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Live Day: The Past Meets the Future

KISW goes back to radio’s roots with annual event

“We broadcast live not because we have to, but because we want to!”

I have heard this sentiment expressed a number of times this year. Remarkably, several of these comments came from small-market radio stations, where one would think this would create a financial burden.

In a voice-tracking world, in which every break is perfect, what’s so great about live broadcasting?

Let’s start with the unpredictable excitement of live broadcasts. It sounds real, partly because real people make mistakes, but also because live, extemporaneous speaking invariably comes with greater emotion.

With real-time, when something happens, there’s no delay for breaking news, weather or traffic. You don’t need to hear it from me … if you’re bothering to read this, you already know how wonderful live radio can be.

But let’s go beyond either a syndicated or local live morning show and check out a special event that takes live radio to the next level. Even voice-tracked stations can pull this off once or twice a year!


I was so excited to hear about KISW(FM)’s third-annual “Live Day.”

During this event, the Entercom Seattle station’s morning and afternoon shows, “BJ & Migs” and “The Men’s Room,” perform everything at Emerald Queen Casino.

And when KISW says “live,” they really mean it. Nothing recorded will be used on-air for the shows. This includes live commercials with sound effects and accompaniment from local musicians.

According to KISW VP of Programming Dave Richards, “Doing two full shows completely live clearly wasn’t enough of a challenge for KISW. This year, we’ll take ‘Live Day’ to a full-stage production in front of a live audience.”

This year’s event is Nov. 16. If you’re in the Seattle area, check out to score tickets of your own and see what it’s about, first-hand.

Success breeds more success, and it’s so cool to see that a valuable product like this have a price tag. Attendance costs $99.99 for a “premium experience,” which includes a seat near the stage and a breakfast and lunch buffet. General admission tickets are $35.

Aside from generating some cash, this cost gives the tickets value. When the station gives them away as prizes on-air, through their website and on social media, those tickets are just about guaranteed to be used and very likely to be water cooler talk among friends and family of lucky attendees.

I had the good fortune of doing several of “all live” broadcasts over the years, and I can tell you firsthand that the “feel-good” it provides for your own staff is amazing. It energizes everyone involved — from on-air talent to event staff, to the sales people who bring their happy clients.

I do suggest you tie in a charity to help you get the word out and also to accept some of the money you generate — or receive in-kind donations from attendees, such as canned goods for a food bank or outerwear for a winter coat drive. During your first outing, I recommend charging either a very low price or keep it free. You have to generate buzz over time with this one.

Is there a bigger idea here? Of course, there is! It gets back to my original plea for more live, local radio.

If you’ve got a live morning show, consider tackling afternoons next. Or maybe add a few more live shows on the weekend. Do the math and figure out how you can push the envelope to get back into the live entertainment game.

With Spotify, Pandora and others providing cheap or free on-demand listening, how can you compete? The answer may be easier than you think!