3 Steps to Win Free Stuff on Radio Contests and Giveaways

I normally listen to the radio whenever I am in my car. Occasionally I’ll hook up my phone and listen to a podcast (like the Two Guys and Your Money podcast) but I’d say about 90% of the time I’m listening to the radio. On my way to work I listen to a morning show and on the way home there is a similar evening commute show.

Step 1 – Listen During Giveaway Times

If you aren’t listening when the giveaways happen you have a zero shot at winning. Radio stations normally run contests or giveaways during the peak listening hours. Peak listening hours happen to coincide with my commutes. Over the last year I’ve been fortunate enough to win 3 of these giveaways.

I have won 4 movie tickets on an afternoon radio show while I was painting my new townhouse on a day off. Later I won a $25 Bonefish Grill gift card when commuting to the new house which was an hour and a half away at the time. Just last month I won two free rounds of mini golf at the best mini golf location in Panama City Beach, Florida. When did I win this last prize? You guessed it while I was commuting.

One way to get a leg up is to know in advance exactly when the giveaways will be happening. Sometimes you can get some inside information by following the radio station’s or radio show’s Facebook page. They often post in advance a general time to listen to try to win, especially with the bigger contests.

Step 2 – If You Don’t Call You’ll Never Win

Be honest. How many times have you tried to call into a radio station to win a contest? If the answer is zero that is the reason why you haven’t won anything yet. If you never try you can’t ever win! For a long time I would never call in to try to win radio contests and giveaways, after all what is the chance I’ll get through? The bigger the city you live in the harder it will be to get through but if you never call you’ll NEVER get through.

So now that you’ve finally decided to call in to these contests there are a couple ways you can get a leg up. Either have the phone number memorized or have it on speed dial on your phone. When these contests tell you to call in you normally have to call in pretty fast!

Each time I have won I called immediately after they announced the signal to call in and kept dialing until I got through. You’ll often get a busy signal but if the line starts ringing you have a shot to win. Sometimes you’ll be a few callers too early if they want caller #10, and other times the phone will ring forever because they already have selected their winner and you just happened to get stuck on a non winning line. If they answer the phone say anything other than your caller number chances are that you ARE caller #10 so talk like you’re on the radio! Now on to the last step to win.

Step 3 – Know the Contest/Giveaway and Know What You Need to Know to Win

There are some easy contests/giveaways where you have to only be caller #10 to win but there are many more that require you to know some random piece of knowledge to win the prize. You might have to tell the host what the last song they played was either by artist, title of song or both. You might have to finish the lyrics of a song or answer a question about something on that was said on the radio show yesterday.

Know the contest so you can make sure you have the best chance possible to win. If you are in your office write the answer down while you’re calling in so you don’t forget when you are put on the spot. The first two contests I won just required that I be caller #10 but the most recent contest required me to identify the lyrics to a song after they were recited like a poem by the host. It was quite easy because the lyrics weren’t in English and I knew that Gangam Style by PSY has been huge recently. I guessed Gangam Style and won! (Note: A big thanks to Budgets Are Sexy for having a post about the song, otherwise I may not have known the answer!)

Have you ever won anything on a radio contest? If not, have you at least tried to win? Now that you know the secrets, will you be calling in more often? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. I have never won a radio contest, and I can’t remember the last time I even tried. I think blog giveaways are a lot easier to win…tho that might be because I won two in the last month.

  2. I agree with DC, the odds are higher in blog giveaways! I won a radio contest as a kid, but since they changed the number you have to call to a premium number, I don’t even try. I saw retirees who participated in anything they could find, and ended up winning so many things they founded a website where they sold the extra stuff!

  3. I used to win radio contests all the time! I loved entering, but I haven’t done one in forever.

  4. I never tried because I never thought I had a chance. My daughter once won concert tickets.

  5. I’ve won movie tickets in the past. I really don’t listen to the radio that much, maybe a little sports talk, so I really don’t get much of a chance to win giveaways.

  6. Ha – this is pretty great. I don’t know why I don’t call into more radio morning shows to win stuff. I have a pretty long commute, and you usually don’t have to anything special to win.

  7. Fess up, Lance – you’re just a contest junkie! 😉 Haven’t you won like three prizes already at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, too? That’s awesome!

    You forgot step #0 on this post, though: listen to the radio to begin with. I don’t commute any more, so I never listen to the radio. And when I did commute, I rode in the car with my wife, who brooks no competition from a radio! LOL So it’s literally been decades since I last listened to the radio.

    Seriously, though: your fundamental point is true for many things in life: unless you actually take the plunge, the only guarantee is that you’ll get (or win) nothing.

    Great post.

  8. I’ve only won once, and it was a lame stuffed animal or something. My parents did win a trip to Paris for a week to attend a Madonna concert, so that’s pretty huge.

    One thing to remember is you are required to pay taxes on the value of your winnings 🙂

  9. Fun post!

    I never win because I’m not in my car and at home I listen to my Zune pass or podcasts. I SHOULD play the podcast contests I listen to. Like ours, I’m told not that many people play podcast contests, even if they have tons of listeners. Well, for example, look at our current contest: we’ve had tons of listens to the show and only two people have signed up to win.

    BTW, thanks for mentioning our little show!

  10. I used to try in high school, but don’t really listen to the radio anymore thanks to Spotify.

  11. I never paid any attention to the opportunity before, but we have some friends that swear by it and joke that the stations have so few listeners that they win stuff a few times a year! It’s crazy, but with radio dying, I guess if you have a few phone lines at your disposal and some time, you can win all sorts of freebies!

  12. I used to call in all the time when I was younger but I never won anything. But now whenever I see a contest, I always drop my business card or I’ll sign up. I won a couple items that way.

  13. I tried to stop winning radio giveaway years ago…because I NEVER won them. Plus, it’s kind of a hassle to jump at your phone (while you’re driving typically) and dial the number as quickly as possible. I’d rather be a safe and responsible driver for those people that are counting on me next to them. 🙂

    Eh…who am I kidding…I’m just too lazy to pick up the phone and try.

  14. I won tickets to a Pink Floyd LASER light show once years ago. I did not attend. Not even sure why I called in.

  15. I have tried numerous times in the past to call in and I never get through. The line is always busy. Plus with the new talking while driving laws I can’t even call on my morning commute.

  16. Congrats on your winS! I quite frequently try but have not had any luck to date 🙁

  17. Scott Paul says:

    My wife has consistently won contests for over 10 years now, it’s a hobby of hers. She keeps track of what’s coming up, making sure that she only competes for things worth winning (and adhering to the contest rules about winning more than every 30 or 60 days). Some contests require figuring out a mash-up of songs (and our knowledge of classic rock and music helps us there), others have a quote or sound clip that you have to identify. On these, you just have to be up with Google, and let other people make guesses before you, to narrow things down. It’s amazing how close people will get and then blow the 3rd song, or whatever, and then you get in after they’re hung up on, and you now know the complete answer. And of course, there are the 9th caller, 100th caller, etc. That’s just pure luck and perseverance. My wife was the 64th caller for front row McCartney tickets. At this point, we generally don’t try for tickets unless they’re in the first 5 rows (yes, we’re spoiled, have seen most everybody). She’s won a cruise, vacations, cash, dozens and dozens of concert tickets, etc. We use 3 phone lines, 2 cell, 1 landline. In addition to what she’s won for us, she often wins tickets for her friends as well. It can be done! But you have to be serious about it.

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