Space is the Place!

We didn’t have the gargantuan promotion and marketing budget our competitors believed we had.

Often, an unconventional spontaneous idea would blossom into a promotion opportunity. This was one of them.

It was mid-September, 1975 and we were just a few weeks away from an important ratings survey period. We were always trying to conceptualize ways to further increase WMMS visibility. Our direct competitor, M-105, had been on-the-air since March and had the summer and early fall to establish itself as an option to WMMS. It was war!

One Saturday night Buzzard artist David Helton, programming assistant Rhonda Kiefer and I were watching a new episode of Space: 1999, the British sci-fi series. WUAB, Channel 43 had created a Saturday night block with reruns of the original Star Trek at 6 PM as a lead to the new Space: 1999 series at 7. By the end of the show, we had come up with a rather bizarre plan to increase our visibility on WUAB while helping it promote their Saturday night sci-fi block. The following Monday, we met with our promotion director Dan Garfinkel – and within the hour we were ready to roll with a proposal for WUAB.

WUAB loved the promotion and felt it was a good match with WMMS since they were aiming the shows at 12-34 year olds.

We marketed a limited edition WMMS/WUAB Space Shirt. The front had the Buzzard in a top-down convertible flying saucer. On the back was WUAB’s promotion for Star Trek and Space: 1999. We called the shirt Space is the Place, a double entendre for you-know-what.

To promote it on WUAB, we persuaded them to use (who else?) Murray Saul as the talent. It was done using a primitive split-screen – and Murray did it in one take. Or was that toke?

It did well for both stations. The T-shirts sold out. We got our visibility and WUAB’s ratings were solid enough for to renew Space: 1999 for a second season – and in the same time slot – and keeping Star Trek as the lead-in show.

More on WMMS – 1975 in Chapters 10 & 11 in The Buzzard

Murray Saul’s The Get Downs, Vol. 1(TaurusGold) is available from Amazon.com and select retail outlets. Distributed by Traditions Alive, Lakewood, OH 216.226.6200

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