Students Teach Radio A Lesson

Full disclosure: I spent four amazing years learning more about radio, business and teamwork than I could ever imagine at WJPZ-FM, the student-run station at Syracuse University. The station’s reach extends far beyond campus, into the Central New York community, and has been a Contemporary Hit Radio fixture on FM since 1986.

OK, now that I have that out of the way, the students at WJPZ pulled something off that has the whole town talking and should be a lesson to all of radio.

The station is changing its imaging “positioner” to “The Beat of Syracuse” and to call attention to the marketing change, played a Michael Jackson song over and over again for 24 straight hours. According to a story in the campus newspaper, The Daily Orange, that prompted dozens of calls, text messages and even a 911 call to police. In other words, it created great buzz. Next up, the station plans to play the sound of a heartbeat for 24 hours. More reaction to come.

Professional broadcasters should take notice. A little creativity and personality goes a long way toward reminding listeners that radio can still be relevant. Just “playing the hits” can’t do it anymore.