22 December 2015

about a radio call-in contest

The year was 1999. I was driving around the Oakland/Berkeley area, locally referred to as the East Bay, and some FM radio station I was listening to was giving away concert tickets. I listened for the phone number, and rushed to pull over so I could use my wireless phone safely.

I was the correct caller, and the DJ who answered the phone did the standard thing of asking questions and recording the call to play back on the air. At the end of the call, she asked me my favorite radio station.


I wasn't a regular FM radio listener anymore. I certainly didn't have any loyalty to the stations in my area. But it was a nice distraction in the absence of other things to listen to. Digital audio players apparently existed for a year by that point, but I didn't own one yet.

So I had maybe two seconds, tops, to remember and say the name of this station, who were so generously giving me two tickets to an upcoming concert.

Let's see, what frequency am I on? 101-something. I don't have that car anymore, so I don't remember what the radio tuner looked like. But it was definitely factory, so I did an image search and see that the radio had a digital frequency display. So I was likely looking at 101.3 on the tuner display. And it's not one of the callsigns I know. Embarrassingly enough, I knew the callsign of the local smooth jazz station, KKSF (since changed to KOSF, and with a different format now). And there was the ubiquitous KOIT, the easy listening station that you might hear in a dentist's office. As for this frequency? The station's identity hadn't been stored in my brain yet.

I had a good guess, and decided to go with it rather than admit I didn't know what station I was calling. I mumbled through the branding for the station, which was correct, and heard it played back a few minutes later on the broadcast.

Thank you, KIOI aka K-101, for those concert tickets!