The Secret Life and Lies of Radio

Most local radio is a godsend to a community, it can bring news and information and also can help to bond a community. It brings people together by organizing community events and arranging chat shows on air when local topics can be discussed by the people. However, some radio stations are run more ethically than others. And a recent survey by radio watchdog ABC’s Media Watch in Australia has thrown up some shocking tricks and deceits by some radio stations. One such recent incident was by Nova Radio who held a competition on air and duplicated the prizes for tickets to an Adele concert.

Networks Secrets

For years radio stations all over the world have been conning their audiences with such tricks as this. Nearly every station is culpable of some sort of chicanery. Some of it can be quite innocent with real prizes to be won, but no radio station is going to give away their star prize to the first caller phoning in with an answer. The question is why do radio stations behave like this? The short answer is because they can usually get away with it!

Spin the Wheel

One regional radio station in Australia used to run a popular morning competition. There was a type of roulette wheel in the studio that had different amounts of cash to be won. The presenter of the show years later admitted he often switched a winning call for dollars to a simple fast food voucher, so the cash prize would roll on and more people would tune into his show. The same station ran another competition scam where callers could win a raffle ticket if they answered a question correctly, they used bogus numbers so the competition ran on for a lengthy period of time without give large sums of cash away.

Bogus Winners

Another common ruse is to have bogus winners, and friends and family of the presenters were taped falsely accepting fake prizes as winners. Often the only so called prize was a free beer for joining in on the scam. It gets worse with large radio networks that have multiple locations. Callers can be edited out from certain locations, then at a later date they could be distributed to other stations on the network. These satellite stations could play the calls sounding like there had been local winners of big prizes.


The real benefit of keeping a competition rolling over a period of time is not just holding on to the prize. The more popular the competition becomes the more listeners it attracts. And any show with a large audience straight away attracts the attention of advertisers. The money that can be made from a hit radio competition show from advertising can be immense, far outweighing that of the cash prize being given away.

This all sounds like we are in the hands of unscrupulous radio magnets that will do almost anything to keep their stations at the top of the ratings lists. In some cases unfortunately this is true, but it is not happening all the time by every radio station in the world. And as somebody once said keep the faith, as slightly crooked radio is better than no radio at all.