Paige Nienaber’s Midweek Idea Dump: Maximalism Is More


(By Paige Nienaber) I always hated “Less Is More.” Radio is not about minimalism. It’s about maximalism. But less can sound like more. “How is that?!”, you ask incredulously. By using semantics.

I’ve already written about numbering promotions, like “Rock The Globe Flyaway #17.” It allows you to post-promote and get credit for previous contests.

But the ultimate example of taking something and making it sound way way bigger was The Last Contest at KCBQ in San Diego. They had $10,000 to play with and created hundreds of prize packs out of it. They just sat down and brainstormed, “What could we buy with ten thousand bucks?”

The appointment times were to hear another prize pack announced and the prize descriptions were the sexiest presentation of prizes ever. It wasn’t “Prize Pack #217 – a cherry red Corvette.” Nah. It was “Prize Pack #217 – you’re driving down Adams Avenue, the wind in your hair, your radio blasting KCBQ. Life pauses. Heads turn. Jaws drop. All turn to stare at you in your brand new cherry red Corvette.”

I was at Beasley in Philly and The Last Contest came up and Joe Bell, without pausing said, “Prize Pack #179 – win thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands in cash.

When they finally played the cue, phone service to 30% of San Diego was disrupted and the lucky caller got to choose their prize. They took $10,000 and made it sound like fifty million.

Last Prize Standing is similar. You take a couple of thousand and create a dial position number of highly creative prize packs. Have fun. Do “The Hank Hill: a new lawn mower and 100 rolls of sod.”

Sadly I did see a station screw this up and it was “A $3,000 gift card to Lowes”, “A $3,000 gift card to Exxon”, “A $3,000 gift card to Kohls”…

And now on with the Dumpage.

The Prize Pinata

Cinco is on Sunday so this could be a weekend theme or something for Friday morning. Power 96 in Miami had a variety of concert tix, so these were inserted into inexpensive flea market pinatas and numbered and hung from the ceiling of the studio. You called, you picked a pinata, the DJ smashed it and told you what you won.

Also done as the Human Pinata at an event.

And Ryan Smetzer at Live in Hagerstown did it virtually in 2020.

What Would Bob Barker Do?

This, if he had a trip to see Taylor Swift in Paris. From Q-102 in Cincy.

This Is How You Do It

A trip to see Taylor Swift in London is an above-average prize. A 6 or 7 out of 10. So it kind of puts the pressure on the station to award it in a way that fits how big of a prize that it is. Hot 99.1 ambushed their winner at her home. And file #premoon for a future promotion.


We were talking about proms and how to acknowledge them. For me? Now? Prom is a bragging right because I seriously outkicked the coverage both times. No matter how awful my life may be, I can remind my friends that Rene Foss was stupid enough to go out with me for one night. 

What if you did a retro beauty pageant on social media and found a guy and a woman who had the most smoking arm candy ever, albeit 20 or 30 years ago? Almost like “Who Wore It Best.” Old school pictures are about 40% of Facebook content so it would be difficult to screw this up.


We have all done versions of “People’s Court” and as Rick Dees would say, “It’s…..amaziiiiiing.”

Time will affect memories and years down the line, parents, kids, and sibs will have differing versions of holiday incidents and other events. If you were to ask my mom about the time she spun out on black ice at Lake Mille Lacs on Christmas Eve, or the time that she got pulled over for speeding after picking me up after Kindergarten, she would be horrified and deny it to everyone listening. “Rubbish! I’m an excellent driver!”

So, what if you tested memories on the 12th before the Mother’s Day weekend and let the audience decide who has the more accurate version of the event?

Mother Huggers

Ah… promotions that sound like…

This is from BEN-FM in Philly where they were giving away Journey tickets to people who shared photos of them hugging their moms.


A great name, from a Beasley station that is getting ready to launch an event for Mother’s Day weekend: they’re going to have people making charcuterie boards while sipping mimosa’s.

Underwhelming Achievements

A weekly feature at JACK in London, Ontario where listeners are rewarded with flowers for doing things like replacing the toilet paper roll or doing the laundry.

Kate University

A Promotion Director is kind of like a campaign manager in politics: their job is to get the talent in front of as many potential listeners as possible and create Quality Time. It’s hard to beat a talent who has met and had great positive experiences with listeners.

Kate McGwire at Mix in Boise was one of the all-time great morning hosts. Funny, nice, funny, friendly, funny, and just a ball to hang out with. So, Monchai worked overtime to connect her with people. To meet Kate was to love Kate.

And they created Kate University. It even had its own crest and fight song.

Every month she’d go out and do something that she’d never done before, with a small group of listeners who also had never gone skeet shooting, played laser tag, gone indoor skydiving, seen male strippers, or played blackjack at a casino.

So, emerging, slowly from the last year, what if your talent decided to take up something new:

  • Golfing
  • Biking
  • Water skiing
  • Grilling

Whatever outdoor activity might be specific to the market. Why? Because nothing will ever beat a personal connection.

We did the Kate Thing with Cassiday in Charlotte. Her first new experience? She’d never eaten at Burger King so with BK on board, she had her first Whopper and 20 or so listeners who (claimed to have) never experienced the sheer joy of a Burger King meal joined her. She (BK) paid for it. It was huge. And then the consultant canceled the campaign. 


A station has a very nice diamond to give away in June and in the past has done a wedding at the client and various other promotions.

“Blingo” would be a one-day photo scavenger hunt originating at the client. Meet there and at a set time, everyone gets a 25 square bingo card. Each spot on the grid has something to take a photo of, ie: “A dog with a bandana on it”. Shoot pics of five things/places/people that make a straight line, and be the first to return to the client to win.

Dorm Raiders

This has been a traditional promotion for CHRs during finals week: you go out to dorms during finals week and drop off energy drinks and pizza and coffee and whatever else you can scrounge up. Kiss in Albany is doing it with Dunkin’ Donuts.

The “Somehow I Missed It Film Fest” In Theater C

When Cities 97 started doing acoustic shows at the station circa 2000, they did them in the conference room which they dressed up by calling it “Studio C.”

So what if once a month, after work, you did a free screening of a movie that one of the morning show crew has never seen, and invited all of the other listeners who have somehow missed it? I tested, “What movie did everyone else see but you didn’t?” on Facespace over the weekend and it killed. And a LOT of people never saw Titanic.

Movies are the entertainment universal and honestly, it’s just an excuse to hang out and eat popcorn with a dozen listeners.

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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