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What would life be without radio?

We're supposed to find out on Friday, May 26, at 7:42 a.m., when as many as 10,000 U.S. radio stations, including an undetermined number from Utah, will go completely silent for 30 seconds to draw attention to radio's role in American life.This "The Day The Radio Stopped" campaign is the first effort of its kind and is being organized jointly by the Radio Advertising Bureau and the National Association of Broadcasters. It will also kick off a new national advertising campaign.

Locally, a spot check of 10 Wasatch Front radio stations reveals that this promotion may actually turn out to be more like "The Day Radio WAS SUPPOSED to Stop."

Only three of the 10 stations contacted (KCPX, KISN and KSL) indicated they will definitely observe the 30 seconds of silence.

Two stations (KEMX and KUER) said they won't be going silent, and the five others weren't sure what they were going to do on May 26.

(KUER is a non-commercial National Public Radio Station and likely would be in a conflict of interest position if it supported an advertising-based promotion. Likewise for KBYU.)

Ken Bell, a spokesman for KCPX radio, said he feels this radio promotion could be very powerful, but only if ALL radio stations observe it. Bell pointed out that most listeners would really only get the message of the campaign if they scanned up and down their radio dials for 30 seconds and truly couldn't find any sound at all.

The actual broadcast to be used on May 26 is professionally done. (It's really difficult to ignore this promotion since so many identical press releases and tapes have been sent out to the media on it.)

A 90-second commercial announcement, featuring actor/-spokesman James Earl Jones, will offer explanation before the radio sound stops. After the silence, a brief musical rendition of the theme will be sung by Richie Havens.

This will be a lot like that "Emergency Broadcast Systems" test that stations air - but without that irritating tone.

Tom Jicha, a radio writer for the Fort Lauderdale News & Sun-Sentinel, has pinpointed a major weakness in this upcoming radio promotion by asking whether or not we can really expect people to turn on their radios just so they can hear the 30 seconds of silence on the morning of May 26. He said a listener will hear the same thing whether he listens or not - nothing.

After all, transmitter failures have occasionally made Salt Lake area radio stations go silent and usually for a lot longer than 30 seconds. Have these made those radio stations more popular? Not likely, and steady listeners of off-the-air stations have probably just gotten mad, turned to another radio station or maybe even gone for the television set.

More interesting than the 30 seconds of silence might be what the non-participating stations will be airing during that appointed time.

-WNN (AM-1510) - This new motivational station, properly titled "The Winner's News Network," went on the air April 20 and has added a new element to Wasatch Front radio.

"This is the first really new format to come into this market in a long, long time," said D.R. Hale, vice president of Salt Lake's Motivation Broadcasting Co.

Hale said the WNN programming is nationally syndicated and arrives via satellite from Florida. It includes such motivational professionals as Earl Nightingale, Zig Zigler, Norman Vincent Peale, Leo Buscaglia and Dennis Waitley - all broadcast in three-minute features.

WNN has more than 15,000 different motivational segments on tape.

"Self-help" has become a $200 million industry, and Hale stressed that all Wasatch Front residents have to do now is tune into AM-1510, for free. The local WNN station hopes to get sponsors and advertisers who want to reach local professional and entrepreneurial men and women.

A typical hour of WNN programming is: news, local weather, sports, an "energizer thought," and a dozen features from developing sales and management skills to being a better parent.

-KRSP (AM-1060) - Saturday is a big day for the station with two events planned, the "Crusin' Weekend" and "Run For the Kids."

The "Crusin' Weekend" takes place from noon until 4 p.m. at Midvale's "Eat-A-Burger." About 150 classic automobiles are expected at the event, and prizes will be given away, as well as a chance to enter KRSP's drawing for a jukebox.

The four-mile "Run for the Kids" begins at 5 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol. Registration for the race begins at 4 p.m. and the cost if $12. T-shirts will be awarded to all entrants and proceeds go to benefit autistic children.

KRSP personalities will also be at the race.

-KSFI (alias "FM-100" at FM-100.3) is starting its "Relaxing Retreats" contest Tuesday as an opportunity for listeners to win one of 30 exciting vacation retreats to destinations like Florida, Hawaii, Mazatlan, New York and Los Angeles.

Participants can pick up "boarding passes" with exclusive "flight numbers" between now and June 16 at Eat-A-Burger, which is co-sponsoring the contest with Murdock Travel. Lucky numbers will be read on the air.

-KBER (FM-106.5) reported having great success with its recent "Bearfest" activity at Lagoon with about 15,000 people in attendance.