On Wednesday, Star 104 here in Erie concluded its Cash, Cars and Stars contest by giving away a 2014 Honda Civic and $500 cash. The contest has been run by Star 104 in the past, and is an extremely popular event in local radio. That said, there was a glaring error in the contest this year. Worse, as of yet, the station has refused to acknowledge the mistake.
For those who are unfamiliar, Cash, Cars and Stars requires listeners to identify the 5 celebrities who are “seated in Star 104’s Virtual Car.” Several times each weekday, the station prompts listeners to call and caller 14 is given a clue regarding the identity of the current star. Callers who correctly name the star win a smaller prize, and the caller who identifies the final star is awarded the grand prize.
As a contest that spans several weeks, participants who listen regularly have the advantage of hearing more clues. More clues result in more specific research, and obviously, better guesses. You probably realize this can only be helpful if all the clues are accurate.
On Friday, April 18, the event had reached the 5th and final star. The first clue given that morning (#20 of the eventual 38 clues) was “This Star does not have a sister.” Caller 14 was unable to correctly guess the star and the contest continued. Several days later, based on other clues, the star was identified as Zach Galifianakis, and the car was awarded.
It turns out that I was caller 14 on clue #21 (the very next clue!). By then, I had already started ruling out any star with, well, a sister. Why in the world would I guess Zach Galifianakis? The whole point of the game is relying on the accuracy of the clues.
So imagine my surprise when the final star turned out to be someone who has a sister!!! Along with a few other listeners who caught it, I posted on the Star 104 Facebook page regarding the mistake. Within several hours, all of the posts about the error had been deleted. A few other listeners posted, and again, their comments got deleted.
According to the rules of the contest: “To the extent permitted by law, all entrants release from, and indemnify WRTS, Connoisseur Media LLC., Bianchi Honda and any other Porreco Auto Group against all liability, cost, loss or expense arising out of acceptance of any prize(s) or participation in the Promotion including (but not limited to) loss of income, loss of opportunity, personal injury and damage to property, whether direct or consequential, foreseeable, due to some negligent act or omission or otherwise.”
I realize this roughly translates to “Even if we screw up, it’s not our problem. There’s nothing you can do.” And I know the contest won’t be restarted or anything. The problem is that the station refuses to acknowledge there was even a mistake. I should clarify: The station is refusing to acknowledge it on social media. I don’t have any idea if it’s been mentioned on the air because I won’t listen to Star 104 anymore.
During the most valuable part of the contest, a factually inaccurate clue was given which steered regular listeners AWAY from the correct answer. Loyal listening became a disadvantage. And the contest organizers would rather ignore it until everyone forgets. I will not pretend it didn’t happen. Unless something changes, I will no longer listen to Star 104 or participate in any of their unreliable contests.