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Stunting (broadcasting)

Stunting is a practice in radio broadcasting, which occurs when a station begins, abruptly and without advance announcement, to air content that is seemingly uncharacteristic compared to what they normally play.[1] The tactic is most commonly used when a station is about to undergo a major change, such as a change in format, branding, frequency, ownership or management, or occasionally as a simple prank on listeners and rival broadcasters. Either way, stunting is intended as a publicity stunt to generate a greater amount of media publicity and audience attention, by virtue of its shock value, than a straightforward format change could provide.[2] Depending on the station's situation and its management's preference, stunt formats can last anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks before the permanent change is launched.

To a lesser extent, stunting has also been seen on television, most commonly in conjunction with April Fool's Day.

Types of radio stunting and noted examplesEdit

Continuous loopEdit

A station may stunt by repeating the same song or songs over and over on a continuous loop:

Temporary formatsEdit

Occasionally a station dropping an old format will stunt with a transitional format, either containing clues and previews relating to the new format (such as songs referencing its new branding, and artists who may be included in the eventual format), or having little to do with it. This can include songs based on specific themes (such as a single musician), or novelties that would not be viable as a permanent format.

Sound effectsEdit

In a prelude to a format flip, a series of audio clips and sound effects centered around a certain theme may be played. Known as a sound collage, the theme under which these bits of audio fall may or may not have something to do with the previous or new format.

Christmas musicEdit

The popular practice of radio stations playing all-Christmas music during the lead-up to (and occasionally the week after) Christmas Day has sometimes been used as a transitional period between formats. Sometimes, Christmas music is used as a more blatant stunt format outside of the holiday season.[26][27]

  • As a soft launch in April 2008, Saskatoon's new radio station CFWD-FM briefly stunted with Christmas music as Santa FM, accompanied by a promotional campaign in which publicists in Santa costumes paraded through the city. The station ultimately launched as CHR Wired 96.3 (with the station's staff joking that they would eventually grow tired of listening to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" if Christmas music was their permanent format). In November 2012, the station laid off its airstaff and flipped to Christmas music for the season, emerging as adult hits 96.3 Cruz FM on December 26, 2012.[26][28][29][30]
  • In late-September 2015, Duluth's WEBC dropped its sports radio format in favor of Ho Ho 106.5, before emerging in early-October as classic rock Sasquatch 106.5.[31][32][33]
  • In November 2017, CBS Radio and Entercom merged, bringing Seattle's two country music stations, KMPS and KKWF, under common ownership. On the day the merger was completed, KMPS switched to Christmas music, ostensibly for the holiday season. However, on the morning of December 4, 2017, KMPS abruptly ended the all-Christmas programming and flipped to soft adult contemporary as 94.1 The Sound.[34][35] The following year, Entercom's Detroit station WDZH flipped from CHR to the same format in an identical manner (with the station dropping its Amp Radio CHR format for The Rudolph Network, before becoming The Breeze three days later).[36]

On televisionEdit

The most prominent example of stunting on television is the annual April Fools' Day programming on Adult Swim; a false schedule grid is given to guide providers for that night, which has obscured a number of programming stunts over the years, including unannounced previews and premieres (such as the third season premiere of Rick and Morty, and additional episodes of Perfect Hair Forever after its supposed series finale), promising a television premiere of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters before its theatrical release (but only airing the first two minutes, already circulating online, before minimizing it into a comically-small picture-in-picture display over regularly-scheduled programming), the Tommy Wiseau film The Room, and an airing of the anime sub-block Toonami with all programming in Japanese audio with subtitles rather than an English dub (including an unannounced preview of FLCL's third season FLCL Alternative, before its second season Progressive had even aired yet, and an airing of the cult film Mind Game).[37][38][39][40]

Nick Jr. Too, a sister to the British Nick Jr. channel, has occasionally aired long-term marathons of Peppa Pig, during which it has branded as "Nick Jr. Peppa".[41] In a similar manner, Sky Sports has also temporarily rebranded some of its channels to devote them specifically to certain major events, such as The Ashes series in cricket (Sky Sports Ashes),[42] the PDC World Darts Championship (Sky Sports Darts, which in 2015 used its Formula One-specific channel due to its off-season),[43][44] and golf's Open Championship (Sky Sports The Open).[45] From 3 January to 5 February 2019, Sky Sports Action temporarily rebranded as "Sky Sports USA", with programming focusing on the National Football League and National Basketball Association (in anticipation of Super Bowl LIII, and the NBA Global Games series at The O2 Arena in London).[46][47]

At least two networks have used stunting-type events prior to their formal launches: MLB Network, for example, aired a continuous loop of baseball highlights and promos as a "soft launch" in the weeks before its formal debut on January 1, 2009, while Canada's Sun News Network employed an on-screen countdown clock graphic in the hours before its April 18, 2011, launch.[48]

Since 2017, one of ESPN's networks has stunted as "ESPN8" on or near August 8 (8/8), carrying a marathon of programming featuring obscure and unconventional sporting events, with events featured in the marathons having included chess boxing, disc golf, dodgeball, eSports, Highland games, kabaddi, lawn mower racing, mini-golf, and roller derby. The stunt homages the fictitious portrayal of an eighth ESPN channel in the 2004 sports comedy film DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story (a film which, since 2018, has also been featured as part of the lineup), nicknamed "The Ocho" (in reference to ESPN2 being nicknamed "The Deuce" on launch), which carried coverage of events that were "almost a sport". The stunt was originally held on ESPNU—a channel that normally carries college sports programming during the academic year, but moved to ESPN2 beginning in 2018.[49][50][51][52][53]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Ryan Book, "Radio Stunting: Music Stations Repeat One Song All Day, from Performers Such as Led Zeppelin, R.E.M., Kid Rock and More". Music Times, January 1, 2015.
  2. ^ Sharan Shetty, "The Houston Radio Station Playing Only Beyoncé Isn’t Quite As Crazy As It Sounds". Slate, October 8, 2014.
  3. ^ "Why Is a Radio Station Playing 'Hot in Herre' on an Endless Loop?". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  4. ^ "Bay Area Latino radio station 105.7 won't stop playing Nelly's 'Hot in Herre'". SFGate Blog. 2014-03-15. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  5. ^ "How #Nelly1057 Became A Viral Sensation". RadioInsight. 2014-03-16. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  6. ^ Tognazzini, Bruce. "The Bizarre Demise of Mighty 690". AskTog.com.
  7. ^ "Indie88, Toronto's newest radio station, puts the listener in charge". National Post. July 31, 2013. Archived from the original on August 3, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  8. ^ "KOKE-FM Returning To Austin". RadioInsight. 2012-07-04. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  9. ^ Vincent, Peter (2014-04-28). "Double J pays homage to past with Express Yourself stunt". The Age. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  10. ^ Casimir, Paul Chamberlin and Jon (2015-09-02). "Express yourself: The day Triple J played the same N.W.A. song 82 times in a row". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  11. ^ "Here's one for the books". Johns Hopkins Gazette. 24 (38). June 26, 1995.
  12. ^ "Calgary Radio Station X92.9 Plays 'It's The End Of The World' By R.E.M. All Day To Mark Mayan Calendar". Huffington Post. AOL. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Christian music station switches to `all-sex' content". Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. 2006-07-28. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  14. ^ "Pro Active Goes Porn Radio On KFYE". All Access. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  15. ^ "Some Sexy Fresno Fun". All Access. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  16. ^ "WEMP/New York Wakes Up With News Friday". All Access Music Group. August 12, 2011.
  17. ^ Dudek, Duane (June 2, 2010). "Ratings games spur radio identity crisis". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  18. ^ "KDOG Becomes Kung Pao 96.7, Plays The (Chinese) Classic Hits". All Access. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  19. ^ "Believe It Or Not ... 'Kung Pao 100.5 FM' Was A Stunt". All Access. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  20. ^ Dellecese, Dave (2009-05-18). "Just a publicity stunt - KISS FM remains on air despite weekend claims". WKTV. Archived from the original on 2009-05-21. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
  21. ^ "97.3 The Machine San Diego Debuts". RadioInsight. 2018-03-01. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  22. ^ "KEGY (Energy 97.3)/San Diego Turns Off The Top 40, Rocks Out In Prep For New Format". All Access. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  23. ^ "WZNN Starts Stunting". Wisconsin Broadcasting. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  24. ^ Audio of KROI's "construction" stunting in 11/2011[dead link]
  25. ^ KLSX Format Switch on YouTube
  26. ^ a b "Radio station takes down the tree". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  27. ^ "'Tis the Season for Format Flips". Insideradio.com. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  28. ^ "New station jingles all the way". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. Postmedia. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  29. ^ "96.3 Cruzes in Saskatoon". Radio Insight. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  30. ^ "Saskatoon radio station lays off staff". CBC News. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  31. ^ "All-Christmas radio moves to classic rock". Duluth News-Tribune. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  32. ^ "Duluth radio station switches from sports to Christmas music..." Duluth News-Tribune. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  33. ^ "Duluth Radio Station Claims Permanent Switch To Year-Round Christmas Music". CBS Minnesota. 2015-10-02. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  34. ^ "KMPS Christmas Flip Fuels Talk Of Post-Holiday Changes". Insideradio.com. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
  35. ^ "Seattle radio's king of country goes soft rock". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
  36. ^ "98.7 swaps pop hits for soft contemporary as The Breeze". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  37. ^ "Internet Reacts To Toonami's April Fool's Day Anime Stunt". ComicBook.com. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  38. ^ Osborn, Alex (2018-03-31). "FLCL: Alternative Stealth Debuted on Toonami for April Fool's Day". IGN. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  39. ^ Cobb, Kayla (April 18, 2017). "10 of The Craziest And Most Controversial Things Adult Swim Has Done". Decider. New York Post. Archived from the original on July 18, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  40. ^ Matar, Joe. "Rick and Morty Season 3 Episode 1 Review: The Rickshank Rickdemption". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on April 4, 2017. Retrieved June 4, 2017.
  41. ^ Wallop, Harry (2013-10-08). "Dad of four: a family united by Peppa Pig". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-12-01.
  42. ^ "The Ashes 2013: Sky Sports dedicates channel to the Ashes". Sky Sports. 13 June 2013.
  43. ^ "Sky Sports Darts returns for PDC World Championship". Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  44. ^ Briel, Robert (15 November 2014). "Sky Sports launches darts channel". Broadband TV News. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  45. ^ "Sky dedicates channel to The Open, does U-turn on channel numbers". Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  46. ^ "Sky launching dedicated American sports channel". Digital TV Europe. 20 December 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  47. ^ Mann, Colin. "Sky Sports USA pop-up channel". advanced-television.com. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
  48. ^ Ladurantaye, Steve (April 18, 2011). "Sun News Network launches with anchor as Sunshine Girl". The Globe and Mail.
  49. ^ "ESPN is creating ESPN8: 'The Ocho' for one glorious day". SB Nation. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  50. ^ Rosenthal, Phil. "'ESPN8: The Ocho' to replace ESPNU — if only for a day". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-08-28.
  51. ^ Steinberg, Brian (August 8, 2018). "Bold strategy, Cotton: Inside ESPN's crazy plans to turn 'The Ocho' into a business". Variety. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
  52. ^ Morona, Joey (2019-08-06). "ESPN8: The Ocho returns with pizza dough throwing, sign spinning, lawn mower races and more weird sports". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
  53. ^ Daniels, Tim. "ESPN8 The Ocho: Top Highlights, Funny Reaction, Schedule for Wednesday's Events". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2019-08-15.