Is Contesting Dated: Rebuttal

 In Blog

Last week’s blog on contesting drew a polarized response. We are not saying abandon contests; we advise radio stations to avoid designated caller and text contests that only engage the small percentage of listeners trying to win.

Instead, focus on listener-interactive games and contests that are so fun to play along with the prize does not matter. The result is potentially 100% of the audience is entertained.

Although there’s some evidence that contests players are the same type of people who carry meters and fill out diaries, reframe from letting contests take over your station at the expense of content.

Ultimately to create long-term loyalty, you want to be known for captivating content and compelling personalities.

DMR/Interactive President/COO, Andrew Curran respectfully took issue with our contest position, and he makes relevant points:

“I don’t disagree that most people won’t play any one contest, but that’s because getting most people to do much of anything is a fool’s errand.

It’s why the 80/20 rule exists. Small groups matter and that’s especially true of station audiences. Not all listeners are created equal.

Contesting and giving away prizes is part of the radio fabric and helps make it fun to listen to. Why would we ever abandon that expectation and familiarity when so many other aspects of radio are under attack and can be found elsewhere?

Here’s a quote from David Letterman in the publicity leading up to the brand-new U2 documentary on Disney+.

Letterman joked, “Recently, I won a radio contest. Winner gets to visit Dublin with Bono and The Edge.

The quote was thoroughly vetted and crafted by the marketing and PR teams, but they didn’t reference Spotify or podcasting. They specifically chose radio, while promoting a documentary being released on a streaming platform.

The best contesting should always provide great theater of the mind for listeners and be well executed by the talent, whether the giveaway is a major promotion or free movie passes.”

Email me with your thoughts at

Photo by Danny Howe on Unsplash

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