THE FUNNIEST RADIO CONTEST EVER?
Way back in the dim-lit corners of my mysterious past, I became the program director for a major Los Angeles radio station. It was the first time I'd been given such a hallowed position and I took it seriously. I wanted to create the most exciting and innovative rock station of all time.
I was 24 years old, full of energy, and dedicated myself to doing something totally original. I worked around the clock. KRLA became a dominant, number one station in six months.
The promotion that put us over the top, was one of the funniest radio contests of all time. Our competition, the legendary KHJ, had just gone on the air the air with what I felt was the pinnacle of crass radio mentality. It was almost sacrilegious, they took the new hit musical "Jesus Christ, Superstar," and made it into a contest.
I decided to do a parody of them, contests in general and everything they were doing, while at the same time giving away huge money, and making it really funny. I told my great writer friend Tim Hallinan about "The Great KRLA 'Soup or Star' Contest!" and we started laughing and writing notes.
Overnight we'd come up with a classic moment in radio history - or at least we thought so - there were 7 stars floating in 7 kinds of soup. If you named the star and the soup they were floating in, you'd win $10,000, in cash, and a can of the soup of your choice.” It was played every hour and if you guessed wrong, you'd win "Your choice, a can of Split Pea, Bean 'n Bacon, or Beef Noodle Soup! And $100 in cash!"
Each hour, people would call in to win. The dramatic music from the musical would play, “Hosanna Superstar, Hosanna Superstar,” as the soup bubbled and the earnest caller would say, “Hi, I’m Jim Gary, from Inglewood: split pea and Tommy Smothers; bean and bacon and Johnny Carson...” It was hilarious. You wouldn’t know what would come up.
Today, in an old box, I found the original files from that era, including rating sheets validating my memory of having done extraordinarily well. It seemed like everyone everywhere was listening. It was classic and I wanted to share it with you.
The promos started with a huge chant: "Money-money-money-money"
To win the ten thousand dollar cahs jack pot, the contestant must correctly identify the seven kinds of soup in the KRLA Soup or Star Stew:
3. Cream of Celery
4. Vegetable Beef
5. Chicken Noodle
6. Split Pea
Plus, he or she must correctly identify the seven mystery "stars" ...
1. Dick Clark
2. Tommy Chong
3. Barbara Hershey
4. Tommy Smothers
5. Eddie from Zachary All: (described as: a local television personality known for a long running series of Southern California TV commercials. He has become well known from the frequent repetition of the commercials and is considered a "camp" type of entertainment in the same manner as Ralph Williams) - (I also have the signed agreement from each "star" agreeing not to divulge their identities to any persons or parties in order to illegally help or assist said persons or parties participate in the KRLA Soup or Star Contest - Zachary All was Edward Nalbandian)
6. Cher Bono
7. Rob Reiner
We had ongoing CLUES given on the air that were rhymes:
One of our stars, he's perhaps the least silly, he could be elected the mayor of Philly
You can depend on one star to be courtly, whether you're standard, or skinny, or portly
The way that he floats, you might think that he'd fall, one of our stars always gives us his All
Floating in circles across your TV, double knit bargains are what you will see
Clever and liberal, he lives in this city, one of our stars was in "The Committee"
When you've got talent and riches and fame, why should you bother with more than one name?
One of our bubbling soup-laden stars, has a famous relation who races in cars
Lovely enough to deprave you of reason, one of our stars has been linked with a season.
If one of our stars, were afloat in your bowl, you'd know what kind of restaurant, without being told
One of our stars gives his fans a strange yen, right after they see him, they're laughing again.
What a life!