These 49 Radio Contest Ideas Are The Pick of The Crop!
I’ve spent over 16 years in radio and if there’s one thing that drives radio audiences to their feet, it’s a good promotion.
No, actually that’s wrong.
It’s a GREAT promotion!
And over the year, we’ve executed a number of promotions for dozens of clients.
Some of them are hands down the absolute best in generating massive excitement for days on end.
If you are looking to boost your audience ratings, or add some spice into your show, then some of these ideas will totally do the trick.
So go ahead and steal some of these radio contest ideas and see your audience ratings grow in months!
49 Radio Contest Ideas You Must Execute in 2018
1.Gargle & Win
Ten callers must gargle a song. If they guess what it is, they win! Once again, so simple, but lots of fun because the listening audience has the chance to play.
A good prize would be a section of morning wash up products for ladies and gents.
2.We Start, You Finish
Cue up a popular song to any lyrics you want.
You then play a line and then cut if off.
The listener has to sing the next line.
It’s great when your caller has no idea what the lyrics are, but they try valiantly not to sound stupid..
3. What Can I Do For You?
Go on the air and say that your listeners are always doing nice things for you, now you would like to do something for them.
What can I do for you?
Make a few suggestions. Good warm and fuzzy.
4. The New Friend Game
Have somebody call a brand new friend or acquaintance, someone they don’t know really well and ask them for a huge favor…
- “Can you lend me money?
- Can you watch my kids?
- Can I have a kidney?”
Get agreement and win a prize, say airtime or a lunch voucher.
5. That’s Not Rihanna, That’s My Phone
Is there anything more obnoxious than cell phones that ring with a theme song?
They all have to go!
What does this really say about someone?
Does it say they’re fun? No!
It says “your obnoxious and we don’t want to sing along with your freakin’ phone!”
Find some ringtones and see if your listeners can name that song!
6. Slob On The Job
Have women nominate men they work with as a “Slob On The Job.”
Give the men some slob free stuff (someone to come in and clean their bedroom, etc.); and for the women who nominate them, free lunch, so they can get away from the slob for a while.
7. The Flashback (Trading Places)
Take a caller and let them choose the decade. 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.
Then play 20 seconds of a song from the decade.
They name the artist they get a prize which they can trade for something bigger if they think that they can name the artist.
Then they can trade up again if they think that they can name the year it came out.
8. Pocket Search
Tell the female listeners to go looking through their men’s pockets and wallets.
If they find a phone number that they don’t know about call it and see what happens.
Have the wife conferenced.
Who knows what might happen?
9. Other People’s Problems
We do a bit called “OPP — Other People’s Problems.”
The listeners write in about some of the problems they’re having, hoping that there is someone in our audience that has experienced the same problem.
They call and tell the other listener how they handled the problem.
10. Need A Day Off?
We decided to give listeners the day off, well, maybe…
You call us, then we call your boss on the air.
We give your boss a free plug on our show in exchange for giving you the day off.
Most smaller business owners are more than willing to do it once they find out how much a mention on our station runs.
11. Right/Wrong Game
We give out the title of a movie in a different language.
The first caller to correctly guess the real name of the movie is the winner.
We also do “Right Song/Wrong Title,” where we mix up the name of a popular song.
The first caller to correctly identify the name wins.
12. Breakfast Babble
You give the contestant a topic.
They have 30 seconds to “babble” about the topic.
The catch is, they can’t stop talking for more than a second and they can’t use stutter words like “um, er, annnd, uhh, etc.”
Usually you’ll end up getting a couple of people who can’t do it before you get a winner.
13. After The Beep
We just started an answering machine contest and invited our listeners to record a new greeting mentioning our morning show and radio station.
Then they call or e-mail us their name, number and best calling times.
We call several numbers each morning to audition them.
We’ll select the three best and let the audience vote for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Great prizes involved. We’ve had incredible response.
The buzz about this has been pretty cool too.
14. Early Morning Classified
Go online and get the numbers for classified ads in towns all over the place.
Call them really early and have fun.
You know… it’s 4 a.m and they’re selling a table. Tell them you’ll be right over to try it.
15. Loyal Listener Payoff
In a promo explain you’re kinda desperate (even though you’re not) for listeners, so much so that you’ll even pay people to listen.
Have checks printed with jock’s faces and station logo marked “Another Loyal Listener.”
Make all checks for a ridiculously low amount, like 39 cents.
You can even promote that you’ll be at some location writing out checks to everyone who shows up.
This is a fun stunt that really gets attention.
16. Hi-Lo Jackpot
Pretty simple, really.
We have a jackpot, the listener has to guess how much is in it to win it.
We tell them if they guessed too high or too low which helps other listeners narrow it down.
As soon as we get a winner, we start another jackpot.
Also, on Thursdays, we have Double Pay Thursdays. If the listener happens to guess the jackpot on Thursday, we’ll double their money!
17. Pizza For A Pay-Rise, Mr. Boss!
Targeted at companies where staff morale was rock-bottom, we devised this promotion where the radio hosts called on all demotivated employees who felt time was ripe for a pay-rise to subscribe to the radio station’s ‘I’m So Motivated Employee’ database via our Facebook/email handles.
We then partnered with a local pizza brand.
These demotivated folk had to write us a personal note to the boss indicating why they needed a pay-rise, why they thought this was the best company to work in and 3 key things they would do to ‘deserve’ their pay-rise. To top it off, they would ‘gift’ their boss with a nice hot pizza delivered personally by a radio host.
Majority of the bosses saw the humor in it and had a great photo-op with the staff member and radio host.
The photos made for great visuals on social media.
About the pay-rise? Well, mixed results.
44% of the employees got an eventual pay-rise at the end of the year, with no strings attached.
10% got an immediate pay-rise.
60% employees won a recognition award, for their ‘guts.”
17% of bosses didn’t like the publicity at all.
18. ‘Family Comes First’ Month
For one month declare that families come first.
Every week, get listeners to nominate their families, by indicating a special family activity they do every month.
Qualify winners at 9, 2 and 5 to win a family prize of something they can do together, that is connected to their family activity.
For example: If a family comes together for a monthly ‘Merry Go Round meet-up, then they could win a trip to a cherished family vacation hotspot where thy can continue with their usual motnhly pastime..
19. Car Roulette
Here’s a fantastic way to give away a car.
You give away spots on the Human Roulette Wheel.
Then the day of the event people will stand on their numbers of the wheel which you have painted in a large area with the car in the middle.
The car is filled with about a quarter gallon of gas and goes round in a circle till it stops.
Whatever spot it stops on wins the car.
20. Frozen T-Shirts
Here’s a couple of fun games to do at FAC’s or remotes, rather than just drawing for prizes from a registration box:
- Have a couple of frozen t-shirts (wet them down, then tie in knot and freeze) and give them to two contestants. The first one to untie it and put in on wins a prize. Works great with a station or event sponsor shirt.
- The Scales of Justice. Invite people up to step onto the scale.
Compare their actual weight with what their drivers license says, and give prizes for the closest and furthest to the drivers license weight.
21. Dine With A DJ
Get a restaurant on the air.
In order to get the buy, give the client some extra value, and give us a good promotion, we are now doing “Dine with a DJ.”
Each week we take faxes from listeners who want to dine with three of their friends and a DJ and their spouse or friend.
We draw a winner on Friday afternoon. We start over each week.
It is a way for us to touch our listeners and increase our sales.
22. Secret Song
We do a lot of movie premieres.
Most of the films we promote have soundtracks with several songs that we play regularly.
We select a song from the soundtrack to act as a “secret song” the following morning.
As listeners enter the theater, we hand them printed cards that have current promotion information on one side and the name of the song on the other side.
The “contest” is not announced over the air, it’s simply for the people in the theater usually 250-400 depending on the size of the theater, to enjoy.
Listeners phone into the station when they hear the selected song to win movie soundtracks, CD’s from artists that perform in the film other any other prizes that make sense with the theme of the film.
We always get a ton of calls and feel it is a great way to get more people sampling the station.
23. Recycling Calendars
What do you do with your old calendars?
Here’s an idea.
Depending on your market there may be an opportunity to get a printing press, NGO or company to partner with you in recycling calendars.
Most people throw them out at the end of December, or burn them.
Mobilize your radio stations listeners to return their old calendars to you, where you will recycle them into cute little diaries for the following year – in our case 2018.
Obviously with the time needed to recycle them, your listeners will get their own branded diary in early March, but it’s worth the wait!
This can be a great charity event that positions your station as enviro friendly.
It’s also a fabulous way to begin the new year!
24. Guess What!
Here’s a stunt that’s great for a mystery giveaway.
Have a crane suspend a large cargo box in a high traffic area.
On the box paint a message like “Guess What!”
About a week after the box is put up announce that the box belongs to the station, and that inside there is a super prize.
Tell people to listen to your station for clues to win the mystery prize! It’s a sure way to get some media coverage!
25. Double Play Cash Jams Of The Day
Listeners listen Monday-Friday to the morning show who will give the names of the two songs to be played back-to-back (Double Play Cash Jams Of The Day) and the daypart to listen for the songs.
Once the songs are played, the first caller to correctly identify both songs picks up $104.
This contest is a forced listenership designed to increase time spent listening.
In order to win the caller must listen each morning to find out the double play songs and then again during the designated daypart to hear the songs.
26. Bust The Bank
100 listeners each have a key, but only one will unlock the vault to the bank.
Inside are 100 money bags.
One of them has $100,000, but all the rest (99) each have $5,000!
They have 100 seconds to pick out one money bag.
We expect a big turnout and a lot of media coverage.
27. Back Pack Full Of Prizes
We did the classic “Back Pack Full Of Prizes” for back to school, but added a “roulette” element by putting different bonus prizes in every back pack.
28. Hide The Logo’s
Take some letterhead and have interns cut the logo outs.
When doing a retail appearance, take the logos and hide around the retail location.
Tell people they will win a prize when they find the logo.
Don’t hide them to well or people might throw things around.
Also, its a good idea to place the bulk in the middle to rear of the store. Managers love busy stores!
29. Lunch For Kids
We have been able to work with a packaged food producer over the last couple of years.
Together we execute a program that provides lunch for kids at school as a fundraiser for the school, or it’s favorite charity.
The radio station provides promotional support, encouraging parents, students, teachers, whoever to fax in to request our crew to come out to their school.
Once there we prepare and serve lunch to the school, students, teachers, parents, etc. Lunches are offered for a donation to the charity.
Our jocks interact with the students and do live cut-ins back to the station.
The promotion is easy to execute as the food producer does all the food prep, we simply provide the promotional air time and jocks as hosts.
We have found that it is a great “feel good” promotion as it raises money for charity, it helps us with “street marketing” and is a good revenue generator in a slower time of year.
30. The Missing Ingredient
This is a daily feature on our station.
Sometime between 10am to noon, the jock plays a special song.
Later during the lunch hour the jock says one of the lyrics from the special song, omitting part of a line.
Listeners then call in to complete the phrase. If they answer correctly they win a prize, usually something with a food theme.
31. Football University
Football widows are often overlooked in the fall and they’re the buyers in your audience.
Plan a “Football University” at a local sports bar where the husbands can watch the game and the women can learn about the sport that mesmerizes their husbands each fall.
Get a local football celebrity (coach or player) to hold a clinic each Sunday or Monday to teach them about the game, explaining play-by-play the strategies and rationale.
Tie-in with female-friendly sponsors to giveaway prizes to the women, for example: bath & body stuff, gift certificates and dinner certificates.
The grand prize could be a client sponsored shopping spree to be given away on Super Bowl Sunday.
32. Coca Cola Jail
One of the things we’re doing to raise money for CSR campaigns, and give away Coca Cola product, is build a jail of cases of Coca Cola, and lock up our midday air personality.
Patrons at the mall can donate money to the campaign and take a 6 / 12-pack or case of Coca Cola, depending on the donation.
We’re plugging it on the air starting with the morning show, middays are live from jail, and into afternoon drive, until the jail is torn down.
It’s a high traffic day for the mall, and it’s the Friday before school starts, good TV coverage, and good exposure for charity.
33. Email In To Win
We do a great deal of email in to win contesting during our midday show.
Looking for a way to further boost our in-office listening, we devised an on-going contest that targets them directly.
For each of the emails we received through the contesting we send back a personalized email thanking them for listening, and inviting them to join our email database.
They are asked to email back on official company email with a ‘yes or no’ and give a special “password.”
Each day we will announce the name of the winning office (from the returned company email) who will have 30 minutes to call back and give the special password they had indicated earlier.
Each winner will receive an office party prize pack with food/beverages, movie passes, station items,
34. Back To School Olympics
As we all know, every client in the world loves to have appearances.
But without a hook to get your listeners in the door, they generally get lost in the shuffle.
During August-September, one way to target listeners is to host appearances with a “Back To School” theme.
Hold wacky school-themed Olympics with stations featuring an “obstacle” (games like memory and flashcards, apple eating contests, and the like, usually work well an are usually very entertaining).
Another great activity to have on site is a child ID program.
You can create cards with your logo on the front that has all the child’s information to be filled in, a Polaroid shot of them and a place for their fingerprints.
This program is another great source of additional revenue for sponsorship and usually works well with a big variety of category sponsors.
35. Make A Mad Dash
Well, back-to-school time is right around the corner, and what better than a race for school supplies.
If you’re in a college town this one’s really good, set something up with a bookstore in the area for a $200 spending spree.
Do a remote to promo the day the winner is supposed to make their 5 minute dash, great for getting people out to see someone make a mad dash, plus you’re promoting education, well, sort of.
Promo it up big on the other shows and have the contest drawing on the morning show.
36. Do It Yourself Weekend
One weekend every summer, our station conducts a “Do It Yourself Weekend.”
Listeners e-mail or send in their entries, a list of the songs they would play if they had their own hour on the air.
We get a great feel for what listeners want to hear and the listeners get the opportunity to hear different music and their friends as DJ’s.
We have “celebrity” guest DJ’s throughout the weekend as well with local personalities.
37. Simplify Your Life Week
‘Simplify Your Life’ week is coming up in August.
Why not do an on-air promotion in which each day your jocks give away one big prize that will simplify a listeners life.
For example: cellular phone use, answering machine, cleaning service, personal planners, etc
38. 9-2-5 Club
To secure/boost valuable at-work listening, set your station up as a “9-2-5” station.
At 9 am, 2 pm and 5 pm, have listeners call in to win a qualifying prize of 15 to 25 dollars (value).
We make them work a little bit by asking them to name the last song we just played to win the prize.
Do this each weekday for a total of 15 times a week.
At 5 pm on Friday give away an associated grand prize, $300 or more. Make this a 52-week a year staple of the station.
Listeners love it because the prizes change each week. PD’s love it because it invites listeners to “make a daily appointment with the station.”
Sales love it because it gives their clients the chance to plug in their prizes for a week.
Offer a cash schedule, plenty of promos and if possible a designated web page, updated weekly with the new contest. It also forces the station to really plan ahead.
39. The Great Paper Airplane Toss
Here’s how it works. One of the local companies gives away a hot tub at the halftime of a college/high schools’s basketball game.
Right before halftime the women’s basketball team hands out the paper which has on it your logo and the details for winning the hot tub.
Everyone has 90 seconds in which to throw their airplane, and if there is more than one that lands in the tub then we draw from those.
It is quite cool to see 6000 airplanes flying down from the bleachers and it is a great promotion because each person must read the directions on the paper.
Of course, we put signage up on the hot tub and this is our second year doing this promotion.
40. Traveling Radio “Medicine Show”
We are fortunate to have a wonderful children’s hospital locally. As a station, it is our priviledge to work with the hospital on several projects.
One of our newest projects is our traveling radio “medicine show.”
What we do is take a mobile studio unit into the children’s hospital play room and allow the patients to play disc jockey.
Each child is able to introduce a song and make a tape of themselves.
It’s a wonderful experience for the kids to meet local celebrities and make a fun tape for themselves and their families.
We are still in the early stages of this project, but we plan to do much more with it, including corporate sponsorships and allowing kids who are able to, visit the station and sit in with our DJ’s.
41. Howdy Horn Honker
When doing live call-ins from weekend remotes, we have staff members stand by the road with “Honk” signs.
As the jock does the live breaks, vehicles passing by “honk” like crazy.
Sounds like every car driving by is listening to us! Makes the station sound huge!
42. Station Payroll
Here’s an at-work listening driven contest that was a huge success.
We gave listeners a chance to register their name to get in our database (comprised of previous winners).
Then, we called out names from the database once an hour between 9 am-5 pm, and gave the person 9 minutes and 5 seconds to call back to get put on the “Station Payroll” — we paid $25 an hour.
If the person the following hour did not call back, then the previous winner got their $25, and so on.
We had a couple of winners get over $150, but also had a good percentage of them call back.
At the end, all the winners were put into a drawing for the grand prize, the “station employee of the month,” who we awarded a $5,000 bonus.
We also had a little plaque made up for the winner.
There are a lot of options with this contest, we also tied in the state lottery who matched the $25 an hour with lottery tickets, and Payday candy bars. Great forced-listening contest too.
43. Thousand Gallon Thursdays!
With gas prices soaring, giving away gas is a terrific attention getter. Much more effective than selling gas for your frequency.
All dayparts should promote Thousand Gallon Thursdays for 2-3 days leading up to the event. This stunt lasts 4 weeks.
Every Thursday, the morning show broadcasts from a different location. Hit your hottest zips for maximum impact.
Give away a thousand gallons of gas. Limit is 10 gallons per car. Start pumping at 6 am, the cars will line up for miles and they come as early as 2 or 3 in the morning to make sure they get a crack at the free gas.
Submit press releases to all the local TV stations and newspapers. Notify the local PD though… it creates quite a traffic jam.
Have your morning show actually pump the gas at times while on the air and interview listeners as they come through.
Unbelievable positive PR!
Make sure to tie in with a local donut shop to provide free coffee/tea and donuts for everyone waiting in line, have your promotions staff walking the line serving too.
Plaster each location with banners, inflatables, etc.
The cost of the gas is negligible when compared to the press coverage of this stunt.
44. Connect The Classics
Weekdays at 10am, we play three tunes in a row that have one common theme.
At the end of the three tunes, listeners call to try to “Connect The Classics.”
If they know the common theme of the three songs they win a prize from the prize vault.
45. Live Lunch
If you have special programming during the lunch hour, like an all-request lunch, take it on the road for a few weeks!
Sell a package to a local restaurant, maybe one that needs help building traffic during the noon hour.
Have your midday personality broadcast live from the location, featuring lunch specials, giveaways, etc.
If you have a request show, play the requests from lunch patrons, with them requesting the song live from the restaurant.
Lots of possibilities with this one, like tying in a charity, registration to win a bigger prize,
46. 100 Bottles On The Wall
A local restaurant features one specialty drink a night, offered at a special price for the night.
The next day, callers are asked to identify the specialty drink.
The promotion runs for 6 mornings, on 7th day (Father’s Day), finalists come to the restaurant and play musical chairs to the song, “100 Bottles on the Wall.”
The remaining person wins the grand prize Father’s Day extravaganza: dinner for four, a lazy boy chair, 100 bottles of specialty drinks, and tickets to Bows home game, including limo.
47. Chain Radio Stunt
Get a bunch or radios, put them in boxes playing your station and mail them to the agencies.
It’s a chain radio with a note that tells them to change the batteries and mail it to someone else.
Deposit in mailbox so folks walking by will hear it, mail carrier will too and all of the folks at the post office and on the route.
This contest will create talk.
48. Gotcha Cards
We just started an off-air promotion with “Gotcha Cards.”
We printed mail-in cards and gave them to every employee to hand out.
Whenever one of our employees goes into store or office that is playing our station, they are given the “Gotcha” bounce back card.
We are giving away all kinds of prizes for the cards that are sent back and doing on-air office salutes to those who respond.
It’s a great tool to meet new clients and build a strong biz database.
49. Thirsty Thursdays
Each week broadcast live from a happy hour bar.
The venue will rotate weekly.
Sign six bars/restaurants up and have fun! You can also give clues as to where the following week’s party will be.
The person who guesses on Wednesday wins a prize.
To Sum It Up
Any one of these radio promotion ideas can boost your audience ratings, if executed well.
Tons of radio stations across Australia, United Kingdom, Holland, and USA have applied improvisations of these ideas with resounding success.
If they worked for them, they can work for you too!
Schedule them across the year and at strategic times when you know listenership usually dips and see the difference they make.
The best thing is all of them are revenue-generators adding to increased sponsorship.
Try them out and leave a comment below! We’d love to hear how they turned out!