Five Great Cash Giveaways

One of Our Functions Is to Provide an Escape Mechanism During Trying Times
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One of Our Functions Is to Provide an Escape Mechanism During Trying Times

When Wall Street fails … when unemployment spikes ... when skepticism about America's financial future prevails ... what should you do? Give away money!

But wait. Doesn't having a blast and flaunting great prizes seem callous while the economy heads south? Nope; it's important to remember that we are in the entertainment business. One of our functions is to provide an escape mechanism during trying times, so paint on your smile and see if these cash and prize giveaways can help you generate happiness and ratings for your radio station.

After all, it's your job to make sure your station is a winner.

  1. Put You on the Payroll: This is a great catchy title, perfect for our times. It's played a number of ways.
    My favorite is having listeners register on the station Web site or by sending an e-mail with their name and phone number. Call out a name every hour of the day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Give listeners a short window — perhaps five minutes — to call in and bump the current person off the payroll. If the next announced person doesn't call within the allotted time, the current winner remains on the payroll, earning whatever you want to pay per hour.
    You don't want to be too cheap, but it's not necessary to go too high — somewhere between $15 to 25 an hour is enough to keep things interesting. If you're working with a small budget, condense the hours of the contest from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
  2. Workman's Compensation: A wonderful moniker that can be utilized for a variety of contests. This doesn't even have to be about winning cash.
    The compensation can vary every hour if you want. One hour it could be a fill-up at a gas station; the next hour it could be an iTunes giftcard; the next could be the winner's weight in candy. One of the cool things about different prizes is that it's fun to keep listening to find out what's next. You can continue the contest over the weekend, or create promos that tease your prize for the following week: "Country 97.7's Worksman's Compensation is getting interesting next week! You could win 97 dollars in cash ... a lawnmower from Home Depot … Kenny Chesney concert tickets, or a 25-gallon fish tank with exotic fish from Lucy's Fish House. You deserve Workman's Compensation! Just listen 9 to 5 to Country 97.7."
    You'll notice I worked in a couple of client mentions for those sold into the contest, or for those who require mentions for their prizes.
  3. Name That Noise: Record a noise. No, not an easy noise! Find a noise that takes repeated listening to decipher. Every time someone can't "name that noise," the jackpot increases by 10 bucks. Play the game a lot. When it gets boring, give clues, or put the sound up on your Web site so people can listen to it over and over. If you're lucky, they'll have their friends try to guess it when they can't. Toss in a human voice once in awhile and have people "Name That Knucklehead."
  4. Green Web Site: Your Web site has gone green! The other green — the kind you can spend. Hide dollar bills on pages. Tell people to find them. When they find one, they click on it and it takes them to a registration page where they're entered in a daily drawing for whatever your frequency may be — like $105 for stations at 105.1.
  5. A Dollar a Holler: Give away a dollar a minute from 9 to 5. One winner each hour gets 60 bucks.
    "K94 is giving away a dollar a minute, every hour, from 9 to 5 today. It may not be a $300 billion bailout, but then again, we're not using your tax dollars to pay for this stupid contest. To win, listen every minute for this sound (ding). We may play it during songs and even commercials. Tell us how many we play in the hour, and the chump change is yours from K94." It may seem like you're giving away a ton of money, but any math genius can figure out that it's really $480 a day.

If you don't like any of these ideas, call your team together and brainstorm a bunch more.

When your friend asks you what you did at work, you get to tell them you tried to figure out how to give away money. It could be worse — you could be a stockbroker!

The author is president of Lapidus Media. Contact him at