Of Stunts, Strippers, and The Pole

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ThePolePreface: Before anyone gets annoyed, I am covering this from a purely neutral stance as an examination of a radio stunt. I will not make or engage in value judgments of the morality, taste, or misogynistic factors beyond quoting others’ impressions. I will also not clear comments for publication on those aspects of the story. Be advised that some of this may be considered NSFW (Not Safe For Work) depending on your workplace. Now, let’s proceed.

“Stripper Radio” as a format? If you are a resident of Denver, CO, it is. At least for now, 101.5 The Pole describes itself thusly:

Classic Non Stop Stripper Hits, from the 80’s, 90’s and today. This is a very exciting time and we are both humbled and honored to be at the forefront of this new wave of music programming. So please welcome to 101.5 The Pole, the first of what will soon be the lap dance heard around the world.

Of course, a format shift like this has raised eyebrows and generated commentary since it began a week or so ago.

Seraphina at BeatCrave comments:

Although we don’t know if this is a stunt until they fill the spot with something else, one cannot help but think that times  – as old folks would say – “are-a-changin’!”

Idolator brings us some great reasons to believe that this is an attention getting stunt. One that is obviously working.

Now, reports are saying that this format change is actually a temporary stunt while Max transitions the station to an actual format—apparently the company pulled a similar interstitial-format stunt with a station in Virginia, turning it into the “Chinese hits”-formatted Kung Pao Radio before flipping it to Top 40. (One wonders if the misspelling on the station’s homepage—which refers to “The Pole” as “The Poll”—is a hint at its future format. All-request radio? All-voted-on radio?) Still, what makes this stunt so depressing is its blend of utter cheesiness, unwillingness to embrace any music that’s even remotely new, and, of course, good old-fashioned misogyny.

What furthers this suspicion is that the “Message from Our Leader” on the front page of both the Kung Pao and The Pole websites is identical until it names the format of the station. I’m surprised no one else writing about this seems to have noticed. The sites themselves look like clones with slightly different themes overlaid. Here is the identical verbiage:

As we continue to ride the economic roller coaster, radio finds itself in an interesting, yet exciting period. In its existence. Radio has been a viable medium for over 80 years because of its ability to change to reflect the times and the ever-changing tastes and lifestyles of it’s audience. A new era has dawned for the industry and once again we must evaluate where we are and where we are going. With iPods and other music delivery services now available, Radio must continue to change to meet the times. Earlier this year, Max Media undertook the most ambitious project that this industry has ever seen. With the help of Harris Research, the company launched an intensive research project. Hundreds of focus groups were hosted. Ten of thousands of phone interviews were conducted. A direct mail questionnaire was sent nationally to over 1.8 million radio listeners like you. And then the arduous project of looking at the numbers and seeing what they mean and where they point us began. And today, with Hampton Roads as its first market, 100.5 is poised to begin the next generation of terrestrial Radio formats. The research is in and the numbers are irrefutable. The large gaping formatic hole that has been all but ignored?

[View on The Pole ] [ View on Kung Pao] Note that while the text and company listed are the same, the individual named in each byline is different. My money says stunt, and an effective one at that. A truism of talk radio is that controversy draws interest — heck, that’s true of most media. I’m sure that there is more than a  little controversy around this one. Their website sports an “Employees Bathroom Webcam” and written content that reminds me of so called “Teddy Rags” like <i>Maxim</i>.

They say sex sells, and in many cases that is quite true. Moral outrage is also an effective device for some because of the attention it generates. (Would you have noticed The Last Temptation of Christ opening in theaters if it were not all over the news because of the picket lines in front of the theaters?) I have a feeling this stunt is shooting for some of both. In that regard, it is an effective campaign.

I would advise them to change it up a bit next time. It is way too easy for an Internet savvy audience — and they grow more so day by day — to discover the main page and do cut and paste work as I did.

Image: 101.5 Logo | Fair Use

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