Many years ago the book club I was in read a book called "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" by Terry Ryan. It's a memoir written about Terry's childhood, with the focus being on her mother. A stay-at-home mother to 10 kids and wife to an abusive drunk, Terry's mother had a knack for entering and winning contests, especially the very popular jingle contests of the time. I won't tell you the whole story (though I highly recommend the book, and the movie they made of it wasn't bad either), but I just remember thinking how much I wished I could enter all those contests.
Because I just LOVE a good contest.
OK, I even love bad contests. I love any and all contests. I am, I admit, a very competitive person.
I have basically made a hobby of the contests on the local radio station I listen to (KRTY- yes, I listen to country!). I know the song that they play if they're about to do a call in contest and I can dial fast. I can't win the ones where you have to be caller 12, but I can almost always make it in as caller 1 or 2 if they're looking for multiple callers. I have played just about every game they have and I have been lucky enough to win quite a bit over the last 12 years. ...event tickets (concerts, Harlem Globetrotters, demolition derby...D & B loved that one!), gift cards, amusement park tickets, etc, etc. My favorites, by far are the prizes where I get to do something I wouldn't have done otherwise (because, let's face it, I'm a penny pinche or things that are hard to get into...did you know I have a picture of me & B with Leanne Rimes?))- I think new experiences are more valuable than just about anything else.
People have asked me how I win so much and I think it's just because I am terribly stubborn and a creature of habit. The habit helps, because I have been listening to the same station for a dozen years and I know the times of the morning they usually hold contests, so I know when to listen. The stubborn helps, because if they're giving out a certain prize I want to win (and they usually give out the same thing for several days), I will dog that radio and phone until I make it through. Still doesn't mean I'll always win (some of the games they play are hit or miss on whether I'll get it), but the odds are way higher than if I just gave up, or didn't try at all!
All this persistence (and all the years of attending radio shows/events) has also led to the morning DJs knowing my name...in some ways, slightly embarrassing (they must think I have no life at all), but that pays off too. There have been at least 3 different instances where I wasn't able to win what I had hoped for and they just gave me the tickets anyway (lunch/concert w/Terry Clark, Harlem Globetrotters and a show at the SJ improv). Yes, I am spoiled.
There was one elusive prey, though...the big one, the one that got away (or, in my case, the one I never even got close to)...the grand prize trips. What would it take to win the granddaddy of the radio prizes?
As this post is already waaay longer than I intended, to find out the answer, you'll have to stay tuned for the next exciting (?) chapter in "The Prize Winner Wannabe."