“Flint to Flint to Flint”

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CHAPTER SIXTY-FOUR

FLINT TO FLINT TO FLINT

Well, how could we follow-up on “The Great Escape”? Great ideas often come from passing thoughts exchanged in pleasant conversation. I was hanging out one night with our station attorney, Jim Zimmer. We were at The White Horse, a tavern near downtown Flint. Jim was talking about law school and interesting things he had discovered on his way to the bar.

Did you know there’s an island called Flint?”

“Where?”

“In the middle of fucking nowhere. It’s out in the goddamn South Pacific.”

“Its name is FLINT?”

FLINT!!”

That’s all I needed to hear. Research the following day revealed that the island of Flint was part of the Republic of Kiribati. It was a three and a-half by half mile coral reef in the deep South Pacific, existing totally uninhabited, approximately four hundred miles north of Papeete, Tahiti. It was discovered by American sailors in 1798. Flint was described as a “tropical paradise” and was heavily wooded. The island surrounded a deep, blue lagoon with an average, year-round temperature of 77 degrees. It was ten degrees south of the Equator.

Flint Island--Actual Picture

The promotion took two months to arrange. With cooperation from the U.S. State Department, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Republic of Kiribati, The British State Department, The French Department of State, the government of French Polynesia and an extraordinarily resourceful travel agency in Venice, California, our prize package was complete.

WWCK would give away a “Trip to Flint!”

We first announced that we were about to introduce the greatest radio promotion in the history of Michigan and it would mean journeying “from Flint to Flint to Flint”. No one was sure if we were doing some sort of weird campaign for the Chamber of Commerce or had simply lost our minds. After a week of teasing, the complete outline of the promotion was presented in a masterfully produced fifteen minute announcement which had taken over twenty hours to complete. It had everything and each step of the mission was introduced with sound effects, staging music and killer narrative.

The approach was quite simple. WWCK had discovered there was an island called “Flint” in the South Pacific. We wanted to prepare a “WWCK Time Capsule” filled with contemporary artifacts from Flint, Michigan. We needed a willing couple to travel to the island and bury the capsule beneath the sand where it would “await discovery by some future civilization who will know of us all through the incredible achievement of our winning couple”. We also had an imaginary “WWCK Time Capsule” which we would hide “somewhere in our 105 FM listening area”. We would give clues. Whoever eventually guessed the location would head for Flint!

And what a trip it would be!

Our winners would be picked-up in the WWCK “Super Van” and be driven to Metro Airport in Detroit, from which they would fly to Las Vegas for twenty-four hours of casino enjoyment and a Master Suite at the MGM Grand. The next morning, it was on to Los Angeles for another twenty-four hour stop-over with studio tours and a visit to Disneyland. Then the real excitement would begin. There would be a non-stop flight to Papeete, Tahiti via “Air Tunguru” and several days of enjoyment at the luxurious Te Puna Bel Air Resort in a private bungalow, adjacent to a natural spring-fed pool. After taking in the sights and sounds of Papeete and its surroundings, our couple would board the fifty-four foot schooner “Mimetaga” and be the only passengers aboard this special WWCK charter, heading romantically north with professional, licensed crew to “The Lost Island of Flint”.

The vessel would be piloted by the “legendary Captain Michel” who, through an interpreter, stated that he “understood WWCK’s mission and philosophy with excitement and enthusiasm”. After five days of voyage on the “Mimetaga”, offering “private air-conditioned cabins with plenty of food and refreshment of every kind”, the schooner would anchor off “Flint” and all aboard would set ashore at dawn for a day of exploration as “Rock ‘n Roll Robinson Crusoes” and complete their day at sunset by burying a genuine “Time Capsule” in the “eternal sand”.

It was all real! The City of Flint went crazy!! It was a MOTHER FUCKER!!!

Newspaper and television coverage for WWCK was continuous during the entire duration of the promotion.

The eventual ratings of a 14.3% total audience share during the “Trip to Flint” period was not only the best in the history of the station, but the highest measurement by market share of any Album Rock station in the entire country.

WWCK was voted “Album Rock Station of the Year” by Burkhart/Abrams and Billboard Magazine. The “Trip to Flint” campaign won not only a “Gold First Place Addy” from the Flint Area Advertising Federation, but was determined by the judges to be “Best of Show”, beating not only other local media efforts in all categories of entry, but also national Buick Motor Division advertising for the entire year! Cool!!

“Flint to Flint”–WWCK

Narration by Art Morrison--KCBS, San Francisco

Produced by Randy Stephenson--President--RMS Studios, Detroit

Written by Peter Cavanaugh, Oakhurst, CA

Our “Trip to Flint” winning couple seemed to be ideal. They were both educated and articulate and appeared thoroughly enchanted by their pending journey. They pledged total cooperation in calling-in reports and video-taping highlights of their adventure. She did her best to keep things together. It might have been better if he had not turned-out to be a raging alcoholic of vicious disposition.

I had asked the couple what their favorite beverages were so we could surprise them with a toast beginning their journey in our Super Van on the way to the airport in Detroit. He killed his pint of Jack Daniels before we hit the parking lot at Metro. What have we here?

They lost several thousand station-provided dollars of spending money in Las Vegas. It had been “stolen from their room”. Sure. They were broke. I wired another two grand.

They finally made it to Papeete and he tried to sell their boat passage for cash. They were thrown-out of their hotel for various forms of misbehavior. All reports indicated he was regularly beating the shit out of her. Screw it. I ordered the mission scrubbed and the couple sent home.

He went directly to the press and complained about the “nightmare” he had found in Tahiti with “machine-gun toting natives” and “third world accomodations”. I was quoted as saying that WWCK felt sorry that the couple had reacted so negatively and that it was clear “personal issues beyond our control” had rendered the vacation disappointing. All in all, we got very fair and favorable local coverage. The “National Globe” ran hubby’s version.

Jim Zimmer and I told the asshole that we would sue for everything he had and tell the whole world the real story if he didn’t shut-the-fuck-up. He agreed to do so. Not too soon after, he threatened to burn-down his house with wife inside. She had already gone to the police. The conversation was wire-tapped. He served two years in a Federal slammer. Fuck him. All’s well that ends well.

I had become President of the Flint Ad Club and was chosen “Businessman of the Year” by Flint Sales and Marketing Executives, a unique distinction for me and for radio . In April of 1983, Frazier asked me to move to Toledo and accept appointment as Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Reams Broadcasting.

One Response to ““Flint to Flint to Flint””

  1. “Flint to Flint to Flint!” « Peter Cavanaugh’s Blog Says:

    Wow!

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