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Party for Fun … and Profit

To create a young, loyal following at your station, head to the local watering hole

How would you like to earn between $25,000–50,000 a year just by hanging out once a week for a few hours at a bar?

While this may sound like a line from one of those cheesy infomercials you see on late-night television, the reality is that if your station has young single people listening, you, too, can belly up to the bar.

While social media may be soaring, it still takes face-to-face time to generate action. That’s where you can deliver as the organizer, facilitator and promoter of weekly listener parties at your local watering holes.

It will take commitment from the sales and programming departments to sell and promote enough to drive attendance. I’ve seen events like this sell for as little as $500 and as much as $1,500 per party. It’s best to start low and drive the rate as attendance climbs over time.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/James Steidl These parties will initially be fun for your talent, but after four or five of them, compensation will be a key to keeping up the motivation. So, while it may be tempting to require your on-air talent to host these events as a routine part of their employment obligations, it’s only fair that as you make money, they make money.

When you raise the rates, try sliding in a talent fee of $150 that the client pays the DJ directly.

Some more advice: Be consistent. Give your party a name, so people know what to call it regardless of where it’s being held.

Set a regular time and day of the week for the social hour, so you cultivate some regular attendees. Thursday works well because it’s close enough to the weekend and people are more eager to go out and let loose. Successful bars don’t need any help on Friday and Saturday nights, so stay away from weekends.

Ideal time slots are 5-7 p.m. or 6-8 p.m. If you start later than 6 p.m., there’s too much of a gap between after-work and going home. Do your best to convince people to come directly from work. This will not only increase your attendance; it will increase the level of professionalism, since for the most part everyone will be better dressed.

The next thing you need is free munchies for people to snack on, since most will not have had dinner yet. While your sales people could be reluctant at first to ask the client to provide food on the house, the fact is that bars put out wings and similar items on a regular basis anyway.

Your clients know the Golden Rule of bartending: A snack layout gets people primed to drink more or to look at the menu for more substantial food options.

Theme parties are an excellent idea, particularly around holidays. The prizes you give away (and you should always have prizes) should match the theme. Example: “It’s 96 Rock’s weekly House Party and this Thursday, 6 to 8, we’re at Joe’s Crab Shack for a pre-Thanksgiving throw-down. The grand prize is a pair of autographed drum sticks from Weezer.”

At the bar, you will need access to a microphone and P.A. system, or you’ll have to bring your own. It doesn’t have to be huge, but must have the capability of allowing the crowd to hear your host welcome everyone and announce giveaway prizes or hold games every 20 minutes or so.

Don’t overdo the mic time, of course, but it’s important to connect with the crowd as a group as well as individually. You can also direct your talent to mingle and introduce themselves during their entire event.

Your on-air promotion should consist of a combination of live reads and recorded promos (included as part of the sales package). Make sure that at least 40 units run for five days before the party. Supplement this with Facebook posts and Tweets. Your website should contain the full details with a (working!) link to a map.

The bonus in throwing these parties is that you’ll drive a relationship with many listeners by making a regular personal connection. With a little free food, a few drinks, free prizes and increased station billing — everyone’s a winner at an after-work party. Cheers!