Wednesday, November 30, 2016
The station would announce they’ve hidden a key that opens a vault containing a fortune somewhere in town. Listen to the station for clues. First person to find the key wins. The station would give clues to help you zero in on it. So people were glued to their radios.
What would happen unfortunately is that listeners in their zeal would literally dig up the town looking for that damn key. They’d dig up peoples’ backyards, government lawns, private property, public parks. They'd bust sewer lines, gas lines, would dig up cemeteries. A few even took jackhammers to streets. These treasure hunters would tear up their cities to win that key. Eventually, the government had to step in and ban these contests.
But there were others. You know the famous WKRP Thanksgiving turkey drop? (You probably saw it last week during Thanksgiving.) It was based on a true incident that happened to WQXI in Atlanta.
Also, KFRC: They once had a “Location X” contest. They chose some super obscure town somewhere in the world, had a ten second sound byte of it, and listeners had to identify the town. The winner would receive a trip there. Clues would be given to narrow down the location. This was a fairly standard contest of the time. And by controlling how difficult or easy the clues were, the station could keep the contest going for several weeks.
So KFRC begins this contest at 6:00 one morning. They took contestants once an hour. The person on line either the second or third hour guessed it correctly. She had been to that town, and in the sound byte recognized a certain distinctive church bell. Oops again.
At the time there was a hooded rapist who was terrorizing the “Inland Empire.” The station ran a public address announcement asking people to “help find the hooded rapist.”
My grandmother shook her head and said, “Such a contest!”
I so miss radio. And my grandmother.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM