It was just supposed to be like any other format change stunt that takes place dozens of times each year across the country. Univision’s “Latino Mix” 105.7 KVVF Santa Clara/100.7 KVVZ San Rafael, CA began looping Nelly’s “Hot In Herre” at 3pm on Friday in preparation of a flip.
There was nothing truly unique to the stunt. Just two weeks ago, Univision made a similar flip in Albuquerque as KKRG looped Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” for over four straight days before relaunching as Classic Hip-Hop “Yo 101.3“. WRWN Savannah, GA is currently stunting with Irish music for St. Patrick’s Day with nary a mention online. Even the use of “Hot In Herre” has been done before. 93.3 KXMG Austin (now KGSR) did the exact same loop of the song leading into its flip to Urban “Hot 93.3″ in 2003!
By Saturday morning #Nelly1057 had become one of the top social media trends in the country before hitting the mainstream media. The path this stunt took to become the biggest radio story of the year is not something that will be easily replicated. So how exactly did it happen?
Although the stunting began at 3pm, the first Twitter mention of it was by Bennett Williamson at 9:43pm on Friday night. At 11:09pm, Bennett would be the first to affix the #Nelly1057 hashtag.
We can confirm Nelly has been playing since 6:40, others reporting 3pm. Perhaps station got bought out? #Nelly1057
— Bennett Williamson (@bennett4senate) March 15, 2014
It began to pick up steam when Grantland.com writer Netw3rk picked up on the story and posted a screenshot of associated tweets to his nearly 33,000 followers. From there it was picked up by three prolific Twitter personalities just before midnight, sportswriters Lana Berry (@Lana), Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri), writer/comedian Jon Hendren (@fart) promoted the stunt to their tens of thousands of followers, while Berry began live-tweeting her listening to the stunt for hours on end. Actress Sasha Grey went the extra step of pointing Nelly1057.com to her Twitter account. The viral boost coincided with the press conference regarding the status of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane, bringing additional eyes to Twitter.
bay area ppl should tune their radios to fm 105.7 it’s been playing Nelly for 6 hours apparently lmao
— jon hendren (@fart) March 15, 2014
— Lana Berry (@Lana) March 15, 2014
— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) March 15, 2014
— Sasha Grey (@SashaGrey) March 15, 2014
The corporate tweets began from there as Netw3rk and Lana’s mentions brought sports media related tweets from Stubhub, Fox Sports, and even the Los Angeles Dodgers. The next phase of the stunt becoming a viral phenomenon would take place on Saturday morning as Reddit, Gawker, Slate, Rolling Stone, Time, San Francisco Chronicle, and dozens of other news outlets picked up on the story. By this point the story had become the top trending story on Facebook, where it would remain for the bulk of the weekend.
All good things must come to an end, and the loop of Hot in Herre will cease at 5pm on Monday. Nelly himself made the announcement this morning, the first time he commented on the buzz circling around the loop of his song.
Listen Monday at 5p to Uforia's #nelly1057 it's gonna get Hot in The Bay area!! RT RT!!
— Nelly_Mo (@Nelly_Mo) March 16, 2014
What lessons can be taken from this weekend’s event? This is not something that can easily be replicated. KVVF/KVVZ got lucky with a few prominent social media personalities catching on to the stunt. That combined with a beloved song and a market that has not seen much in the way of format change stunting (The last major stunt was when 107.7 KSOL looped Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” in 1992) led to this thing blowing up well beyond anybody’s expectations.
If there is a positive takeaway from this, people all across the country came together to listen and talk about something being broadcast on radio; something that hasn’t happened with much consistency in America over the past few decades. No matter if many of the listeners were outside of the San Francisco Bay Area and won’t be listeners of the new format, the stunt has proven that live radio can still be a viral medium. Every broadcaster now has an achievable goal to get their programming to be talked about in some form on a local, national, or global level.