Published on February 18, 2000
The Knoxville News Sentinel
By Walker Johnson
Most shootouts happen at high noon, but last Friday one took place 30 minutes
early. At 11:30 a.m., folks from the Journal Broadcast Group arrived en masse
at the WIVK glass house in the Knoxville Center mall with their eyes narrowed
and money flashing. Read the full info here Carollynn Hammersmith, Journal
promotional director, said the Journal people were there to free the captors
of the house and return themto safety.
"We watched the promotion and saw the conditions inside
the house, and we knew that both of the contestants were unhappy. We just felt
there had to be two winners. The promotion was great, but the people in the
house were doing all the work. The contest outgrew WIVK and just became about
these people," she said.
So when did Journal Broadcasting decide to offer $10,000 to the first one out
of the house? Hammersmith said it was sort of spontaneous. She said that her
stations (WMYU and WQIX) had talked about doing it, and Friday morning "it
just all happened." "This was not an attempt to sabotage WIVK’s promotion
or some sort of guerrilla tactic, but it was all about the people inside,"
she said. When asked if she called WIVK to tell them of the Journal’s plan to
help the contestants she said, "Why should we?" Was it for the publicity
or was it just about getting the two remaining contestants back with their families?
Hammersmith insists it was only for the welfare of the contestants and had nothing
to do with a coattail ride.
Steve Queisser, WIVK promotion director, said, "We are very flattered
that competitors want to be in our contests. This just continues to reinforce
the fact that we are capturing both the listeners and the attention of other
stations." Starting Monday, WIVK does it all over again. This time the
prize is $30,000, and the bathroom breaks are limited to only one every seven
hours. The house will start with seven contestants. When asked if the Journal
would again come over with cash to lure out a contestant or two, Hammersmith
said, "I have no idea if we would do it again. "We really try not
to pay attention to what the other stations are doing because it takes our eye
off the ball. They did have a great idea, but people suffered, and I am amazed
they are going to do it again."
Questions for Walker Johnson, a local broadcast personality, should be e-mailed
to email@example.com or addressed to Walker Johnson, Weekend!, The News-Sentinel,
P.O. Box 59038, Knoxville, TN 37950-9038.