THE EARLY WCBS-FM NEARLY LAID AN EGG -- AND THAT'S NO YOKE
The Solid Gold Egg Imbroglio
by John Landers
In the Summer of 1975, when McDonald's first began serving breakfast (yes it's hard to imagine but at one time McDonald's did not open their doors until 10 AM each day) they teamed up with WCBS-FM in the tri-state area and launched the WCBS-FM Eggstravaganza Bumper Sticker Contest.
Part 1 of the promotion instructed listeners to pick up an official WCBS-FM Eggstravaganza Bumper Sticker at participating McDonald's restaurants. One might easily assume this was an attempt by WCBS-FM to capitalize on the wildly successful WABC $25,000 button promotion, which had been offered by local area McDonald's restaurants during the summer of 1974. Unfortunately, the CBS-FM Eggstravaganza contest never came close in popularity to the WABC $25,000 Button contest mainly because AM radio stations still ruled the broadcast spectrum in 1975 and FM stations had not yet put a strangle-hold on the loyal AM audience. The prerecorded on-air contest promos would tout that on the back of the bumper sticker you will find "valuable coupons" that you could use the next time you went to McDonald's for breakfast. In reality each coupon simply gave you a free cup of coffee with the purchase of some type of McDonald's breakfast... so much for being a "valuable coupon."
Part 2a of the promotion ran simultaneously with part 1. In this phase, WCBS-FM instructed its listeners to affix the Eggstravaganza Bumper Sticker to their car bumper in hopes of being spotted by CBS-FM employees sent out to various locations to try and spot cars with the bumper sticker attached. If said CBS-FM employee spotted your car with the Eggstravaganza Bumper Sticker they took down your license plate number and conveyed such back to the on-air staff, who would then announce the plate's state and number on the air and give the owner of that vehicle 101 minutes to call in and claim a specific prize such as concert tickets, dinner for two, record albums or 101 dollars which was a very nice prize in 1975.
Part 2b of the contest advised holders of the Eggstravaganza Bumper Sticker to peel off and fill out the bottom of the back of the sticker and mail same to CBS-FM at 51 W 52nd St in order to become eligible to win the contest's final drawing in which twelve one ounce solid gold eggs would be awarded to twelve very lucky contest winners. The twelve winners would be selected by drawing their bumper sticker entry form from all the entry forms received by the contest deadline.
Here is a funny sidebar to the twelve solid gold egg giveaway that could have fried CBS-FM good. The contract between CBS-FM and the company that minted the eggs called for only twelve solid gold eggs to be created and then to have the mold subsequently destroyed thereby making these eggs a one-of-a-kind gift for only twelve contest winners. Somehow thirteen golden egg winners were announced and CBS-FM was in a world of trouble because with the mold now destroyed making a thirteenth egg was impossible. It could have been a major problem and possibly a lawsuit as well as an FCC investigation had CBS-FM management not scrambled and worked out a behind the scenes deal with the thirteenth egg winner. Had this person not accepted the station's offer of $2,000 cash instead of a non-existent thirteenth golden egg things could have gotten ugly. Fortunately, the winner of the thirteenth golden egg happily accepted the $2,000 cash and CBS dodged a potentially nasty bullet and no one was the wiser. In fact this faux-pas was kept so tightly under wraps that I did not hear about it until many years later and it was quite a few years after that before I was able to get a second source to confirm the blunder had ever occurred.
John Landers is among the nation's major radio history buffs, a Brooklynite who slaves for the New York Transit Authority. He's a regular contributor to the WCBS Appreciation Site.