by Greg Williams
Here's a tip from Greg Williams, Production Director at WAFX-FM in Norfolk, VA, that any station that plays an occasional old song can adopt.
A listener-generated "Lost Classic" feature we have going on now has given our award-winning Production Department even more fodder. The Lost Classic itself is merely an oldie or "classic hit" that has been requested. We've simply packaged the requests as a feature presentation with full blown creative promos to encourage listener participation. We ask listeners to request a Lost Classic and tell us their fondest memories of this song they've not heard in a long while. At the same time, we get their age and address for demographic research. (From a programming stand-point, this audience input helps us punch up the playlist without adding experimental selections that might not be recognizable.)
For the promos, Mark Mitchell, our award-winning "promo man," has been concocting creative "in search of..." vignettes from his all-too-bent brain. With the voice assistance of British born Robert James, our midday "English guy," Mark strives to produce something never heard before on the air. (Mark is a very well read individual and uniquely intelligent. His mastery of the English language is amazing to hear. Hint, hint: Go to college first, THEN get into radio full time.) This reservoir of talent and information, plus "Stream of Consciousness Production" (Tales of the Tape, June 91), equals the most ear-catching promos on the air.
The "In Search Of" series has been so entertaining, one young lady listener, Kim Pollard, drew a "what happened next" picture for each promo and faxed us follow-up cartoons for each promo's story line. Needless to say, this gave us the encouragement to continue the characters as we looked forward to her following scene. You want to talk about listener response! The cries of "Bwaaahnaaah!!" are filling the air of Hampton Roads!
Not only have the listeners been involved in the music campaign to the degree described above, but it seems WAFX The Fox has stoked the fire under our competition's playlists. It seems now that everyone in the market is "digging into the archives" or "playing your favorite memories," and they're asking listeners to call in "special requests." But the Fox is the only station doing full blown station promos for the feature.
The Lost Classic idea has proven to be one of those killer ideas that doesn't come along too often. Keep the right side of your brain in full gear and make notes about everything you hear and think of, either on paper, micro cassette, or pocket computer (Mark's personal choice). There's nothing more frustrating that forgetting a killer idea! And use the audience for material as often as possible. Not only does it add new and different voices on the air, but when a listener takes the time to comment on a promo they've heard on your station, or draw elaborate pictures about the promo, it makes the hours of work worthwhile!
Below is the drawing by listener Kimberly Pollard that was faxed to WAFX after the first Lost Classic vignette/promo aired. Kimberly works for Quick Print in the WAFX listening area. With her talent, we hope she's doing more than running a copy machine!