How payola works today:
Record Company Representative: Hey, we've got this hot new act called Severe Tire Damage that we know just fits your format. Have a free CD.
Station Manager:Thank you. They're a little grunge for us, but we'll give it a shot.
RCR: Oh, and we also manage Tori Amos. Here are some front-row seat tickets for when she comes to this city next month, just for promotion.
SM:(Somewhat more interested) Yes, I'm sure these will make good contest prizes.
This is how most Radio stations get the cool shit they give away so often. Since the tickets, Aibos, big screen TVs, etc. are all classified as 'promotional' and go to listeners instead of the station employees, it's all perfectly legal, and the payola is realized when the station's reputation is raised to the point where they can charge more for advertising.