Hit the road Jack!

People in the UK of a certain age will remember the popular Radio 1 Roadshow.

During the summer BBC Radio 1’s DJs would travel up and down the UK to stage huge shows drawing 1000s of people hoping to see the DJs doing live broadcasts and hear the hits. Part radio show, part disco, the live events were lots of fun for the crowds who could take part in contests (such as guessing the number of miles the crew had driven that day) and win instant prizes.

The shows always created a buzz when the Radio 1 crew rolled in to town to set up the stage and marquee at some park or beach. And the beauty was that even if you couldn’t get to the show; you could hear it live on the radio.

I mention this because doing a live show in a public place really can help promote your digital radio station. And it is much easier to do this today than it was.

First off; where can you set up a live show where you can draw a crowd and promote your station? Well…let me see:

  • The local fete
  • Farmers’ market
  • Shopping mall
  • School / College sports day
  • Charity fundraiser
  • Shopping Mall
  • Vintage car meet
  • Local festival
  • Any large public event that needs music

The key though is branding. You have to make an impact, and to do this you (ideally) need…

  • Flags and banners with your station name and logo*
  • All your team wearing station-branded clothing – T-shirts and caps
  • Radio station branded car stickers, badges, caps, and cards, to give away
  • A bundle of enthusiastic happy volunteers to meet and greet the crowds and tell them about your station
  • Power supply
  • Laptop with wifi. Amps and loud speakers. Perhaps a disco light show
  • Wifi service to broadcast your shows live
  • Shelter from sun, wind, or rain – marque, open-sided tent, or a caravan
  • Public liability insurance (take advice on any other insurances you may need)
  • Public performance music license

In short, when people pass by your stand or marquee it has to look impressive and professional.

Broadcasting live from the venue is not essential; but wouldn’t it be great to be live for at least a few hours so you can invite listeners to come-on-down to meet the crew and visit the showground.


It will be a long day though; expect to be at the event for around 5 to 6 hours (plus setting up and breaking down) and you can’t expect all your meet-and-greet volunteers to be there all day; so draw up a list and assign one to two hours each.

Give your DJs a slot each and encourage them to mingle with the crowd to chat with them on air and run a few fun contests.


As for prizes; twist the arm of some local retailers for free cinema tickets, nightclub entry, and well…use your imagination – who do you know that might give you something as a prize? But be careful about raffles as there may be legal implications with the Gaming Act or some such thing.

Our advice: Keep contests simple; silly, fun, and give the prize to the winner there and then – job done. You don’t want to get involved in names and addresses and remembering who won what and how to get the prize to them (winners may live out of town).

Going out on the road can be an effective branding and promotion exercise. Not only that; if you are basically the free entertainment for some worthy cause then that can’t hurt. You will make some great contacts and perhaps attract some paid advertising too!

The pitch

Once you have identified an event you want to support you need to track down the organizer and offer them your roadshow.

  • You can provide on-air promotion of their event
  • Provide music and entertainment on the day
  • Contests and prizes
  • Live broadcasting from the event

Be prepared to make the roadshow worthwhile for your station by doing more than one a year (save the malls for winter). If one of your team is a mobile disco operator then this could solve a lot of problems for the radio station roadshow.

Remember, the aim of the exercise is to promote your station – not provide the event organizer with free music and entertainment. That’s the by-product.


A word of caution though. Just because you are offering to attend someone else’s event it doesn’t mean you should be taken advantage of. By, for example, being placed in some out-of -the-way corner; or being put-upon to be the un-paid overburdened PA service for the event.

Because you will promote your live roadshow on air you will be helping to promote and market someone else’s event and your station’s roadshow will add to the event’s attractions. So keep it professional and discuss where you’d like to be located at the event and find the right balance that suits you. Running a live show can be expensive and time consuming. Don’t allow yourself to be exploited.

Consider asking for expenses to cover music license, insurance, petrol, gear hire etc. If you do it well you might be invited back next year; and perhaps start charging a fee…

Start looking now for events you can align yourself with and plan ahead. You can start by promoting your station’s roadshow on air and see who comes out of the woodwork to book it.

*Station logos: If you are going to print your station logo on products make sure it works. Is it legible? Do the colours work together?

Compare what you have to what the leading commercial stations use (you can learn a lot by studying their logos and websites). Keep your logo simple and clear. My advice is to get professional help from a designer. A good logo will have a long shelf life – it is worth the investment to get it right.

Steve Hart

Steve Hart

Steve Hart is a journalist and editor based in Melbourne.

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