You’ve all heard about the time when an Orson Welles radio broadcast sent America into panic, right?
It started when the station started broadcasting a test signal featuring “Aliens” talking about how they’d taken over the station and would make an announcement about the change at a certain date and time. It seemed to backfire as the station was flooded with calls, children refused to go to school and in a bad case of Chinese Whispers, an alien invasion turned into a bomb threat. As attention to the stunt grew, the station quickly updated the messages. My favourite part is when the Aliens bring in a PR consultant.
The reaction was more than likely down to Social Media – and probably seemed to surprise the station.
“People are saying we’re broadcasting threats to the community — I’m like, what in the world are they talking about,” program director Brian Rickman tells the Shoals News. (INSIDE RADIO)
The great thing about this project was how they quickly managed to update it all. This was mainly due to a decision not to make the aliens sound how you’d typically expect in a promo, but to utilise the text to speech voices found on any Mac. Production is incredibly simple, really nicely written and funny too. It actually makes me think that a fun show could easily be created this way on some formats. In fact, this could be a fun thing for a station like FUN Kids or similar to do – easy to make and easy to have fun with.
Of course, in the UK, we’re all familiar with the Birdsong test transmissions. Well, the aliens are too:
It’s all a little knowing, certainly tongue in cheek – but really creative. And really simply produced too.
And it’s got them a whole load of press too.
So – the result. They’ve morphed from an urban station to a format described as “Modern Hit Music” – anything from Genesis to Pink, Kings of Leon to Lenny Kravitz, Imagine Dragons to Adele. A pretty broad playlist – maybe one for John Ryan’s Listened In blog to analyse..
If you are going to relaunch or stunt – a project to analyse for ideas, flaws and improvements?
- Alien invasion panics Alabamans — it’s an ad campaign (news.cnet.com)
- ‘Alien’ Marketing Promotion Scares Residents In Ala. Community (atlanta.cbslocal.com)
I’ve not listened since they were in their test transmission phase, but judging by their Facebook updates, they really are listening to what their audience wants and are asking for honest feedback too. How many other stations would be brave enough or open enough to do that these days?