COVID WIN: Small-Market Radio Secures $90K in 4 Months

by Kelli Frieler Leighton Broadcasting

Case Study Highlights

  • $90,000 in four months during COVID-19
  • Virtual event saves annual Home Show revenue
  • Thousands of hot, qualified leads for advertisers
  • On-air talent thrilled to be involved
  • Sponsor loved digital promotion alternative to on-site event
  • Monetized existing station initiatives

Our team at Leighton Broadcasting, a small-market radio group based in St. Cloud, Minnesota, signed on with Second Street right at the beginning of COVID-19. During this pandemic, we’ve found contests and interactive content provide fantastic results for our advertisers, something they need now more than ever. As a result of that, in just the four months since July, we’ve generated over $90,000 in revenue!

Here are eight of our most recent success stories that generated database growth, digital traffic, and qualified leads for our advertisers:

Virtual Home and Garden Show

This year, COVID restrictions led us to take our annual Home and Garden Show event virtual! We utilized an advertiser showcase to feature 45 virtual ‘booths’ for our local businesses. This format allowed each business to host their own sweepstakes and reap the benefits of an individual contest. On the entry form of each sweepstakes included an opt-in for the business’ email list and three lead-generation questions.

This creative solution to our nearly-canceled event retained $70,000 in revenue and provided 2,500 leads across our sponsors. The campaign was so successful we plan to run a virtual campaign again next year even if we are able to host our in-person event.

KXRA-FM virtual spring home and garden show

Virtual Baby Expo

When COVID began limiting in-person events, we knew we’d have to make some creative adjustments to run our annual First Steps Baby Expo. To take the event online, we created a private Facebook group. There we hosted virtual 15-minute video-seminars from our favorite brands, baby experts, and First Steps Baby Expo team. Each of these segments included a sweepstakes from the sponsor that required a special codeword provided during the session. The sweepstakes provided these businesses another chance to share why their business is essential to new parents and families.

heavenly treats baby expo

Additionally, to promote the Baby Expo, we also ran two sponsored sweepstakes: a photo contest and a grocery giveaway. The photo contest was sponsored by a local portrait photographer and gave away a free session and print (valued at $375). Our grocery sweepstakes was sponsored by two businesses – a local supermarket and the baby food brand Tippy Toes – and gave away a $1,000 grocery gift card.

Baby Expo lead-up promos

Happy, Warm & Satisfied Sweepstakes

Our station KCLD-FM partnered with a local HVAC sponsor for a great lead-generation sweepstakes campaign. With a prize of a new unit valued over $4,000, we knew the contest would attract homeowners in need of a new furnace. To drive additional participation, we utilized extra chances for referring a friend and liking the sponsor’s Facebook page.

This business has a very fun brand, and we wanted to create a contest to fit that persona. To do this, we customized lead-generation questions to fit the brand’s voice and were able to generate a great list of 18 qualified leads in need of a new furnace.

Happy, Warm & Satisfied Sweepstakes

Best of Local High School Sports Ballot

We knew COVID would limit high school sports and decided to get in front of it with a unique ballot. We created this Best of Local High School Sports with ten categories to spotlight local sports. The team secured Lutgen Companies to sponsor, and they provided a donation to the Athletic Department for each category a school won. And to drive even more engagement, they also included gift card prizes for five random participants.

The entry form included three lead-generation questions for our sponsor:

  1. Where are you most likely to purchase a BUBBL’R?
  2. What is your favorite flavor of Gatorade?
  3. If you could add a new flavor to the BUBBL’R lineup, what would it be? (Current flavors include: blood orange mango, cherry guava, cranberry grapefruit, passion fruit, pitaya berry, pomegranate acai & twisted elix’r)

Best of Local High School Sports Ballot

This three-phase ballot generated $2,220 in revenue for our station and served as a catalyst for content for our local sport shows.

Live Free for a Month Sweepstakes

Our station KCLD-FM usually hosts on-site sampling events for a local Mountain Dew distribution advertiser for product features. This year the station found a unique way to retain that partnership and revenue with this promotion.

Live Free for a Month Sweepstakes

We created a schedule of short, outdoor events at the location of local suppliers where we’d broadcast on Facebook Live. Users had to visit that location at a specific time to attain a QR code and earn an entry to the sweepstakes for $5,000. This was a smart way to interact with our audience while still maintaining safe social distance.

The registration form of the contest included two lead-generation questions for the sponsor to ask users their favorite Mountain Dew flavor and where they typically buy Mountain Dew. The client loved the COVID-alternative event, quick growth of their email database, and the valuable consumer information collected from the lead-generation questions.

Pro Football Pick’em

With the ever-present uncertainty of the football season, we had to find creative solutions to retain our advertiser revenue and provide content for our sports stations. We sold this Pro Football Pick’em bundle across three markets (KXRA-AM, KCLD-FM, KZPK-FM). Coors Light sponsored in two markets and a local auto dealer sponsored the other. Our on-air talent loved the contest and the conversations it prompted on air.

This was a huge win for our team! We generated $45,000 in advertiser revenue and provided our sports stations and socials with fantastic content. The campaign will run through the fall and provide recurring leads, engagement, and long-term value for our team and sponsors.

coors light pro football pick'em

Hometown Bracket Challenge

This year we adapted our Hometown Bracket Challenge campaign to the upgraded Second Street platform. We had not sold the contest in the past, but saw this as a missed opportunity. Not only did the new platform provide new opportunities for exposure, but also it provided businesses with valuable consumer insight using lead-generation questions.

The bracket asked our audience to vote for their favorite hometown round after round, which is a fun way to drive repeat website traffic. This year our sponsor, Home of Economy, utilized the exposure to promote their new e-commerce site and collect important consumer information.

Hometown Bracket Challenge

We included the sponsor logo on branding materials and the bracket graphics and included links to their new e-commerce store. On the registration form of the bracket, we included two lead-generation questions:

  1. What is your favorite brand(s) for outdoor power equipment?
  2. Permission to contact the user with more information.

Those who opted-in received a special email with offers on the sponsors site, which was a fantastic way to drive sales!

Salute to Seniors Photo Contest

With traditional graduation ceremonies cancelled, our clients were eager to find a way to recognize seniors in a different format. We decided to create this Salute to Seniors photo contest with a local Chevy Dealership to invite our audience to share a photo of their grad with a tribute message. Each submission was entered into a sweepstakes for local prizes. We turned the submissions into a Salute to Seniors Tribute Video uploaded to our sponsor’s website. Not only did this engage our community and graduating seniors, but it also drove website traffic for our station and sponsors!


Salute to Seniors Photo Contest


We blew our initial revenue goals out of the water! Just since July, we’ve generated over $90,000 with on-air and digital promotions – $55,000 of that was pure digital!


The success we’ve seen this year taught our sales reps to sell outcomes over eyeballs, which is more valuable to our advertisers now more than ever. Our investment in the SecondStreet platform and promotions as a strategy has really paid off. So much so that we plan to continue utilizing the digital/virtual aspect of our events even when we are able to host them in-person again.

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