(click thumbnail)JC DouglasThis is one in a series of special reports for "Survival Guide 2: Radio's New Media Leaders," a supplement to the Sept. 24, 2008 issue.
A key element of an effective new media strategy is driving listeners to your Web site, and by extension, to your radio station.
Mindful of this, Halifax rocker Q104 FM has twice run Crack the Code, a contest where listeners can improve their chances at winning by practicing on Q104's site, www.q104.ca.
"We were looking for a way to boost listenership during ratings using 'forced tuning,'" said JC Douglas, Q104's program director. "But we also wanted to boost hits on our Web site, to motivate listeners to make it their home page and return to it again and again. That's where Crack the Code fits in."
(click thumbnail)Created by Rasprodz out of the U.K. and distributed in North America by Momentum Media Marketing, Crack the Code requires listeners to open a virtual "bank vault" on-air by punching in a four-digit code on their touchtone telephone.
As on-air contestants try their hunches and make mistakes — at specific times in the day, resulting in forced tuning — "listeners can eliminate digits by deductive reasoning from the incorrect guesses," Douglas told RW.
Meanwhile, a practice version of the Crack the Code game is hosted on the radio station's Web site, giving listeners a chance to test their own hunches about the day's code before calling in.
"After a few practice rounds online, one can get very fast as you pick up the 'strategy' of narrowing down the codes," he said.
During the two ratings periods in which it ran, Crack the Code helped Q104 boost listenership, said Douglas. "It has also increased our Web site traffic, which we feel has played a big part in moving our audience numbers up. This game really is cutting-edge, and it does get people more involved with that station than other older, more static games do." He said that because its prize levels are adjustable, the game is within the budget of smaller stations.
However, he continued, "We put so much budget into the prize money, that it's hard for us to match what we did in the past" with that contest. As a result, Crack the Code has been retired for the time being. "After having gone 'big' we feel it would be awkward to go 'smaller' now."
At present, Q104 is staying focused on promoting its site on-air through other contests, radio mentions and on-site features such as the "Thong of the Day," a photo feature that definitely has nothing to do with a lisp.
"We are doing some blogging and some podcasting, but just getting people to adopt our Web site as their homepage is at the heart of our strategy," Douglas said.