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Radio — Red, White & Blue

Patriotism makes your station stand out — and stand up for the troops

Veterans are honored at the Salute to Veterans at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Photos courtesy USO I wasn’t sure if I’d gone a bit too far when I had a radio station logo created to look like an American flag.

I was attempting to express a country radio station’s patriotic commitment during a time when the United States was escalating involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The staff reaction was mixed, so I tested it utilizing a few dozen intercepts at a local mall.

Listeners got it right away and were excited about the look and the way it tied their favorite radio station to their American pride.

The logo turned out to be more than just a radio station symbol. That American flag-like design ignited an entire on-air and event strategy, during which I learned how important a role patriotism plays in unifying our audiences and nation.


Does your radio station take a cultural stand on patriotism? This theme is no doubt more important in some cities and works better for specific formats or station personalities. But if harnessed properly, it can be beneficial in creating commonality for your specific station and the USA as a whole, which is a good thing.

More than ever, our troops and veterans need assistance and recognition. As an industry, we’ve already made a significant contribution, but each year it’s important that we rethink our approach and make a renewed effort. With 2015 around the corner, please consider what you’ve done and what more you can do to help.

There are many worthy local and national organizations that need radio’s help for publicity and fundraising.

For one, I’ve found the USO easy to work with and highly effective in its outreach efforts. They have numerous regional offices and programs and would be thrilled to hear from you, happy to go through their calendar to identify events you might be willing to support.

Or perhaps you’d be more interested in connecting with a local wounded veterans’ organization. Typically, these small nonprofits need assistance recruiting volunteers to help the vets with tasks like driving to appointments or fixing up housing.


The common thread is financial need. A good time to do a military related fundraiser is right before any major holiday — either secular or religious. Consider a day of “pay for play,” where you play songs for people who will donate to the cause. (It’s okay to have multiple people pay for the same song to be aired and then thank each of them for making the donation.)

The USO hosts a pizza part for troops at Fort Meade. According to a study conducted by Feeding America, food insecurity for troops and veterans now hits 25 percent of the nation’s active duty and reservists.

Consider trying to fill up a moving van at a shopping center with canned food donations, or do a door-to-door pickup using community volunteers. Sometimes it’s easier to get people to donate food than cash.

Emotional and moral support is also appreciated. Do you have a plan using sound to recognize troops and vets on-air? Perhaps you can obtain a list of local vets in your area and welcome them back, thanking them for their service. Can you obtain recordings of troops from your area saying hello to family and friends from overseas or from postings in other parts of the USA? On major American holidays, a few times a day, it may well be appropriate for your station to air the national anthem with copy thanking all those who serve.

Are there clients in your city with a special interest in offering discounts to current or former military service members? Perhaps your market has a baseball club, a chain of movie theaters or a theme park that will offer free admission for military families on Veterans Day or another random day if you promote it for free.

Those who really want to crank it up a notch could benefit from a listener advisory panel of veterans who can help to inform your approach with ideas, contacts and execution.

We don’t often think of it, but nearly every one of us has or has had a family member or close friend in the military. The emotional bond to the military exists in most people; we just have to help transform those positive feelings into action.

The author is president of Lapidus Media and a longtime contributor. Find more of his Promo Power column