Nov. 2007 issue

Whoa, Santa!!


Is it just me, or are we being herded into the earliest Christmas season in history? One of the Charlotte radio stations (that I will NEVER listen to again) began playing 100% Christmas music 24/7 as of November first. Just about any store you go into is all decked out in Christmas displays and merchandise. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that some kids got candy canes for Halloween!

So what happened to Thanksgiving? Oh, wait, I forgot… Christmas is all about religion while Thanksgiving is all about our country’s beginnings. The country’s doing OK… three and a third centuries, and going strong. But our religion is in trouble. That would be the religion based on retail sales, of course!

Projections for this season’s sales are “iffy”, and most stores pray for a good holiday season to bail out their dismal earnings this year.

What to do?!! Don’t wait for the traditional Friday-after-Thanksgiving starting bell, that’s what!

Push the season ahead. Make people start gift shopping in October, September… Shoot! Put jingle bells on the back-to-school stuff in August, if it’ll get folks thinking about Christmas giving early enough to pull in record sales!!

It worked for me. I decided back in September, when I saw my first retail Christmas display, that I’d try to make my gifts this year!

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Pumping Gas

With colder weather arriving, and holidays on top of us, I was called on to remind listeners about Chesapeake Energy's natural gas services. The Oklahoma-based New West Group and audio guru Bob Green put together a nice piece of production.

Thanks to Bob for sending along a copy of the finished product. I dont get to hear a lot of the productions that carry my voice, so if you've got something you're really proud of I'd love to hear it.

Happy Holidays!

How Dry I Am...

Irene and I returned to NC in the middle of their worst drought in decades! Lake levels are so low many boats are in dry-dock without ever leaving their own piers. The water shortage is so bad the YMCA had to close two lanes of the swimming pool!

We got a few drops of rain a week ago, and one of our neighbors fainted from shock! We revived her by throwing a bucket of dust in her face.

I can't believe I moved back to Charlotte from PA only to start praying for a snowy winter!!

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Zoned Out!

This month's featured client is a company dealing in music, rather than "spoken word" production.

Years ago, when I was still working in radio, one of the things that could really pump up an announcing staff was the arrival of a new jingle package!

It didn’t have to be station jingles. We used to await the latest beer and soft drink jingle packages each year with almost as much anticipation. This was the production of music with near perfection! The tight harmonies, lush instrumentation, and sheer precision of a 60 sec. full-sing jingle was, and is, near the ultimate achievement of the art of music recording!

There were jingle companies that became icons of this art. …Seems like, decades ago, the best of the best were located in Dallas, Texas. And those who dealt with them kept talking about some guy named Bruce Upchurch.

That same super-smooth, high quality jingle creation and production is now coming out of Arizona, from a company named “Zone Radio Imaging ” and a guy named… yep… Bruce Upchurch! Radio staffers still get all pumped up when a new set of jingles arrives… especially with the "Zone" label.

It is my pleasure and pride to be the voice on many of Bruce’s demos, and judging by the number of new packages I’ve introduced in the past few months, I’d say Bruce is definitely “in the Zone”!

A Glass of Thanksgiving?

First it was good old roast turkey. Then it was smoked turkey. And later, deep-fried turkey. Well, this year it's still another variation... turkey soda! And bottles of all the trimmings, too.

Yeeeech!

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Road Kill!

In order to attend a teacher’s conference recently, Irene and I drove from Charlotte, NC, to Grand Rapids, MI… about a 12 hour trip by car. It was a fairly pleasant drive except for what seemed to me to be a preponderance of blood and guts along the highways!

I counted an average of one dead deer for every half hour on the road, plus countless other smaller critters like raccoons, squirrels, cats and dogs. The sheer volume of animal carcasses was very disturbing. It was an awful lot of unnecessary death.

I also can’t help but think of the danger to drivers as well as wildlife. I hit a deer once, about thirty years ago. If the animal flips over the hood and comes through the windshield (as often happens) it can be life-threatening for the driver as well as the deer! These guys are very large and heavy. The damage to vehicles is usually quite substantial.

As winter settles in, temperatures drop, and vegetation becomes less plentiful, keep checking the roadsides for movement as you drive.

Bambi’s hungry, and may need to cross your path to get to food.

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Ouch!

Set-up: Sleepy Irene, middle of night, leg of bed, hapless toe!

Result: Fracture at joint where toe connects to foot. Weeks of walking funny, hurting a lot, and wearing a rigid orthopedic boot.

Next: I dunno... locusts?!?!

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On The Serious Side...

Advertising, and it’s related industries (like voiceover artists) are in a peculiar situation when the economy starts to flounder. We never really know what’s going to happen, but there is actually a potential for good things in some areas. Especially in a recession, which is where many fear we are going (or are already there!)

In a recession there is a shortage of spending because money is tight. Most companies start looking for ways to economize in their advertising, but know that they cannot really afford to stop advertising completely when there is so much competition for the few available dollars in the marketplace.So they look for more efficient uses of their advertising budget.

This usually means diverting money from high-priced print ads into lower cost broadcast commercials. A few inches of newspaper space equals a pretty healthy run on the radio, or even TV. It also means that these advertisers will start reaching a totally new demographic, and may experience a fairly good response at first. So they continue on their new course until things start to settle back to normal in the marketplace.

For people like me, and agencies or companies that specialize in broadcast advertising, a recession can often translate into a profitable surge in income. I’ve also found, in past recessions, that many industries start ramping up their internal promotion to keep employees feeling reassured and secure during troubled times. Again, much of this is accomplished through an increase in audio/video work such as orientation DVDs, video newsletters, motivational CDs and more. In other words, even more bonus work for those of us in the recording business.

I’m not saying we are immune to the pain of an economic downturn. But if we keep an eye on the trends, and try to move with them, we may have a better chance than many of surviving the worst.

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