Almost every popular radio station uses giveaways. Rewards include cash, cars, vacations, and other prizes ranging from record albums to TV sets. Playing the contests won't make you rich, but there's nothing like the thrill of hearing your name announced over the radio-as a winner.
Although chance plays the major role, you can greatly increase your odds of winning by understanding how call-in contests are run. After the contest has been announced, several factors determine how quickly you should place your call:
* The winning number: The number of the winning call often corresponds to the station's location on the dial. For example, one station I listen to, at 95.5 FM, always rewards the 95th caller. If I dial right away, I'll be about number 20 (stations generally tell you your number when your call is answered). So I wait 35 seconds before dialing. By the time the call goes through and the phone rings a few times (at least five seconds per ring), I'll be pretty lose to call number 95. It usually takes the station 70-75 seconds to reach that call.
* The number of lines at the station: This helps determine how quickly they get to the winning number. A station with only two phone lines moves more slowly than one with 22. If you ask, most stations will tell you how many lines they use for contests. (With one station, however, I had to take a studio tour to find out.)
* The number of people answering the phones: Stations that have two or more people handling the calls move more quickly than those where it's left up to the DJ. After you've played the contests a few times, you'll get to know the voices-and the number of phone answerers at each station.
* Individual speeds: Some DJs get the contest rolling quickly, others slowly. Get to know their habits. See radio contest for more information.
There's always an element of chance. The difference between being caller number 94 and caller number 95 is a split second, and there's no way you can control that. But you can greatly increase the odds of winning.
Don't give up. If you get a call through and you're five or more numbers away from winning, hang up and try again. And don't let a busy signal discourage you. Hint: Many stations have a recording telling you "Please try again later" if all the lines are busy. Stay on the line. Your call will be answered ... sometimes in the middle of the recording, sometimes soon after it's been completed.
Some DJs award the prize at random rather than counting through the calls to, say, number 95. Others announce that caller number two will win, so they don't have to answer 95 calls (and with such a low number, it's really no contest at all). Your only recourse in such a situation is to complain to the station's management. If lazy DJs know they've been caught, they'll improve.
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