WRIF/Detroit (Greater Media) did something bold in 2013. They switched up their morning shows, saying goodbye to the always-popular Drew and Mike Show that everyone in Detroit knew. The station decided to take a chance on Dave and Chuck the Freak, the young duo from 89X, thinking they’d be a good match for the well-established 40+ year-old brand.
Mark Pennington, who is in charge at WRIF, thinks one cool thing about the new show is how connected it is with the audience. According to him, Dave and Chuck are super social, always posting stuff while on the air and even when they’re not working—on weekends, during the day, and even on vacation.
Before joining WRIF, when Dave and Chuck had some free time between their old job and the new one, they didn’t just chill. Instead, they went all out with their online stuff. They launched a mobile app called Dave and Chuck the Freak’s Kick Ass Game for fans of the show.
Pennington thinks the game fits perfectly with the show and the station. According to him, it’s like an extra dose of the show’s humour and attitude, giving Dave and Chuck another cool way to connect with their huge fan base.
For WRIF, going beyond just being on the radio is nothing new. Pennington mentions how they’ve always tried creative ways to promote the station, like teaming up with Kid Rock’s ‘Made in Detroit’ clothing line and even making their own beer. As long as it’s done right, he believes it’s awesome to try out new and unique ways to promote well-known brands like WRIF or Dave and Chuck the Freak.
Since the game started, Dave and Chuck have made it even cooler by adding new levels and coming up with creative ways to involve the listeners. They ran a contest where the winners got turned into digital characters and put into the game. It’s like the fans become a part of Dave & Chuck’s world.
Pennington thinks there are even more cool things they can do in the future. He sees this game as just the beginning of a series. Instead of just selling regular ads, they could say, “Hey, want your logo and product in our next game?” There’s a lot of potential to make awesome stuff for the audience, make more money, and satisfy the needs of digital advertisers.
Because they have a special way of connecting with their audience and using digital tools, we wanted Dave Hunter from the show to talk about the game and how they connect with fans for this week’s Radio’s Most Innovative.
Why did you guys decide to make a video game for the show?
Well, before we started at WRIF, we had to take a 6-month break where we couldn’t do anything similar. We couldn’t even talk about where we were going or what we were up to. So, we thought making a game would be a really cool way to keep the show’s vibe going during our break.
We always like to give our listeners ways to be part of the show, even when we’re not on the air, and making a game just felt like the next step.
Why did you think making a video game was a good idea for your audience?
To be honest, it was more of a feeling than looking at specific data. We just had this gut feeling that our main listeners would really dig a different, interactive, and fun video game that featured all our characters.
What was the toughest part of getting the project going, and how did you handle it?
We were lucky to have the folks at Red Piston, Inc. as our developers, and they were fans of the show, too. So, they were as much into it as we were. The real challenge was letting people know about the game, especially when we weren’t on the air.
We mainly used social media and asked our listeners to share the game, and it worked out pretty well for us.
How the game has helped make the show more known
The show is all about interaction, whether on calls or social media. This game is just another way to keep the show in people’s minds. Even after the show ends, listeners can catch up on the podcast, tune in to the 24/7 stream, or visit our website.
Now, they can also play a game as Dave or Chuck the Freak, maybe even at the dentist’s office, and still feel connected to our show.
How did you pick the type of game to make
The Red Piston team played a big role here. They had some awesome ideas that we could use to match the vibe of the show. The game has different levels, making it like many games in one.
How did you feel when you first saw cartoon versions of yourselves in the game
It was awesome to see little animated versions of us in a video game. We felt like excited kids. LOL! We were nervous about how it would turn out, but the Red Piston guys amazed us with how awesome it looked.
Why did you decide to charge for the game instead of making it free?
Making apps costs money, especially when each level is like a new animated game. So, the 99¢ fee is a way to help the developers get back some of the money they spent on all the hard work. None of us on the show make any money from the game.
When did you decide to involve the audience in the game?
We’re always trying to find ways to get our listeners into the show, so this felt like the next natural step. We know how awesome it felt for us to be in our own video game, and we wanted our listeners to feel that, too.
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How did the listeners react to the contest, and what did the winners think when they saw themselves in the game?
The audience response was amazing, and the winners were super excited to see their cartoon versions for the first time. They were just really happy to be part of the game. We mean, who wouldn’t love seeing themselves in a cool video game?
If another show or station wants to make a game, what’s your advice?
First, make sure you have clear characters and a solid plan for the game. Think about what types of games would work best and map out how you see it happening.
What advice do you have for smaller shows with cool ideas that don’t know how to start?
Always think about your listeners. What are they into? What do they like doing? Try to be a part of that in some way. Build your brand in every way possible. You don’t need a video game for that. Responding to emails, tweets, and Facebook posts and saying hi to people when you’re out can go a long way in building a loyal listener base.
Who’s better at the game, you or Chuck?
Chuck is way more into gaming than I am. No doubt, he’s got a higher score.