Contact Us

Garth-a-Thon Yielded Incredible Returns 20 Years Ago This Week

WBKR Archives

Back in 1992, WBKR’s promotions director, Toni Mason Riales, saw an article in the Evansville newspaper about a group of University of Evansville students, God bless ‘em, who were going to start a petition to get Bruce Springsteen to come to Evansville. That was how it all began.

That thought seed translated into the idea that maybe WBKR could do the same thing in an attempt to get Garth Brooks to perform at Roberts.

And, to be honest, as Toni recently told me, we didn’t really think we would be successful. And, she’s right. We didn’t.

But after promoting it on the air, more or less as a lark, the signed petitions started flooding our fax machine. I mean they just kept coming. So, we thought, you know, this can actually be a “thing.”

And what a thing it was.

Our airstaff–Zack and Nick in the Morning, Karen Willoughby, Chuck Urban, myself, Mike Stone–we all did road shows from outside Roberts Stadium in a really nice RV that a dealer client had let us use in a trade agreement.

Zack and Nick were there all week. The rest of us would come and go.

The WBKR staff–all of us, not just on-air talent–washed cars in the stadium parking lot one Saturday. There was the enormous “Garth, Please!” banner that, from the photo, must have stretched out over the length of two semis.

Toni’s husband, Bill Riales, a WEHT anchor at the time, flew in a helicopter over what became known as the Garth-a-Thon and covered it for local television. The story was even featured on the national television news magazine A Current Affair.

As kind of a wacky (but no less effective) part of the promotion, Zack and Nick smashed up guitars, the pieces of which became part of a framed shadowbox.

So, here we had all these petitions, this inspired shadowbox, audio and video from various stages of the promotion.

What to do, what to do. Well, I’ll tell ya.

Toni and Zack took all that stuff to Nashville and paid a visit to Garth’s booking agent, a very amicable and hospitable guy, as it turned out.

Six months later, it was announced that Garth Brooks would perform a three-concert series February 3rd through the 5th, 1994 at Roberts Stadium.

Mission accomplished!

Monday is the 20th anniversary of that first concert. As I spoke to Toni about this anniversary, we both marveled at how long it’s actually been since that incredible promotion evolved into something none of us, at first, thought possible.

How it evolved into what many people have told me is the greatest concert experience of their lives. I count myself among them. I saw Garth on that first night. I’ll never forget it.

And I’ll never forget how much fun we had trying to get him here, thinking that it probably wasn’t going to happen.

And yet it did.

Icing!

 

 

 

 

More from WBKR

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://wbkr.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on WBKR quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Register on WBKR quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!