I started freelancing from home six years ago, and it wasn’t long after that I discovered the delights of radio competitions. Back then cash prizes were common on my local stations, and they offered holiday prizes regularly. These days the sponsors aren’t quite as generous, but it’s still an enjoyable way to win prizes – and it’s a quick way to get your competition fix! I remember driving home listening to Trent FM a few years ago when they asked for callers to identify a song in a second to win £1000. I pulled into a layby, got through straight away on my mobile, recognised a Jamelia song… it was the fastest and easiest £1000 I ever earnt! I won another £1000 a few weeks later for solving the Nottingham Tram Treasure Trail (this involved me inspecting trees in a local park, the general public must have thought I was crazy!), and have won two holidays, a Smeg fridge and over £5000 in cash from other stations including Gold, Absolute, Kerrang!, Heart and Smooth.
I’ll be posting more about radio competitions in the future, but today I’m concentrating on Smooth Radio. I don’t know if it’s because I’m edging closer to 40, but the music they play on Smooth is great – loads of great 70s & 80s tracks – and it’s definitely my local station of choice. Smooth has 6 local stations – East Midlands, West Midlands, Northeast, Northwest, London and Glasgow. To find your local station check out smoothfm.com – our East Midlands station currently runs a competition to win £1000 daily on the breakfast show, ‘Pop the Question’ in the afternoon (this week’s prize is £150 of Fenwick vouchers) and also this week, Castrol GTX are sponsoring a series of healthy prizes on the Drivetime show. You can also pop a Smooth sticker in your car for a chance to win £106.60 weekly. If you want to check what’s coming up, make sure to tune in at the weekend, when they will be running adverts for the following week’s promotions, and check the website regularly (I have shortcuts to all the good stations on my Bookmarks Bar and check them all every Friday).
Before the promotion is on-air, find out the studio number, programme it into your phone memory, and prepare your phone so that you only need to press one button to dial. If you have a spare handset (compers often have many of these with ‘Pay-as-you-go’ SIMs) then use two phones to call. If possible, listen to the station on a proper old-fashioned radio, not the internet or digital TV because of the delay. When you hear the promoter begin to introduce the competition, start calling straight away. The phone will hopefully ring out, but if it ‘s engaged then keep redialling for a few minutes. Often they need a couple of callers and may put you on hold just incase the first caller messes up! If the phone does ring and isn’t answered, don’t hang up – sometimes they take 5 minutes to answer… Smooth is a relatively small station, so when you get through to the studio the presenter will usually answer the call. Always sound excited, enthusiastic and friendly – and it’s difficult, but try not to sound too nervous!
Smooth competitions are often quizzes, and you can gain an advantage here if you have someone at home to help you out (they don’t mind this as long as you admit it when asked!) – I make sure I’m sitting at my Mac so if I’m stuck I can quickly google for the answers. If your friends are also tuning in to win, you could start up an Instant Messenger chat – they might be able to help you out with an answer. If you don’t win, then don’t despair – you’ve been brave enough to try and the next time you won’t feel as nervous!
Finally, just one thing to add – I won His’n’Hers bikes on Smooth FM yesterday by identifying a classic track – it was ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder. Unlike Trent FM, this time I had a whole 20 seconds to name it. I’m really chuffed as I’ve always wanted a bike… now I need to win a child seat for the back!