Posts in the category "Entertainment":

Chicago airports get their own radio stations

Farmer listening to radio - courtesy U.S. National Archives

Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports now have their own radio stations.

The 24-hour “AIR Chicago” was created for the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) by Clear Chanel Airports, a division of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc., and features smooth jazz music interspersed with airport traffic and weather reports, business news, information about the airports and advertising.

Clear Channel has the indoor advertising contract at the Chicago airports “and this was an opportunity to start a different kind of branding, get more people interested in what we do at the airport, and reach out to a lot more people,” said Karen Pride, CDA spokeswoman.

Pride said the CDA has already recorded “vignettes” about holiday travel that will begin running on AIR Chicago in December and is working on others that might cover everything from sustainability efforts underway at the airports to the art and live music programs offered. There might also be opportunities for airline partners to record messages.

“There are a lot of applications that could be integrated into AIR Chicago,” said Pride. “The possibilities are endless.”

The AIR Chicago programming can be found on and the iHeartRadio app, on the CDA’s website, and on Clear Channel’s local HD2 digital station, WKSC-FM/103.5 KISS FM.

While AIR Chicago is the first 24-hour radio station dedicated to information about the Chicago airports, it is not the first airport radio station. Some airports, such as Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, have low-power AM radio stations broadcasting airport parking and traffic information, with the audio also available online. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport offers a web radio player showcasing northwest music.

Airplane-shaped piano at Pittsburgh Int’l Airport

Chicago’s O’Hare and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International are among the airports with piano bars on-site. But through the first week in January 2014, travelers passing through Pittsburgh International Airport will hear tunes played on this airplane-shaped piano:

PIT Airplane Piano

The airplane piano is 13 feet 6 inches long and is valued at $160,000. It was created by Story & Clark/QRS Music Technologies in Seneca, Pa. and an Italian design firm and is controlled via an iPhone or iPad app and plays from a catalog of more than 6,000 songs.

The piano can also be played the old-fashioned way: by people. And it will used during live performances and during the airport’s holiday choral and concert series featuring local schools.

Look and listen for the piano on the Ticketing Level, Landside Terminal, near the US Airways ticket counter through the first week of January.

In-flight stand-up coming to Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red



Airlines spend millions of dollars trying to outdo each other with in-flight entertainment that includes movies, games, network shows and other canned or streaming options. Yet beyond satellite TV feeds, the only live in-flight entertainment passengers often get might be the antics of a drunk in first class or the sound of a talented flight attendant singing or rapping their way through the safety instructions.

But later this month passengers may be in for a surprise when flying between London and Manchester or Edinburgh on some Virgin Atlantic flights operated by Little Red, the airline’s domestic carrier which launched earlier this year.  The airline has booked live, pop-up performances by comedians also scheduled to appear at the popular Edinburgh Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which runs through August 26th.

And next month the airline plans to offer a series of in-flight acoustic music concerts with artists from Scotland and Manchester.

The program, called Little Red LIVE, hasn’t started yet and will be only be on a handful of flights, said airline spokeswoman Nadia Basil, but when show dates and the entertainers are confirmed the airline promises to share details via Facebook and Twitter.

While somewhat unusual, live in-flight events are not unheard of.

“We’re seeing everything from in-flight concerts to fashion shows,” said Mary Kirby, editor-in-chief of the Airline Passenger Experience magazine. “Wizz Air’s ‘mile high’ fashion show immediately springs to mind.”

Kirby notes that beyond the in-flight entertainment value these events offer to passengers, the performances will have added corporate value because of their ability to generate “talkability” about the airline brand.

The performances will no doubt be captured on mobile devices by tech-savvy passengers and uploaded to YouTube, Vine and other video sharing sites. “With the added benefit of inspiring news stories and conversation about Little Red on social media. I see it as a win/win for both the airline and its passenger,” said Kirby.

Whenever they begin, whichever flights they’re on and however they will be captured, the in-flight comedy and music performances will have to be brief. Little Red flights between London and Edinburgh are 90 minutes and between London and Manchester, just 70 minutes.

(My story about Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red LIVE events first appeared on CNBC’s Road Warrior.)



More holiday events at airports

Orlando International Airport is ready for the holidays, with giant wreaths on the walls, a 40-foot tree and displays celebrating not just Christmas, but Chanukah and Kwanzaa.

From December 10 through December 22, entertainment at Orlando Int’l Airport will include performances by the Orlando Ballet, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Ensembles, The Dickens Carolers and other treats.

Alabama’s Mobile Regional Airport has a holiday tree decorating contest, a full schedule of school choirs lined up to perform and a red and white carved hand-made wooden sleigh on display, which was made by an airport employee.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
offers its holiday music series of jazz, gospel, rock and holiday classics in the Atrium area of the domestic and international terminal buildings, December 10 – 14 and December 17 -21, from 5 to 7 p.m. Carolers will also perform on these same dates on concourses T through D, from 2 to 6 p.m. Here’s the schedule.

At San Jose International Airport, this holiday scene greets arriving travelers on the roadway:

Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) begins a three week schedule of holiday music on December 8th and the Food & Shops at New York’s LaGuardia Airport Terminal B host a coloring station for kids in the the center food court, between Gates B & C and welcome Kuddles the holiday elf, on Fridays (December 7, 14 and 21st), who will be handing out balloons and stickers. If you need to do some shopping, be sure to clip this coupon good for 20% off one item.

And on December 8th and 22nd at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), you can get your picture taken with Santa for free at the Starbucks in Terminal C (between C2 & C3 checkpoints) from 3 to 6 pm. They will also be handing out candy canes and complimentary Starbucks drink samples.

Stay tuned for more holiday events at airports.

Holiday events at airports

Many airports are rolling out their holiday entertainment schedules this week, so beware of elves when you head out for your next trip.

Here’s a sampling of what’s in store.

Music of all sorts – from student choirs to professional carolers and combos will be on duty in airports in Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Austin, Reno, Washington, D.C. and many other airports.

At the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the food class from a local school is once again displaying gingerbread houses in the main lobby and asking passengers to “vote” for their favorite creation by dropping money in the appropriate slot. Funds raised go to a local charity and this year the funds will go to the Nevada Humane Society.

In Oregon, the annual Holidays Take Flight celebration is underway at Portland International Airport, with live entertainment, food and beverage sampling in many shops, and the opportunity to enter a contest to win a $1,000 Alaska Airlines travel certificate for travel from PDX.

From December 15th through the 24th, travelers passing through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) will find carolers, elves, Frosty the Snowman, a comedy stilt walker, jugglers, a one-man band and other musicians roving the terminals and the concourses.

At Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) the fourth-annual Sing Because You Care karaoke event to benefit the local Salvation Army is scheduled for December 19 to the 22nd near the Water Feature in the Center of Concourse A. Passengers can cut their own Motown single (and entertain other passengers) with a $5 donation.

And from Friday December 7 through Monday December 10th, Miami International Airport (MIA) is hosting a wide variety of free holiday activities ranging from pictures with Santa and a chance to mingle with elves, to a craft table for kids, a North Pole mailbox, giveaways and music.

More holiday events at airports tomorrow…



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