THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. This Halloween staple is over 40 years old (it debuted in the Fall of 1975). And what would Halloween be without Rocky Horror (or black fishnet stockings and transvestites, for that matter)? The movie will be playing on cable television, and I know of at least one stage show that will also be televised. Arrange for a screening at a local sports bar or other venue with multiple screens. Invite people to come in costume, armed with props they can use during the show. (You can find a complete guide to participating in the show by going to http://www.rockyhorror.com/participation/. The website also lists when and where the movie and stage shows will be playing, among other handy factoids.)
A couple of other ways you can tie into the “Horror” phenomenon:
- Do an on-air trivia contest featuring your town’s biggest superfan (ask for candidates on the air).
- Play clips from the movie on the air and ask your audience to identify the character(s) in the clip.
WAR OF THE WORLDS. We did some research and it seems that the recording of the original “War of the worlds” broadcast is free to use:
According to several sources, the copyright is in the public domain, so no permission is needed. According to Wikimedia,
This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed. Unless its author has been dead for the required period, it is copyrighted in the countries or areas that do not apply the rule of the shorter term for U.S. works, such as Canada (50 pma), Mainland China (50 pma, not Hong Kong or Macao), Germany (70 pma), Mexico (100 pma), Switzerland (70 pma), and other countries with individual treaties.
United States copyright law does not protect sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972. Most U.S. states protect the common law copyright to these recordings, but this principle has so far only been applied regarding copyright in New York. Uploading, downloading, or copying the file in New York State may constitute infringement of copyright. On February 15, 2067, United States copyright law will supersede state law and the recording will enter the public domain.
Recordings of copyrighted musical compositions etc., cannot be freely used, but it is asserted that this sound recording not based on copyrighted material can currently be considered public domain in the United States generally, except in New York, and in other countries where it has not been separately copyrighted. Files bearing this tag may be deleted in the future, depending on the outcome of community discussions and new case law.
Note, however, that the script for the radio play is still under copyright, so you can use the recording, just can’t remake it.
The broadcast is available online at https://bit.ly/2wYRjgL.
CANDY CORN TRIVIA. Did you know that more than 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced each year—enough to circle the moon nearly four times if laid end-to-end? Candy corn—a.k.a. Indian corn—was created in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Philadelphia, PA-based Wunderle Candy Company. The three colors of the candy—a broad yellow end, a tapered orange center, and a pointed white tip—mimic the appearance of kernels of corn. Each piece is approximately three times the size of a real kernel from a ripe or dried ear. Google “candy corn trivia” and you’ll end up with more than enough amazing candy corn data to drive a fun Halloween-themed on-air promotion.
HALLOWEEN TRIVIA. Did you know that trick-or-treating in America was originally a Thanksgiving activity? Or that the Irish potato famine played a major role in the arrival of Halloween celebrations in North America? These are just a couple of fascinating facts you can find by Googling— Yep, you guessed it—“Halloween trivia.”
DUCT TAPE HALLOWEEN COSTUMES. Encourage your listeners to make their own costumes using duct tape. (You’re not going to believe this, but all you have to do is Google “duct tape halloween costumes” to unearth a treasure trove of ideas.) Have them show up, in costume, at a local venue, sponsor location, parking lot, or the radio station. Have local celebrities do the judging. Serve candy corn and Bloody Marys (virgin, of course).
BEST HALLOWEEN HOUSE DECORATIONS. Do a competition judged by a local blue- ribbon panel or listenrs. Conduct a “Tour of Terror” of the winning homes.
BLACK CAT SINGS THE CALLS. This is a fun promotion that gets media attention. Your station gives a cash or merchandise prize to the owner of a black cat (or any cat, for that matter) that can sing the station call letters. Make it a station event where contestants and other listeners come to participate. Goofy but fun.
CANINE COSTUME PARTY. It’s one thing to do a Halloween costume party for people, but how about one for dogs? You’ll attract lots of pet owners, have a lot of fun, and probably generate some press as well.
FRIGHT NIGHT. Sponsor an invitation-only Halloween costume party at a local spot. During the month of October, give away pairs of tickets to the 13th caller when they hear a fright sound (cackle, scream, creaking door) or part of a Halloween song. At the event, award prizes for the best, worst, scariest and most creative costumes.
GLOWING EYES. If you wear contact lenses, ask your optometrist for Fluorescein; soak your lenses in it; put them under a black light for an hour or so, and your eyes will glow in the dark.
HALLOWEEN COSTUME COMPETITION. You can do this among adults. . .kids. . .even pets.
HALLOWEEN HOUSE. Starting a week before the 31st, start giving clues about where the WXXX Halloween House is located. Trick-or-treaters ask, “Is this the WXXX Halloween House?” Award special “treats” to those who ask at the designated house.
HALLOWEEN PARADE is done as a huge event with lots of sponsor tie-ins. Listeners come in costume for an evening of food, beverages and fun. This is a great downtown event: stores can stay open and give special deals and free goodies.
HAUNTED BUS. This can be sponsored by your local transportation company. Decorate the interior of the bus and painted Halloween designs on the outside. Families walk through the bus and receive treats as they leave.
HORRIBLE PARTY. Throw a big Halloween party at a local venue. Families are encouraged to come in costume for trick-or-treating, games, and a storyteller telling ghost stories. The candy, bags and prizes are supplied by participating sponsors.
HORROR FILM FESTIVAL. Work with a local theater to present a Midnight show or matinee consisting of old horror films. The rights to these are cheap or free. Or do it yourself at a room at the library. If you go that route, pop up some popcorn and give it away, or work with a local food vendor to supply snacks.
HORROR FILM PRIZES. Pick up some old horror films in the discount bin of the local video store and use them for prizes.
I HEAR DEAD PEOPLE. Have your morning show play only songs by dead people.
I VANT YOUR BLOOD. Run a blood drive around Halloween—reminding listeners that the blood they give must be their own!
KXXX TRICK OR TREATER. A costumed character parades around town on Halloween day, giving goodies to people who identify the KXXX Trick or Treater. On the air, give clues to the character’s identity, and where he or she will be.
MALL CRAWL. Give away your own treat-filled bags at a local mall. Fill the bags with candy, station goodies, and coupons from stores in the mall. (Don’t forget the entertainment—magicians, clowns, sports figures.)
MCGRUFF HALLOWEEN BAGS. The National Crime Prevention Council has trick-or-treat bags featuring McGruff the Crime Dog and his Halloween safety tips. They can be imprinted with your station logo. For more information, visit their website.
PUMPKIN DROP. After Halloween, have listeners bring their “used” pumpkins to a big sponsor’s parking lot. Rent a crane and drop the pumpkins. Biggest splash wins, or mark off the lot and award prizes to each participant based on where the pumpkin lands.
PUMPKIN PARTIES. Line up several establishments in your area and throw simultaneous costume parties simultaneously, with rotating live reports from all of them. If you don’t have enough jocks or want to go in a different direction, hire a Pumpkin Party Bus to hit each location.
PUMPKIN PARTY. Right before Halloween, have a pumpkin-carving contest where listeners must include your call letters somewhere on the pumpkin. Have the listeners bring the completed jack-o-lanterns to a certain venue (mall, downtown area, etc.) to put on display; shoppers vote for the scariest, funniest, most original, etc. Your personalities can award prizes during a special ceremony.
THROW A BIG HALLOWEEN PARTY at a local venue. Families are encouraged to come in costume for trick-or-treating, games, and a storyteller telling ghost stories. The candy, bags and prizes are supplied by participating sponsors.
TOUR OF TERROR. Have listeners decorate their homes with a Halloween theme and award prizes for the best, worst, most creative, most ornate, etc.
TREAT BAG X-RAYS. Sponsor treat bag X-rays in cooperation with a local hospital.
TRICK OR TREAT BAGS. This is a great way to offer clients added value with their regular radio buy. Have plastic bags imprinted with your station’s logo and those of co-sponsors. You can either do bags that are specific to Halloween (black and orange, pumpkin graphic, etc.) or something more generic that you can use for other events and shows.
TRICK-OR-TREAT BULLETIN BOARD. Compile and post on your website and/or read on the air a list of malls and downtown areas in your market that are doing trick-or-treating; ditto the Haunted Houses in the area.
TRICK OR TREAT STREET. Sell an on-air campaign to a real estate developer along with a promotion where children trick or treat on the streets of the developer’s model home development. Sell schedules to toy and snack vendors and anyone else who wants to get in on the fun. Tie in a public library and book stores by having them read ghost stories at houses along the route. Promote the event on-air as a safe way for parents to take their kids trick-or-treating. Print up treat bags with your station and the sponsor’s logo on them. Allow sponsors to coupon, too.
TRICK OR TREAT HOUSE. Line up local sponsors. In advance, pick out several “WXXX Trick or Treat Houses” around town, telling listeners when they are trick-or-treating, to ask at each house, “Is this the WXXX Trick or Treat House?” If it is, they receive a prize from the co-sponsor.
TRICK OR TREAT. When listeners hear the doorbell sound effect on the air, they call the station to either be “tricked” or “treated.” Each person who calls can win a prize (like a bag of Halloween candy and a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi).
TRICK OR TREATER. This is a variation on the “WXXX House” from above. A costumed character parades around town on Halloween day, giving goodies to people who identify the KXXX Trick or Treater.
TRICKS OR DIAMONDS. WQNY, Ithaca, NY scared up this unique promotion for October, an off-season month for the jewelry business. The station held a “Rock-toberfest” which ties in a jewelry store and a hotel lounge/club. The promotion was a success for the station and the participating sponsors because of the creativity of the promotion. Listeners call in for a chance to win “Q-Rocks,” smooth stones painted with the station logo. The rocks are good for free admission to the exclusive Rock-tober party hosted by the station at the sponsoring hotel/club. Because the festival is held in October, the party includes a Halloween-themed “best dressed rock” costume contest. The person whose Q-Rock is judged the most creatively adorned wins the grand prize—loose gems from the participating jewelry store.