Quality content so simple it's frightening

I experienced something so simple the other morning that brings value to advertisers, radio stations, audiences and communities and almost frightens me to even say it: great local over-the-air radio.

My normal “commute” to work was a little different that day: I found myself in the car for a good 45 minutes between driving my daughter to school and my dogs to daycare. In the spirit of breaking routine, I decided for a change to listen to Minneapolis’ 96.3 K-Twin“Quality Rock” of the Eighties and Nineties — think Jack-FM with personality.

Two of the three morning hosts are also personalities on the local KARE 11 TV news, so I thought I would check out their shtick.  I found myself staying tuned after a song leading into a commercial break because they teased a contest called “Wait a Minute, I Know That!” — an obvious rip-off of NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” which CRN has always cited as the type of quality on-air contesting that is very effective.

After the break, Chris from White Bear Lake called in to compete against co-host Eric Perkins. There was some wonderful banter between him and the hosts. They each got three multiple-choice questions based on pop culture. They both got two out of three correct, so they had to go to a tiebreaker which wasn’t going to happen until after the next commercial break.

I would guess many people did what I did, I stayed tuned! Why? It was engaging, fun and entertaining. It wasn’t complicated, the listener didn’t have to go to a website, tweet or post a photo on Facebook. All he had to do was call in, engage with the personalities and answer a couple of simple questions. What a concept.

Unfortunately, Chris from White Bear Lake lost, but he did get a consolation prize: the newly released CD from Brian Setzer. Do you know what he would’ve received if he had won?  A mug!

We sometimes make the world too complicated. Learning a new marketing term every day. Hopping on the bandwagon to trends we don’t fully understand. Integrate with this. Integrate with that.

We have research (coming soon) that confirms people like to enter fun contests and also listen in as other participants sweat it out. It was a wonderful 15-minute bit.  It was refreshing, validating and inspiring – even if the last thing I would have needed was another mug. The only thing missing was an opportunistic title sponsor to anchor the segment and deliver a corresponding spot to run alone during the break. Sometimes marketers try to outthink themselves. In those cases, they often wind up scratching their heads.

Patrick Leeney, a 24-year veteran of the broadcast business, is Vice President at CRN International and based in Minneapolis.