Paige Nienaber’s Midweek Idea Dump: Recruiting Your Intern Army


(By Paige Nienaber) When Rachel Geddes was the Promotion Director at WIOG in Saginaw, she ran one of the best intern programs in Radio. She didn’t just send emails or fliers to colleges, she went out and actively recruited starting in February. Why that early?

Because all the good ones would have secured other internships by the time most stations start their search in April.

I understand that companies have policies about interns and some stations don’t have the staff to manage the interns, but if you can have them, they can be an integral part of winning this Summer in the community.

I always went into Memorial Day weekend with 20 because you’ll lose five almost immediately for a variety of reasons. They thought it would be more fun. Or they discovered they could make $20,000 valeting cars at a strip club. (The primary reason no radio station in Las Vegas has ever had an intern. Seriously.)

We would have a dozen survivors when we reached the 4th and then the true attrition would begin when August hit, and we’d limp into Labor Day with three, who we would try to find paying gigs for.

Z102.9 in Cedar Rapids is another station with a great intern program and the Summer always ends with the team making videos about their experiences. They make it a fun summer for the kids and it comes across in the recaps.

Beata Murphy
Beata Murphy

Radio’s bullpen is pretty nonexistent in 2024, so stations like Z102.9 are growing their talent in the internship program. WiLD in Tampa was another example of a station where half the air staff began out on the streets, like Beata Murphy, now the PD at KIIS in LA.

So, if you can host interns for the Summer, you are automatically at an advantage over your competitors who can’t.

And now, on with the Dumpage.

Because Sometimes The Obvious, Isn’t

There’s a consultant with a weekly newsletter that will state things like, “Today is the day to go through your music and remove unpopular songs.”

As we head into tornado season in a lot of non-Southern markets, make sure the talent knows what to do and that all parts of the surveyed area are on the “Hit the button” list. I was working on a May Saturday a few years ago when the sirens went off. I went to the window and saw a funnel heading east and north about three miles away. Since it was past us, I grabbed the Paigettes, tried to chase it, and turned on three stations that I was working with… Music.

Ditto with Amber Alerts. If we’re going to have all these social media friends, fans, and followers, we can maybe do more than spam them with “Fifth Harmony’s breakup is causing fans to overeat!”

Y-94 in Fargo has the distinction of helping a listener find an organ donor and also end an Amber Alert in a positive way. There was one on Friday night in Oklahoma City and JJ Ryan was able to get it up (shut up) in ten minutes on three stations in two markets. 

He also has keywords in the system that will auto-post this kind of stuff. Just another thing that the talent should feel obligated to do.

Suite Spot

I took my daughters to a station show a couple of winters ago and we sat in a suite to watch it. They were blown away. FOOD. A bathroom. Jack and Coke. Cookies. This is the stuff we kind of are desensitized to.

One of the stations has a suite for a show that’s coming up. What if, the next time you have one of these, you do a Suite Spot? A commercial will run during a specific time frame and that’s the cue to call and win your way into the suite. And we know how much clients HATE us forcing listeners to listen all the way through stop sets.


If you think about it, most Radio contest methodologies can be traced to TV game shows. High/Low? From The Price Is Right. The Birthday Game is pretty much Monty Hall asking if anyone has cherry-flavored lipstick to get his contestants

Any kind of match-and-win, concentration game is a winner because you have to listen to track guesses, but also follow-on line.

Mother’s Day came out of the woodwork starting last week. You could do a grid of TV and movie moms. Match two Florence Hendersons and win. 

Misting Tents

A cluster has a community fest that pulls about 300,000 and didn’t want to just have a canopy, a table, and a prize wheel. They have an equal-sized space adjoining them to use too. And it will be hot.

The first misting tent I ever saw was at the California State Fair. It was about 2,000 degrees and people were packed under it. Honestly, the water barely made it down to head level before evaporating because it was so hot, but it was literally 20 degrees cooler under there.

There are a dozen varieties you can rent and this could easily be sold to a sponsor.

The next level was what a station did at the Minnesota State Fair a few years ago with a freezer truck and big rubber butcher shop curtains to keep the cold in. You could step in and get your core temp down to 150 and then step back out. It was brilliant and I think they got it from a grocery client.

Charging Stations

I was at the Beale Street Music Fest in 2018 and the station had a little fenced-in compound and because of their speakers and broadcast equipment, they had a power strip. People who had been there all day had devices that were low on juice and were passing their phones through the fence for a quick charge. I went to Home Depot, got two more strips and the next night there was a line of people waiting to get 5 minutes of charging. Some were actually getting frantic.

Joey Tack made and painted his own charging station in Knoxville using an old 8-foot promo table.

Forget prize wheels and shirts: people want juice. And you could sell/sponsor this for the entire summer.


There is one universal that we forget about: people pee. REM was right: Everybody Pees. And the portapotties at fests are funked up by noon.

When Michael O’Shea was at KUBE in Seattle they had their own, private, fenced-off Pottie just for winners. They dressed it up with a little white picket fence and inside they had a counter with mints and fragrances and a mirror like Planet Hollywood. 

You can overthink prizes, but give people a clean(ish) bathroom on a hot festival day and it’s Gold.

Say Yes, To The Dress

K92 in Roanoke did the prom dress sale/fundraiser last weekend. Look at the lines to get $25 dresses.

Random Dates

If you haven’t been to 2024 Holidays Daily Weekly Monthly by Brownielocks, go. Lots and lots of odd dates and celebrations that you could have fun with.

For instance, yesterday was Joe Day, so Joe from The Joe Show at ‘FLZ in Tampa honored himself by giving out cups of joe from Dunkin Donuts all day. Coincidentally, they’re the sponsor of his show.

Buffalo Wings. Literally.

To coincide with March Madness, Shredd and Ragan at 97 Rock in Buffalo are bracketing wings, sauces, and sides.

And A Best School Bracket

It’s back for 2024 at Hot 99.5 in DC where students, parents, and faculty can sound off and vote for the best school in the DMV.

Garden Stores

One of the agencies I work with has a garden center that sells seeds, tools…all the stuff for home and farm gardening.

In most markets, there’s a food shelf that will take produce. So, the idea that they’re pitching is this:

  • Use Radio to highlight the stats on the number of people currently needing food assistance.
  • Solicit groups (school, civic, religious) that would grow vegetables for the cause.
  • Get them set with seeds and mulch and other needs.

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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