Having a radio show used to mean drinking a lot of old, stale coffee, coddling drunk callers on the overnight shift, and eating things left over from remote broadcasts that no one really knew whether or not would kill you. Having not been behind a live radio board for years, I can only assume some of that still happens, but there are some things that never change.
This episode isn’t about radio stories. I’ll save those for my interview with my dear friend, Joe, when he comes in studio to remember back to the radio days of good ol’. No, this is about the things that keep your local station on the air, and what about them that drives me insane enough to scream like a B-movie horror woman, and turn down the volume to keep my ears from bleeding.
I’m talking about radio commercials … the bad ones.
From Atomic Red Studios, I’m Michael Blackston, and this is not a test. It’s a deep dive into the snobby side of my Funny Messy Life.
Let’s get one thing straight, right off the bat. Everything is not right for everybody. You might want to be a surgeon, but if you were born without sight, that’s not going to be a favorable career for you. I don’t want you handling a scalpel in or around my very delicate person. If you don’t have a love for animals, I’d advise you not to be a veterinarian.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Wernkle, but Fifi passed away during the procedure.”
“You were just clipping her claws!”
“Eh. Stuff happens, know what I mean? Next victim!”
The same is true for radio. It’s not that I think you ought to have to pay your dues before your voice is heard all over the place. Lord knows, that would be a losing battle anyway. Have you heard some of the podcasts out there? Quiet, haters!
It’s just that some people need experience before voicing a commercial, because most of us weren’t automatically born with the “it” factor necessary to come across in a way that’s pleasing enough to sell something. This seems to be rampant in the car dealership world. Is it really effective for the announcer to scream at me?
*“COME ON OUT TO BLACKSTON AUTOMOTIVE THIS FRIDAY FOR THE DEALS YOU JUST WON’T GET ANYWHERE ELSE! WE’VE GOT AWESOME DEALS ON USED CARS OUT THE REAR END! SPEAKING OF REAR ENDS, HAVE YOU BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT LATELY? SOMEBODY TEXTING ONE OF THOSE OTHER DEALERS, TRYING TO FIND BETTER PRICES THAN YOU CAN GET AT BLACKSTON AUTOMOTIVE, AND THEY DIDN’T SEE YOU COME TO A STOP?! BRING IT IN TO US AND WE’LL FIX THAT CABOOSE BETTER THAN IT WAS THE DAY BEFORE YOU BOUGHT IT - AND WE’LL SEND THE BILL RIGHT UP THEIR INSURANCE COMPANY’S TAILPIPE! BLACKSTON AUTOMOTIVE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU BECAUSE AT BLACKSTON AUTOMOTIVE, WE TREAT YOU LIKE FAM’BLY! THAT’S NORTHEAST GEORGIA’S NUMBER ONE AUTO DEALER, BLACKSTON AUTOMOTIVE. BLACKSTON AUTOMOTIVE!”
That doesn’t get annoying, does it? Yet, you hear it every day. If you’re going to feed me slop, at least put it on a fancy plate. What if that same commercial were presented a different way? What if a smoothe talking bassy voice sold it to you under a bed of sultry jazz? Still not great, but at least you got to hear some jazz.
But they don’t think that way. They think the owner of the company, who may be a fantastic car salesman, should do the spot. He usually has no clue how bad he sounds, and to make matters worse, they’ll often add one of the guy’s kids to sweeten the sell. That’s usually not a good idea. It’s like a carcass in the middle of the road that’s been there for three days in August. In the south. You think we won’t notice the stench if you put a cute hat on it?
*“AT BLACKSTON AUTOS, WE’VE GOT THE BEST USED CARS AT THE BEST PRICES AROUND. EACH VEE-HICKLE GOES THROUGH A 1.25 POINT INSPECTION, SO YOU KNOW YOU’RE GETTING A QUALITY AUTOMOBILE. BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. HERE’S MY SON, PEA-POT TO BACK ME UP. TELL, ‘EM, PEA-POT.”
PEA-POT: “THAT’S RIGHT, DEDDIE. HERE AT BLACKSTON AUTO, WE ‘SPECT ‘EM REAL GOOD. IF’N WE FIND A VARMINT IN ONE’NIM VEE-HICKLES, WE TELL IT TA GIT! GO ON, GIT!”
WE DON’T PLAY GAMES AT BLACKSTON AUTO. YOU GIT A GOOD’N WHEN YA COME OUT HERE.
COME OUT TO BLACKSTON AUTO, WHERE WE TELL VARMINTS TA GIT!
THAT’S BLACKSTON AUTO!
There’s a commercial that plays on one of the large market stations out of Atlanta and it gets under my skin so badly that I have almost sent a nasty letter. It sounds like the owner of the place, not a car lot, but a retail establishment, and no one told the guy to take the historically large chaw of tobacco out of his mouth before stepping up to the microphone. To make matters worse, his dialect is nearly as redneckish as the character I just did in the last fake commercial. Allow me to take a jab at an impersonation, but first, I’ll cram an enormous wad of paper into my mouth to complete the effect.
*“BLACKSTON ART SUPPLY IS OPEN NOW TO OFFER ALL TYPES OF ART SUPPLIES TO ALL TYPES OF ARTISTS. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU’RE A AMA-TOOR, OR A ‘SPYURENSED ARTEEST, WE’VE GOT WHATEVER YOU NEED TO TAKE YORE LATEST DOODLE, AND TURN INTO YORE LATEST MYSTERPIECE. YOU WANT PENCILS, WE GOT ‘EM AT BLACKSTON ART SUPPLY! YOU WANT BRUSHES? WE GOT ‘EM AT BLACKSTON ART SUPPLY! YOU WANT SENSATIONAL SWATCHES TO SATISFY ALL YOR QUILTIN’ NEEDS, WE GOT ‘EM AT BLACKSTON ART SUPPLY! COME ON OUT TO BLACKSTON ART SUPPLY, AND WE’LL MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE VINCENT VAN GOFF.
BLACKSTON ART SUPPLY.
BLACKSTON ART SUPPLY.
BLACKSTON ART SUPPLY!”
I have misophonia, which means that this stuff triggers the Mr. Hyde in me. I can’t help it. And now there’s another trend. It’s the good ol’ boy commercial where one of them is the straight guy, and the other one is the goofy dude you just can’t do anything with, hyuck hyuck! The goofy guy always ends the ad by singing a country song as badly as he possibly can and they all have a good laugh, as if they didn’t just cause an entire listening area to throw up their last meal. I shall demonstrate.
“CLEVIS: HEY EARL, I GOT AN IDEA FOR A NEW INDEPENDENCE DAY SPECIAL HERE AT BLACKSTON TIRES AND VASECTOMIES.
EARL: OH NO, CLEVIS, YOUR IDEAS ALWAYS INVOLVE ME SPENDING MORE MONEY? WHATCHA GOT UP YOUR SLEEVE NOW?
CLEVIS: NAW, EARL, THISUN’S GOOD. LOOK HERE … WHAT IF FOR EVERY BRAND NEW SET OF TIRES WE SELL BY THE FOURTH OF JULY, WE GIVE A FREE VASECTOMY?
EARL: GOOD GRIEF, YOU’RE GONE RUN US OUT OF BUSINESS! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO MAKE A PROFIT IF THE BILL SKIPS THE SNIPS?
CLEVIS: IT’S A GREAT IDEA EARL. THANK ABOUT IT … IT’S THE ULTIMATE GIFT OF INDEPENDENCE WHILE WE CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE!
(SINGING) INDEPENDENCE DAY! IT’S INDEPENDENCE DAY!
EARL: (LAUGHING) I NEED MY INDEPENDENCE FROM YOU, CLEVIS. COME ON OUT TO BLACKSTON TIRES AND VASECTOMIES AND GET A BRAND NEW SET OF TIRES SO YOU CAN SKIP THE SNIP ON YOUR BILL!
CLEVIS: (SINGING) IT’S INDEPENDENCE DAY!
I know. I’m just griping. I can’t help it. I’m a hard sell, and if it seems like you’re giving me the old razzle-dazzle, I’ll kick against it with every ounce of energy I have in me. That’s why I wouldn’t make a great salesman, unless I really believe in the product.
Although, if I ever think about having a vasectomy, it couldn’t hurt to get a nice set of new tires, could it?
Are you the creator of this podcast?
and pick the featured episodes for your show.
Connect with listeners
Podcasters use the RadioPublic listener relationship platform to build lasting connections with fansYes, let's begin connecting
Find new listeners
Understand your audience
Engage your fanbase