Posted: May 20, 2009
Radio show’s ‘barter marketing’ attracts advertisers and bargain hunters
Rocky Mountain Radio's new Radio Shopping Show franchise finds an audience in ColoradoBy Patricia Kaowthumrong
Self-described bargain hunter David Lu first heard about The Radio Shopping Show while listening to KRCN-AM 1060 in his car – and he quickly became a regular listener.
“You never know when they’ll be offering a deal you can’t pass up,” said Lu, a Longmont resident and Level 3 Communications engineer. “They’re practically giving stuff away.”
The 8-month-old Longmont-based radio program offers listeners discounts of up to 60 percent – and sometimes more – on everything from travel to automotive services. Operated by Rocky Mountain Radio, the show is growing in popularity thanks to its unique bartering system, colorful hosts, unscripted format and more than 500 advertisers, which offer deal-seekers like Lu an opportunity to save money in a time of economic uncertainty.
Listeners can buy discount-priced “certificates” to local - and corporate-owned businesses like Great Harvest Bread Company, Papa Murphy’s, Ace Hardware and even the Denver Zoo. All listeners have to do is call in and speak to the show’s on-air host; listeners must also sign-up for a free “shopper number” to take advantage of the deals offered on the show.
In October, Rocky Mountain Radio franchised The Radio Shopping Show, which is also on-air in Las Vegas and Chicago. But Rocky Mountain Radio owns the Colorado market, which includes the show on AM 1060 in Denver, Longmont and Boulder, as well as KKKK-AM 1580 in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
“We wanted to put a spin on modern radio advertising,” said Kate Duncan, vice president of Rocky Mountain Radio and host of The Radio Shopping Show. “We’re more closely associated with the Las Vegas show; they helped set us up and trained us after we bought the franchise.”
Duncan calls the show’s unique bartering system “neighbor-to-neighbor” advertising.
“It benefits both local businesses and shoppers,” Duncan said.
Shopper certificates are able to be offered at such low prices because businesses exchange products and services for advertising and publicity on the shopping show. Hosts describe the businesses on the air in-between calls.
The show has rapidly grown in popularity to 1,300 shoppers, Duncan said. Just three months ago, she said, the show had 600 to 700 registered shoppers.
Deb Thomas, manager of Fusion Food & Spirits in Longmont said featuring her business on The Radio Shopping Show helps bring people in to try the restaurant for the first time.
“We’ve had a lot of return,” Thomas said. Customers try the restaurant "because maybe they got a $25 certificate for $10” and they come back, “because they love it.”
Thomas said she likes how the show educates listeners about local businesses they might not know about otherwise.
While people tune into the show for the discounts, that’s not the only reason they listen. The show is also entertaining, and every listener has a favorite Radio Shopping Show host.
“We’ve got six or seven hosts that do the show, so you never know what you’re going to get,” Duncan said.
Once callers received a certain percentage off certificates based on their ages. For instance, if a customer was 50 years old, then he or she received 50 percent off.
“When there are no calls, we have to spend time talking about businesses we’re personally interested in,” said Tommy Morris, technical producer for Rocky Mountain Radio and a host of The Radio Shopping Show. “We have hosts that are into promoting skydiving or local music. I like to keep it lighthearted and tell lots of jokes.”
Since Morris started with Rocky Mountain Radio in December, he said he’s seen a jump in the amount of calls.
“It went from 10 to 15 callers per show to 70 to 80 callers listening in to try and save money,” Morris said. “I’m confident that longer we’re on the air, the more audience we’ll gain, especially if the economy stays how it is.”
Listener Lu said he’s drawn to the show because it allows him to try new businesses and get big discounts on things he spends money on anyway.
The only downside is being on the radio.
“If you don’t want to be on the radio, you’re really missing out,” Lu said. “It’s a small sacrifice of mine to save 50 to 60 percent on stuff I need anyways.”
Patricia Kaowthumrong is a student at the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Contact her at Patricia.Kaowthumrong@colorado.edu.