Student turns professional contest winner

After sitting in her car for more than nine hours, Jessica Pitcaithly waited not so patiently for “You and Tequila” by Kenny Chesney to play over the airwaves, cueing the beginning of a radio competition.

Her call into the station that day began a winning streak that sparked a contest addiction.

The freshman marketing major has entered hundreds of radio contests since she began in May 2012. In only 10 months, she has won eight major contests to a variety of well-known country concerts.

Pitcaithly has seen Rascal Flatts, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith and more than 10 other musicians, all completely free. “We listened to the radio a lot. After many times of trying, my sister and I were calling in… and the prize was ZiegenBock music festival. I got through, and we won…. When we heard our voices on air, we wanted to keep doing it,” Jessica said.

The competitive spirit runs in the family. Jessica’s mom, Jennifer Pitcaithly, also entered similar contests when she was 16, though she never won. Now, it’s something the family discusses frequently. Jessica said, “My mom is supportive of it. She doesn’t have to buy me tickets anymore.

Phone in hand, freshman marketing major Jessica Pitcaithly tunes the radio to see what contests may present opportunities for giveaways. She has entered hundreds, winning tickets to see numerous well-known country artists. Photo by Katelyn Holm/The Bells.

One time, I got my whole family to play…. I’ve basically won every contest I wanted by doing the same things.” This success comes with a strategy. Jessica has developed a method for each challenge, depending on whether callers or texters receive the prize.

First, she recommends doing research on the radio station before attempting to enter any sweepstakes. “By knowing what times to play, what song is the cue, what word you need to text or how often you can enter, you can be prepared and have the best chances,” she said.

Secondly, she recommends using different phones, depending on the radio’s guidelines.
“iPhones and smartphones are best for texting. You can copy and paste the winning word more quickly for a greater probability of winning… but don’t use more than one device. When you do that, you
are basically playing against yourself.”

When the lines are busy, Jessica encourages people to keep trying.

“The more simple your phone is for calling, the better chances you have. You can just call and redial multiple times. If you don’t get through the first time, it doesn’t mean they have chosen someone already. For the most part, there are just a lot of callers, and no one has gotten through yet,” she said.

On one occasion, she received a special surprise.

“On Waco100, they were doing a $50,000 giveaway with a Ford F-150 truck…. It was sort of like a raffle. You could only enter once in this one, so I decided to try,”

Things seemed normal enough, though she didn’t think she had a good chance of winning.

Jessica Pitcaithy snags a picture of Tim McGraw at one of the many concerts she has attended for free. Courtesy photo.

“We were sitting in the car, and I got this phone call. The man said that I won the cash prize and asked me how I felt. I just sat there in shock until I realized that I recognized the voice. It was sabotage,” she said.

Freshman Savannah Davis and two other people decided to play a prank on their unsuspecting friend.

“Well, we wanted to see her reaction if she won. I knew about all of the things she has won before, so we thought it would be funny. Then she freaked out, and we definitely felt bad afterwards. I’m pretty sure she stopped breathing for a second,” Davis said.

Jennifer Pitcaithly supports her daughter’s hobby, though she worries that she may spend too much time pursuing it.

“I was proud of her when she won her first contest. I know she will continue to do so, and I back her up. I hope she focuses on school now, though,” she said.

As Jessica explores career paths, she believes her past time has grown into a valuable learning experience.

“Since I sit and listen to music a lot, I obviously enjoy the whole industry, country music in particular…. One day, I want to produce and write songs,” she said.

The radio station 93Q gave away tickets for a meet-and- greet with Toby Keith, which Pitcaithly spent an entire day playing for. She was rewarded, and considers this victory her biggest accomplishment.

She said,“When I met Toby, I was pretty scared. But he was so sweet. He told us to squeeze on in for the picture. It was such an amazing moment.”

With her mom’s support, Pitcaithly hopes to continue her winning streak.

Davis said, “I’ve never known anyone who has won things on the radio. I thought it was impossible. But I really believe in it now.”

Author: Katelyn Holm

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