Radio is nothing without promotions. If you want drive revenue, create buzz and increase awareness, you simply can’t go past contests, promos and stunts.

The best thing about promotions is that a cleverly thought out idea doesn’t necessarily have to cost much, so it’s a perfect way for small stations on a budget to make a splash amongst its listeners, solidifying its brand identity.

The key to an effective radio promotion it to strike the balance between catering to your listeners interest and the people taking part in the promotion, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of your contestants, but always ask yourself ‘does this make good radio? How is this coming across to our listeners?

Great promotions experience a life far beyond just one station. Other stations in countries all over the world will pick up and adapt an idea to suit, some promotions have even been taken across to other media like television and used effectively.

Australasian radio has always been at the top of the game in innovative, exciting radio promotion. The following is a list of 40 of the best, internationally renowned promos to come out of the Antipodes for FM radio.

  • The Birthday Wheel. Sweet and simple, this easy to run promo consists of drawing a birthdate and inviting any listener with the matching birthdate to call in, the first one in wins the nominated prize. This is great as a daily contest and can be easily changed to fit any set of criteria required.
  • Who’s the Voice? Use your editing software to mash two singers voices or songs together and get your listeners to guess who they are for a cash prize.
  • A risky promo from BP&R, this consisted of a toss of the coin deciding on great gain or true loss, ie: winning a new car or having your current one crushed. This made truly gripping radio but could be equally as effective scaled back a bit.
  • Live in it to win it. Entrants had to stay in the car as long as possible; the last one left won the car. Similar to contests where contestants have to keep their hand on the car or kiss the car.
  • Millionaire in Mexico. One lucky listener scored a million pesos and a free trip to Mexico.
  • Pot of Shite. A talent show for the talentless. Listeners loved hearing people make idiots of themselves in this Gong Show style segment, the worse they were the better.
  • 48 parties in 48 hours. The presenters had to attend 48 parties over the space of one weekend and periodically report on how they were managing.
  • Moral Dilemma. Listeners ring in with their hairiest moral dilemmas and invite other listeners to weigh in with their opinions.
  • House from Hell. This iconic promo was the genesis for the Big Brother reality series. Selected listeners had to successfully live together in a house for a set period.
  • Bugg’d. Environmental audio would be given from a location where the bug was located. The first person to find it won the substantial cash prize.
  • Cunning Stunts. Crazy stunts performed each day, big and outrageous, dancing close to the legality line.
  • Bunch of Fives. In the morning a line-up of five songs is announced. When listeners hear those five songs in a row they ring in to win a cash prize.
  • Tall Ship Adventure. A famous Hamish and Andy promo to mark the launch of their show in Tasmania by sailing to Hobart.
  • Renovate your life. A classic competition where the winner could win a car, renovate the house or get a first class round the world flight ticket.
  • Rock Words. An on air crossword where the clues were given musically.
  • Battle of the Sexes. Men VS women in this fun game where each group were given questions about the opposite sex.
  • The Fugitive. A cryptic hunt for a person with a large cash prize, the winner is the first to crack the clues and locate the person.
  • Wedding Unplanners. The anti-wedding nightmare, this promo eroded the contestants dream wedding day by day. Hilarious and original.
  • Shoot the celebrity in the arse. A distinctly Aussie flavoured event where listeners could visit and literally shoot a famous person in the bum.
  • The triple that plays. Hear a specific three song combo and ring in to win cash.
  • Billboard of Cash. A lucrative contest where the entrant simply has to guess the dollar amount on the billboard in order to win it.
  • Beat the Bomb. Stop the bomb before it randomly blows, but time it right as the dollar prize value increases as the bomb ticks.
  • Not as racy as it sounds, the aim is to guess the sex of the next phone caller, get three in a row correct and win a cash prize.
  • Two strangers and a wedding. This very famous and highly criticised promo had two complete strangers marry a first sight. The strangers were picked by listeners who followed them through the whole saga.
  • Wrong Words. Remixing and recording popular songs as completely different genres or even poetry.
  • Million Dollar Head in the Sand. A day promo where listeners had to dig on the beach for a million dollar prize.
  • Gotcha Calls. A prank phone call segment which was famously cancelled after the tragic outcome of a gotcha prank at the King Edward VII hospital in 2012.
  • The Lie Detector. Another promo that came to an abrupt end after a serious incident, this segment consisted of contestants being hooked up to a lie detector and being asked a series of personal questions.
  • The Last Contest. An ultimate prize draw of amazing, not to be repeated extravagant prizes which created a huge amount of buzz.
  • Cash Call. An oldie but a goody. So successful it has now been used by TV morning shows.
  • Love Online. Started in the 90’s this was a promo run on the online dating model.
  • Pay Your Bills. A lucky listener gets their utility bills paid off.
  • The Celebrity Party. The station hosted an exclusive event with lots of celebrities; listeners could only attend by winning a ticket to the party.
  • Fifteen seconds of fame. The listener gets to showcase their talent for a brief period.
  • Caravan of Courage. A Hamish and Andy classic, a yearly road trip full of activity and fun for the listener to follow along with.
  • Radio Gladiators. Entrants could call in and talk about the days chosen topic, the caller with the best speech took home the prize.
  • Pop Quiz. Answer 10 questions about pop culture correctly in under a minute to win.
  • The Ultimate Ear Test. A very short audio snippet is played and if the caller can correctly pinpoint the original sound, then they win the prize.
  • The Million Dollar Cash Drop. Entrants made an exhilarating skydive onto a ground grid with the chance that their square contained the million dollar prize.
  • The $100,000 Wheelie Bin of Fortune. A wheelie bin filled with money was up for grabs, as long as the listener could guess what piece of junk was under the cash with just a few clues.

This is just of the few memorable, original or controversial promotions hosted on the air in Australasia in recent history. We are looking forward to seeing more innovative programming in the years to come.

Credit: Brad @ Radio Today

The 40 Greatest Promotions ever run on FM radio

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