Santa arrived early and often this year with a PAC full of election cash. Santa PAC-man gobbled up air time leaving swear time (for listeners). If you’ve ever cursed political ads, raise your hand. Even if you’re a broadcaster, you push a finger in the air. But, admit it, with your other hand, you’re grabbing the cash—it’s a needed boon in budget-busted year. But that’s not the end of this story. This is the story of a movement birthed out of months of political advertising indi-gestation.

On November 19th, the owners of our local radio stations in our small city began sharing some of Santa PAC-man’s cash with its two primary clients: listeners and advertisers.* Each weekday for 24 days, one listener wins $1000 in gift cards and cash in a text-to-win promotion called “A Helping Grand.” The $1000/day is a combination of $100 in cash and $900 in local gift cards.

The station owners surprised and delighted the local businesses by buying gift cards outright (not asking for a trade). The radio station group is the sole sponsor. No other sponsors were solicited. Based on the number of daily entries, listeners love the contest too. The winners are using the gift cards and they’re giving them to others as tips or gifts. The after-the-win promos are a strata of uplifting comments.

Now, here’s where it morphs into a movement.

What does that mean? Other businesses are joining in the giveaway. It started with a first follower. Derek Sivers shares the “first follower” concept in his fantastic TED video. Watch it. It’s only 2:52. Derek’s concise observations help explain this feel-good story.


This movement is similar to Derek’s dancer; however this dance was started by a public player (a lone company, but sizeable at 9 stations); not Derek’s “lone nut.” Like Derek’s video shows, the first follower came forward. “We want to donate. How do we do that?” And so it began.

At this writing, the station group has added 21 more days ($21,000) to the giveaway–all donated by local businesses. The station group does not solicit the businesses, give them ads, or guarantee a number of name mentions. Most of the businesses are not regular advertisers.

Kudos to the station’s owners for the promotion—no trades, no ratings period, and no sponsor promises. The first follower joined and many have followed. You can lead the way to a better 2021. You will start alone in public. You will gather that first follower…or be one yourself. That’s how movements begin.

*Full Disclosure—I also work for this great group of people