cans”. What if you got an artist’s ATM card? We’ve given away their cars, why not their money?

Free Money Gerbil    The Cash Cow has been milked to death in some markets. San Antonio had the Free Money Dog. Gerbils are Comedy Gold.

But first, listen around and you will truly understand why taking two minutes and creating a character and some premise around it will actually take it to the next level.

St. Patrick’s Accoutrement

March 17 has a different vibe in every market. Charlotte had maybe the lamest parade on the planet. Minneapolis has a parade in St. Paul and a parade in one of the suburbs. Poughkeepsie has a parade. San Francisco? It’s a drunkfest. Tampa? Ditto.

Chicago has a moderately ginormous event. Like, second to Dublin ginormous. So having a canopy and a prize wheel would suck.

If you’re looking for something to do out on the streets that day, well:

  • If Chicago can dye the river green, why couldn’t you go and WITH PERMISSION do some fountains around town? 
  • Or do a foam party but with green foam.
  • Night-time? A fog machine with green lasers and lights within the cloud gives it a Hollywood-like effect
  • At the end of the day, sidewalk chalking the area with logo’ed four-leaf clovers would be great. Templates can be either made or purchased through a number of vendors.
  • Can you get logo’ed stamps in the form of lips and with a green pad, and with people’s permission, stamp their cheeks at events?
  • Disney does the famous Hidden Mickeys. You could do that with four-leaf clovers around your event or on your site. Spot and report to win “stuff.”

March (Thing) Madness

B-96 has done March Ab-ness. And it was big. One of the stations did March Ticket Madness and awarded movie tickets and lottery tickets all month. WPGC regularly did March Music Madness and did a bracket of songs that were narrowed down to a winner.

In Seattle, KUBE actually got an insert in the daily paper that people could fill out with their predictions of who would win all the head-to-head music battles and what song would be the eventual winner. Or, and I love this, one of the iHeart stations is doing The Big Burger Bracket to determine who has the best burgers in town.

First Crack At Mother’s Day

You don’t really have to look much further than daytime TV to get all your Hallmark Holiday morning show ideas and themes. They’ve done all of our research for us. If “My teenage daughter is OUT OF CONTROL” didn’t work, they wouldn’t use it every five episodes.

I was at the Dallas airport and there was a mother with two kids who epitomized “My mom dresses too damn sexy!” The coat was alright I guess but the rest of the ensemble really was straight out of some Caballero Home Video from 1987. She was Roller Girl. Literally everyone was peeking or trying to snap pics of her. And her kids were trying to stand as far from her as they could. Lots of future therapy there.

Anywho, get a fashion consultant and hair, makeup, and clothing clients and do a makeover.

Listener Powered Radio

Or “LePeR”. It goes without saying that you will all have huge summer events. Annual concerts. Fairs. Fests. Things that people dial in and expect from your station. 

When Keke Luv was at 103.5 Kiss-FM in Boise he did the biggest “awareness” campaign in Radio. Huge. Monstrous. He would stay awake for four and a half days and broadcast. In 2017 he ran a marathon every day for five days. All to call attention to child abuse. It’s equal to Chet’s toy drive in Las Vegas in its mammothness (not a real word but it should be)

Because doing the same thing every time would be boring, they try to add a different element each year. The studio on the crane. And in 2018, listeners powered the broadcast by bike-generated electricity.

That’s a hook. If you can’t donate cash, then come and donate sweat and an hour of your life.

Phone & Social Media Juice

One of the morning shows was discussing men not wearing their wedding rings. That will light up the phones. Or, men who lost their wedding rings. How and where, and did your wife buy it? I think my wife believes I got rolled by a hooker in Tampa.

The Phrase That Pays

One of the big CHRs reached out about that contest and was inquiring as to an alternative. Their thought was that it had been done quite a few times AND by several other stations in town. 

The best alternative was The Paragraph That Pays which was a tongue-in-cheek contest done by KZIA that had listeners recite a thing off the site:

“Z-102.9 plays (whatever their position was) and because we’re not owned by a company that has 18,000 radio stations, all of the winners will be right here in Cedar Rapids. No smoke-and-mirrors and your chances of winning are better than getting hit by an asteroid, which is about what your chances are with the other station. Plus, Mo Holland has excellent hair.”

They changed the phrase every week. It was great.

Paige Nienaber insults/consults more than 100 radio stations on Fun ‘N Games (Marketing & Promotions). Find him at CPR Promotions. Read Paige’s Radio Ink archives here.


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