Pop Quiz

See if you get this right…

Ok, this is easy…

I recently visited the web sites for WCBS-FM in NYC, KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, WGN in Chicago, KOIT in San Francisco, and KSCS-FM in Dallas.

I wanted this to be fair, so I picked different ownerships (in order: CBS, CC, Tribune, Entercom and Citadel) and different formats, although all are Top 5 stations in the Top 5  Radio markets in the United States.

All you have to do to win today is pick which station is giving away this prize:


‘Red Carpet access + Lower Level seating, to be a part of the 2009 Prime Time Emmy Awards Show, including “luxury” transportation to and from the live event at the  NOKIA Theater in Los Angeles.

An evening with the stars that may put you on television too and is guaranteed to be unforgettable.

I’ll help you.

It’s not KIIS-FM in LA, even though that’s their hometown, and Ryan Seacrest, their Morning Talent, will certainly be there.

And it’s not KSCS in Dallas, even though one could find ample evidence that Country music fans watch as many prime time TV shows as any other kinds of music fans and would love rubbing shoulders with other than just Country Music stars.


It’s a trick question.

The truth is, none of these dominant stations is giving away anything remotely as enticing as this prize package. WCBS is offering a 3-night trip to Aruba; KIIS-FM is giving away “a chance to win a Ford” — whatever that actually means; WGN, in the third largest market in America, is giving away tickets to Six Flags; I have no idea what KOIT is giving away — they force you to sign up for their loyal listener club to even see their prizes; and KSCS is giving away a trip to Sonoma and a tour of the wine country with James Otto.

If you don’t know who James Otto is, don’t feel lonely.

Starwood Hotels is giving away the evening where you can rub shoulders with real celebrities at the Emmy Awards Show.

There’s no question that in these tough economic times, almost any freebie that saves a family money will have takers. But there’s a huge difference in the perception of giving away tickets to Six Flags and giving away Red Carpet Access and seats among the stars at the televised Emmy Awards Show.

What happened to giving away dreams? What happened to giving away those things that money can’t buy?

Is this happening because station Promotion/Marketing Directors are actually mostly working for Sales, and Program Directors at individual stations don’t really get to pick contests and prizes anymore — the decisions are made at a corporate level and dictated to the local stations? Or, is this just one more case of taking the path of least resistance, of being a good “company guy” during the promotion meetings and shutting your pie hole so you don’t lose your job?

Either way, it’s not going to do much for Radio’s image as a thriving, creative, happening medium.

Think of it this way: Would Walt Disney settle for putting his name on any old run-of-the-mill amusement park?

People want pixie dust and magic when they dream, and Radio should always find ways to make dreams come true.

Oprah knows how to make dreams come true. Now would be a good time for Radio to remember where it stored its magic wands…