By BOBBY WARREN
WOOSTER — Christmas lights for a live TV remote: $14.87. A 30-second ad on Fox TV’s “The X Factor:” $280,000-$400,000. The national exposure Wooster and Wayne County received because of a burly-looking burrito slinger from Wooster’s ability to sing: Priceless.
Most of the 26 episodes of “The X Factor” mentioned Josh Krajcik as being from Wooster, though he was living in Columbus at the time he auditioned in Chicago to be one of the contestants.
Krajcik captured the judges’ attention with his soulful performance of Etta James’ “At Last,” and his voice continued to garner the praises of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger and L.A. Reid. As the 30-year-old singer continued to advance in the singing competition, so, too, did the exposure of Wooster and Wayne County.
Wooster, Triway High School and Wayne County received even more national exposure in the reality series’ two-part season finale in which there were numerous live shots from the school during the Dec. 21 show and a recorded video segment from around Wooster, Wayne County and Columbus on the Dec. 22 finale.
The first part of the finale had a 3.3 rating among 18-49-year-olds for a 10 percent share, about 11.1 million viewers, according to Zap2it.com. The second part of the season finale averaged a 3.8 share, or about 11 percent with an average of 12.4 million viewers at any one time over the two hours.
However, viewership increased throughout the show, starting at a 3.3 share and ending with a 4.2 share for the final half hour, or 13.8 million viewers. It won both nights.
There is no way Wooster could have purchased that kind of exposure, Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Griffin said. “What does a 30-second commercial on that show cost?”
According to “The Hollywood Reporter,” a 30-second spot might have cost anywhere from $280,000-$400,000.
Additionally, there were live feeds and video segments on local television channels in the Cleveland and Columbus markets.
Rick Batyko, who is with the Cleveland Plus Marketing Alliance, said there is no economic measurement that can be assigned to the exposure of the area, “but it obviously creates a very positive environment.”
Executive Director Marty Starkey and marketing specialist Jacki Chamberlain of the Wayne County Convention and Visitors Bureau jumped on the bandwagon early, wanting to ensure this area was seen in a positive light. They worked with “The X Factor” producers who visited the area to find potential places for the live television feed.
Starkey and company at the Convention and Visitors Bureau are receiving emails requesting signs be erected stating the area is the home to Krajcik.
Griffin and the Chamber’s staff also worked with “The X Factor” producers to find locations, which ended up being Triway High School. It turned out to be the best choice because the rainy weather was not conducive for an outdoor shot.
There were several cutaways from the Los Angeles studios to The Pit at Triway during the Dec. 21 show, and Wooster Mayor Bob Breneman had the opportunity to surprise Krajcik with the news the day had been proclaimed Josh Krajcik Day. (The Wayne County commissioners and Chamberlain, the outgoing mayor of Shreve, also made proclamations.)
“With the mayor on national television, it can do nothing but enhance your image,” Griffin said.
Griffin is on an email list with about 60 other chamber of commerce presidents, and many have sent him messages saying how fortunate Krajcik’s rise on the show, he was the runner-up, was for the city.
“Whenever you can get that kind of publicity, it’s a win-win,” Chamberlain said. “The way it brought the community together was priceless.”
Helping to provide the glue in keeping the community together was local businessman Jerry Baker. He was out front in promoting Krajcik’s journey on “The X Factor.”
At first, watch parties were held at the Olde Jaol Tavern where fans got to see Josh on a 20-foot screen.
Baker later moved the parties to a warehouse he owns along Akron Road to accommodate larger crowds and give more people the opportunity to see Krajcik and cheer him on to winning the competition.
“Jerry led the charge with the watch parties, and he laid out (money) for the screen, the satellite so people could watch ‘The X Factor’ live (when a Browns game pre-empted an episode) and when he moved the watch parties out to the warehouse, he invested even more money,” Griffin said.
When Baker moved the weekly gathering to the Stonecraft warehouse, he told people to take their own food, beverages and chairs. While the move cost him some sales at the Olde Jaol Tavern, the change in venue was not a business decision.
“This is a community thing,” Baker said. “How many times do we have something that is nationally or internationally driven that comes back to Wooster? The industries used to do it. This is exciting.”
Baker also has a long track record with Krajcik’s family. Baker knew the singer’s grandmother, Judy Oliver-Delaney, from his days as a real estate developer. In the past, Baker hired Krajcik to perform at the Olde Jaol.
During the final watch party at the warehouse, several people, including Cindy Zimmerly, approached Baker and thanked him for playing host each week.
“It’s fantastic,” Zimmerly said. “It shows Wooster is supportive and helps bring families together.”
Baker also received recognition from Krajcik’s mentor on the show, Scherzinger. In a video message she thanked Wooster residents for all they did to support Krajcik and blew Baker a kiss, saying, “Thank you, Jerry, for all you do.”
Reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at 330-287-1639 or email@example.com. He’s @BobbyWarrenTDR on Twitter.