I love this so much, for a bunch of reasons. But most of all, for the way this show knows how to turn a listener into a star on the air. It’s a perfect example of making a listener feel great because of the way they treat a radio contest player.

Radio personalities earn loyalty and build fans one by one. Hundreds of small things make a big difference in the fight to win friends and influence listeners.

When executing contests, radio personalities are predictable. They know drama makes for good radio, but apply the concept in typical ways in contesting.

Sometimes I even hear non-winners on the air to build to the winner.

Talent: Hey, this is WXXX…Who’s this?

Hi, I was calling to win the prize. Am I the right caller?

Talent: Oh, no, sorry, you missed it by just one. You almost won, but no…you’re not the winner.

There’s no benefit to this type of call, no matter how playful and fun the personality thinks he or she is being. The listener is disappointed, the audience thinks you’re a jerk, and it builds no real suspense or anticipation.

It’s a waste of time. And it does nothing to win friends and influence listeners.

How To Treat A Caller

Each caller represents the radio audience. The way they are treated makes a statement about how the personality feels about all listeners.

Yes, they take it personally because listeners take radio personally.

The caller is interested enough to do what was asked. They took action. They actually called in to win even though call in to win contests don’t work. But that’s beside the point.

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And their reward? They’re called a loser. Not literally, but figuratively.

Sometimes I hear several non-winner calls in a break. Personalities take 2-3 calls before getting to the winner, or they air calls after the prize has been awarded. I suppose they think it’s a form of calling attention to the giveaway. But it doesn’t work.

I get the intent, but it sends a subtle message that there are more losers than winners, and the average person has little chance to win.

The Winner Call

Then there’s the actual winner call. You know, trying to coax an excited response from the winner?

The problem is, they may be:

  • not really excited to win,
  • not an excitable personality,
  • shy or nervous or
  • in a place they can’t burst out in a scream.

So the DJ asks,

What are you going to do with all that money?

And they usually say something exciting like,

Oh, probably just pay some bills.

Why? Because they haven’t thought about it, aren’t creative and lack the natural cleverness of air personalities.

So the personality will follow up with,

What station just made you a winner?

This usually gets a proper response, but it’s not natural and nobody listening values the response as an endorsement. It more of a bribe, like asking a  5 year old niece “Who’s your favorite Uncle?” after buying ice cream.

How To Treat a Radio Contest Player

The air check is yet another example of how brilliant Kidd Kraddick was..

In this case, a contest winner steps into the spotlight and becomes a cast member.

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Pay Your Bills is a popular contest, but one of the biggest challenges is being enthusiastic for a contest that runs day after day, week after week. The audience loves it, but for talent, it becomes routine.

But listen to how the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning cast, featuring Kellie Raspberry, Big Al Mack, J-Si and Jenna make the listener feel welcome.

From the beginning, this break sparkles with character, charm and a likable good nature.


This segment stands out for several reasons:

  • They get into it quickly, efficiently and with limited chit-chat. Yet it’s friendly, warm and all about the listener.
  • Since contestants don’t usually sound great on the air, the cast eases her nervousness and brings out her personality.
  • Al asks what she does for a living, and they get an interesting story about dental patients with bad breath. It humanizes the winner. Yes, it’s a short detour, but they get back on track.
  • Toward the end of the break (around 2:45), they talk about her daughter’s 11th birthday. They connect with her and sound as if she’s part of the show. This listener feels great.
  • The cast s0unds invested in that moment. They aren’t rushing to get on to the next thing.
  • A must have traits for personalities being interested in the audience. This show clearly demonstrates that attribute.

Explain The Game & Pay It Off

Another overlooked area is performing with the conscience of the audience. Many radio shows focus on a contestant, losing sight of the bigger picture. The caller already knows how the game is played. But the listener doesn’t.

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In this break, listen to how J-Si explains the contest (register online, listen to the show, call in when we announce your name). Never assume listeners know understand, no matter how long the promotion has been on.

Also notice how the show has an interesting Pay Your Bills twist. They allow entrants to submit four bills. The show then draws one bill to pay off. The producer plays the role of studio announcer for the details.

As Kellie draws the bill, listen to how the cast is cheering for the contestant! They share her excitement. This adds to their likability. They’re for the listener.

At the end, the show adds a little internal chatter, but J-Si senses it’s not going anywhere. He quickly wraps up the segment with a tease for the next episode of Pay Your Bills.


This is an excellent example of how air talent can be more likable. How you treat a radio contest player matters. It’s how personalities build a fan base, one at a time.

Kidd Kraddick was brilliant at this tactic, and it’s great to hear how his cast has carried it forward.

Putting the audience first is always a great idea.


Call in to Win Contests Don’t Work

Contests That Win Seminar on Demand

How to Promote COntest Winners

Personality Profile: 10 Things I Learned From Kidd Kraddick

Must Have Personality Traits for Radio Talent

Performing With the Conscience of the Listener

How to Be More Likable On the Radio