Former Station General Manager, John Patton Remembers WHEN: The promotional bills resulted from the confluence of two unfortunate government actions: 1) Richard Nixon instituted price controls,
2) the FCC said stations had to offer unlimited time to Federal candidates at the lowest advertising rate the station offered.
I had just taken over as General Manager and gone about re-pricing the inventory to increase revenue. In doing so I had
used a package pricing concept that made night and over night spots very inexpensive. Because of the way the FCC rule was
written Meredith attornies believed that we would have to offer that rate to political advertisers REGARDLESS OF THE TIME THEY RAN!
As you can imagine I was appalled at the specter of having to run spots in drive time at the over night rate!!
Never being one to take it lying down...I determined that if we made air time available free we did not have to sell any political advertising. So I had a promo spot made with a 45 second bed in the middle and announced that WHEN would be Political advertising free during the election season. We then offered candidates the opportunity to record a message over the bed and by doing this we not only controlled the creative (same production and music under all) we were able to require the candidate him or herself to voice the message. This virtually eliminated personal attacks and negative advertising. This decision played well with our contrarian image and it also dumped a ton of cheap spots onto our competitors! In 1972 these bills were mostly passed out to advertisers as we told them that their spots would not have to compete with political ads. It was just one of the little creative pieces that taken together propelled WHEN from an also-ran to number one in Syracuse.
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