Radio Goes to the Movies

This inter-media connection is all about capitalizing on fun
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This inter-media connection is all about capitalizing on fun

The pulse of our modern media culture started booming in the 1920s when radio was born and movie theaters brought national audiences together like never before.

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“Ghostbusters”/Columbia Pictures The longstanding relationship between radio and the movies is a natural, with each providing unique entertainment value and easily playing off the other.

How can the movies help you entertain and grow your listening audience? Let’s focus the projector on this frenzy of opportunity.

People love to talk about movies, especially new releases. Consider a few potential summer blockbusters that are sure to provide good hooks. It will become obvious as to why audiences will want to engage with your station when these flicks are the subject of discussion.


After a 10-year gap, Pixar releases “Finding Dory,” the sequel to “Finding Nemo,” on June 17. This one picks up six months after the last story line. This will be a must-see for little kids with their parents — but don’t be surprised to see teenagers or early 20s crowds there who want to feel young again.

On July 1, the screen adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The BFG” finally arrives. Talk of Hollywood’s efforts to produce it goes back to the 1990s, and anticipation is big for the fan base. Again, even the older millennials may crave a throwback to their childhood escape into Dahl’s fantastical world.

Who ya gonna call? After a cultural evolution of 30 years, the “Ghostbusters” remake hits the screens July 15. Will Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy be better than the originals?

And July 29, people will flock to see Matt Damon return as the larger-than-life Jason Bourne.

This is just a small taste of what’s in store this summer.

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How can radio get in on the action? Here’s one idea you can execute with one theater or a chain: Have your morning show host your city’s first showing or regional premiere of “Finding Dory” (or a much-anticipated movie of your choice) early in the morning.

I’m talking 7:30 a.m., a time when theaters are usually closed. Yes, the kids are up. The parents are awake. They will be thrilled. If you can get the movie company or theater to do this for free, more power to you. If not, buy out a movie theater — or two or more — and then give the tickets away for two weeks before your big day.

Maybe do your morning show from the movie theater. Alert the media and invite a TV show to broadcast from there as well. (No TV morning show can resist talking to little kids and their parents about such a hot property. Did you like it? What was your favorite part? Who is your favorite character? How does it feel to see a movie so early in the morning?)

The buzz you will create with families will be off the charts. How do I know this will succeed? I did this type of promotion for a Harry Potter movie once, and even though Daniel Radcliffe is now 27, people still remind me about it.

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“Independence Day: Resurgence”/20th Centrury Fox

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“Jason Bourne”/Universal Could you get one of the movie stars, even someone with a minor role, to show up? Get a closeup. Interview the stars of the movies and let locals ask a few questions to add color. While not usually open to interviews, even big stars have to promote movies. No, you won’t get them all, and large markets have it easier than small towns; but you won’t get anybody if you don’t try. If you can’t get anyone, maybe you can use an interview that’s been done already and cut out sound bites you can play.

Don’t be afraid to ask “Can we have that?” Sometimes studios will give scripts, props, action figures, or at the least, movie posters, to radio stations. If you’re not willing to ask the production studios, try your local movie theaters for posters, or ask local toy stores for those cute movie toys. They may want some on-air promotion in exchange.

Speaking of which, how about a partnership? Can you find a movie theater or chain in your city that will show a short spot — maybe a 15-second commercial about your radio station or morning show — in exchange for a bank of commercials? This is a good idea year-round if you’re able; if not, the summer blockbuster season is a great time to give it a shot.

As part of the deal, will the theater also play your radio station before and after the movies are shown? A great way to do this is to make playlists with a DJ’s voice-track and all the trimmings. Sounds just like the “real” thing but it’s predictable, focused and commercial-free!

This movie-radio connection is all about fun. But if these ideas aren’t for you, do your own dreaming big about other possibilities. Free popcorn for everyone? It’s so simple, it just might do the trick!