Reigniting my love affair with creating radio commercials

I have the privilege of being a guest speaker at Walt Jaschek‘s radio ad production course that he teaches through the Webster University School of Communications.

During my one-hour presentation, I’ll be sharing some of my all-time favorite radio commercials that I have produced through the years. Sad to say, there are no recent spots that I’ll be sharing. It’s not that I’ve lost my skill-set for creating radio commercials that stand out, get noticed and acted upon. I simply don’t have the client list that does broadcast advertising anymore.

And that’s a shame. Radio has always been one of my favorite modes of advertising. I’ve probably written and produced more than 200 radio commercials throughout my career. I’ve had the opportunity to create memorable spots for a wide variety of clients – here’s a short list …

The Missouri Division of Tourism; St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Baseball Cardinals, Six Flags, AAA Insurance, Charter Communications, The Pasta House Company, Missouri Division of Highways Safety – I could go on and on but I won’t.

No matter what the client, service or product, I always sought to deliver their key message in some attention-getting, memorable way.

I’ve done a jingle or two. I’ve done humor. I’ve done drama. I’ve been hollered at by Peter Graves and Jack Buck – all in the pursuit of creating radio commercials that cut through, are memorable and that get the cash register or the phone to ring.

Creating great radio commercials involves the ultimate theater of the mind. Through words, sound effects, music and the talent you choose you can paint a picture in someone’s head and if you do it right, plant a seed as well that gets that person to act.

Going through the radio reel that exists on my website as well as raiding my archives made me realize just how much I miss both writing and producing radio spots. It’s a talent I have that has gone untapped for too long.

I wish there were some car dealer out there or local retailer who wants to reach a very targeted audience and knows they could be doing better with their radio efforts. Maybe there’s a new product or service that needs launching. Maybe a local golf course is tired of seeing their number of players continue to go down. Whoever, whatever, I could virtually guarantee that I could do a better job than anything they’ve ever done before.

I just need someone to pick up the phone and call me.

This operator is standing by.

Baseball on the brain

Here we are, moving in to the last day of February and I can’t wait for spring to arrive.

My son, Michael is currently going through tryouts for his high school baseball team. He’s in day two, three more days before the first cut. For the past three months, he’s had pitching lessons, getting him ready for his tryouts as well as four weeks of hitting lessons. All those lessons aren’t exactly cheap but his love for baseball is great and they really do help him. Though Michael isn’t exactly a fireballer, his instructor, Matt Whitesides, who’s taught him over the past seven years, has helped him develop great form and last year, worked with him to develop a pretty wicked curve ball that made a number of hitters look downright foolish. It was fun to see.

So while those tryouts are on-going, my coaching career will soon come to an end. For nine years (starting in kindergarten), I coached Michael’s grade school team. Last year, when he went on to play high school ball, I got the opportunity to coach my daughter, Catherine’s team. I had no idea what to expect – but quickly discovered it was every bit as fun coaching her team as it was coaching Michael’s. This year, Catherine’s team is merging with another and I’m just going to be an assistant coach which is perfectly fine by me.

Then there’s the Cardinals. With Albert and Tony gone, there’s a different feel already to spring training. I haven’t been all that enthused to hear Yadi griping and moaning but hopefully, he’ll get his millions and will maybe run out all of his ground ball outs. (Well, one can dream, right?) My expectations for this year’s Cardinals team aren’t very high. It’s just too difficult to repeat. But for now, the talk is about 12 in ’12. I doubt it, but it sounds good and is an interesting spin to have – at least until after the All Star break.

I’m also extremely interested to see the new ad campaign that’s going to come out of Hughes – or rather, HLK, my former agency. I must admit, I’m jealous. I will always remember working on the Cardinals account back when I was at Kenrick Advertising. ┬áIn 1982, we created the campaign, “You and the Cardinals. That’s a winner!” Obviously, we borrowed directly from Jack Buck but it all made sense. I can still remember directing Jack as we recorded some radio commercials. “Uh, Mr. Buck, could you maybe slow it down just a bit?”

“Listen kid, I say it the way I read it and if you don’t like it, you can get somebody else.”

“Actually, that sounded great. I think we’re good.”

And we were good. Two of the radio spots I created that year were Flair winners (the equivalent of today’s ADDY award). I got to meet Willie McGee, create some commercials with Ozzie Smith and sit in the dugout for a game which was like a dream come true for me. When the Cardinals went on to win the World Series, it was an instant classic – the year I got to work on the Cardinals account that they won it all.

So as we head in to this leap year day when the weather’s warm enough to throw the ball around it’s no wonder I’ve got baseball on the brain.

Bring on March with all its basketball madness, knowing that the first pitch of the season will be here before we know it.