Q It Up: What's your favorite piece of work that, for one reason or another, never aired? Whether it’s a killer spot or promo that got rejected, a comedy bit too raw to air, a back-room promo meant only for internal ears, or a campaign that got canceled due to tragic circumstances (i.e., concert promo for Prince)... what are you especially proud of that just didn't make the cut, and what's the story behind it? And if you still have the audio, send it with your reply! We’ll post on the Soundstage!
Those marked with the * before the name have associated audio on the Soundstage!
*Al Peterson, Arlington VA: When the TV campaign "Viva Viagra" aired in 2009 (using the Elvis tune "Viva Las Vegas"), we did our own in-house-only version that boasted superhuman penile feats after taking the blue pill -- things like raising your car to fix a flat when you forgot your jack, detecting metal coins on the beach, pointing up into space and receiving satellite television... you name it.
Cameos include a bad Richard Nixon impression, Kyle from South Park, and Madeline Kahn from Blazing Saddles.
The lyrics and effects were dopey enough. We decided not to air it because of the 200-Boner Salute we added at the end.
God, I hope I never grow up.
Joey DiFazio, Sirius/XM, New York, NY: Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) there are far too many instances of promos that got rejected to remember. However, I never view it as lost time. I’ve gotten into the habit of labeling rejected projects “not used’. Then, when I’m in a pinch, I’ll retool an old project and pull a rabbit out of my hat. It’s amazing how this impresses people – and sometimes the same people who rejected it the first time. That’s always good for a chuckle… but privately, of course!
*Don Elliot, 1500 AM, Los Angeles, CA: "Oreck... It really sucks". This actually aired briefly… We had lost the account and this got it back but it did not make the schedule. It's one of the funniest pieces I've ever put together… I even used my boss, David G. Hall starring as "Dusty Dirtbag", the door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who wore a wig.
*Eric Rubalcava: When I started my production company, I started out by listening to local commercials, notating the one's I thought could use some help. I would then deconstruct the spot to see if I could find a better way to present the key points or concept. One day, I heard a particularly bad spot for a local pest control company, and was immediately inspired. The ad was for Truly Nolan. I knew very little about the company, but as I listened to the spot, I remembered that they were the guys driving around with their vehicles embellished with giant mouse ears! In my mind, the ears on the car gave the company character! It seemed to me that a company with enough character to bolt giant mouse ears to their car, would want their commercial to reflect that character in some way... However, the commercial on air was hard sell, seemed to be voiced by an owner, and was dripping with local "flair". I sat down that afternoon, wrote the copy, created a character, and had a blast! After the spot was finished, I had planned to pitch it to the company, but got busy with other work and never went through with the pitch. Sadly, Marvin the mouse never made his on-air debut, but would later join a symphony of other characters that came together to create a 1 minute Character VO demo.
*Dave Savage, VP, iHeartMedia Creative Studio, Altanta, GA: This one doesn’t technically apply to the topic, but it’s close. In 2005 our news talk station was the flagship for the Atlanta Braves. There were, I forget the exact number, maybe 10 to 15 day games that would preempt the Rush Limbaugh program, but we were contractually obligated to run that show on one of our stations, and management chose the oldies station I imaged. One problem, we had to fill the 7 minutes at the top of the 2nd and 3rd hours because we weren’t going to run newscasts.
Since this would be a totally different audience than we usually have, I suggested to my PD we try to grow our regular audience by doing an infomercial like they do for those Time-Life music collections from the 70’s or 60’s. They don’t sell the music as much as the feeling of the era. Since I had a few months to work on it I gathered as many news and historic clips as I could then talked to listeners who were old enough to remember that era.
I just listened to it again now and feel I’m a much better producer today than I was then, but still, I was pleased at the time with the way it turned out and heard it air twice during the first Braves day game. As luck would have it they switched the format within a few days after and it never aired again. Between researching, gathering the audio and producing it, I bet I had 60+ hours into this. It seemed worth it to me for a 7 minute piece that would air 15 to 30 times but definitely not worth it for something that only aired twice.
Jay Rose CAS, www.jayrose.com: A few years ago, an agency for the region's largest bank asked me to do an audio doc about how well they treat "high-value" investors: what perks they give millionaires, how smart their investments are, how cleverly they dodge taxes. A long-form commercial on why the bank should hold their money. It would be distributed to one-percenters, to be played in their cars while they were driven to work.
The agency's suits lined up a dozen lawyers, doctors, and captains of industry for testimonials. I grabbed my gear and a necktie, and three agency "producers" and I started visiting these wealthy subjects. The producers cautioned, "Make a big fuss about mic placement and acoustics and getting a perfect recording of their voices. It'll remind them how important they are."
The interviews went well and we put the thing together. The bank loved the edit, we added music, and the suits started taking it to the subjects to show it off, give them souvenir CDs, and get final approval.
Then I got a phone call. "Mister [boss of a giant retain chain, who voices his own commercials] needs us to take his voice out. He says he didn't know he was being recorded." I protested: "He saw me setting up a couple grand of equipment!" They said, "He thought we were just being careful about getting accurate notes!"
His signed release? The lawyers said he's rich, so we'd have to ignore it.
We did a new version and apparently it recruited new customers for the bank.
But the following weekend I recut his interview, rearranging some words, creating others. The result? A convincing monolog about his very tawdry affair with a female banker. The kind of thing they're calling "locker room talk" this election.
I played it for the suits (and nowhere else). It turned them white. I figured it was a lesson about being more careful producers next time.
Funny... they never called me again.
*Bruno Strapko, Strapko Recorders: Years ago a partner and I had a spot production company called Parker Associates. We were developing a syndicated show with a client (related disappointment - that also never came to fruition), and I had done audio work for Kraft, so we made a spec spot for the syndication demo and also sent it off to our clients at Kraft. Everyone loved it, but it went nowhere. Oh well!
Colm Dunphy: Produced imaging for the website for a new station during the license application. As we didn't have the radio license, we couldn't get permission to use it on the web, records companies didn't give permission! Year was 2001.
*Michael Shishido, 94.7 KUMU Programming Dir. Creative Services, Honolulu, HI: I remember well producing this spot. The various voices were collected here and there throughout our station. The main voice is a jock that used to work for us, Michelle Shockley. She read it beautifully, and barely held it together through the one or two takes. She was in tears. Being a woman, this subject was very close to her. We put it together and expected the same kind of reaction we all had at the station. Wonderful, heartfelt, emotional spot that hits home for victims as well as their friends and family. The organization decided to go with a spot that was far less emotional, more like a standard commercial.
*Dave Stalker, Production Director, Combined Communications, Bend, OR: This was an attempt to break out of the standard tractor sales mold: "We sell tractors, they dig holes, buy our tractors". It got turned down flat, I think the ad agency felt threatened by my creative approach. I did both voices for The Sarge and Pvt Riley.
*Steve Wein, Creative Services Director, KTRS, St. Louis, MO: Most of us who do what we do have to write and produce promos for hum-drum events, such as your typical election night coverage. Usually that contains the basic info, such as what day and time, and the usual propaganda about how great the news department will cover it. Blah blah blah.
But back in 2010, I went in a different direction to add entertainment value and a sense of humor to the promo. Unfortunately, since the market I had moved to is rather conservative, it was shot down by management even before it aired. It's the KTRS Erection Coverage promo.
Another example is the Genesco spot that is attached. We all get poorly written multi voice copy from so-called ad agencies that is filled with clichés and written in long run-on sentences. Not the way two individuals would actually talk. So, I asked the two female talents to riff on the copy to make it sound more believable, and this is what transpired. Obviously it never aired.
I had created my business name back when I was in Springfield, MO at KWTO-FM. At the time, my VO business was beginning to ramp up and I had just signed with Scott Shannon to be the secondary voice of Pirate Radio and the main voice on their satellite feed.
Not sure how, why, when or where exactly I was when I came up with the name, but I began calling my VO company, “Creative Radio Audio Productions” or “C.R.A.P.”
This was an incredibly produced demo, with scenes like a movie that showcased the image voice, the incredible production and the creative writing that Brian (and a little bit me) was doing in the imaging of Y95 and then the gold station it became, “Oldies 94.9”.
I have lost track of this demo over the years. Probably when I became homeless, but I would love to get my hands on it. But, needless to say, when someone heard this dazzling demo, they called us and shared with radio friends. It was never meant for air, but if I were to give it the props it deserves, I would say it was along the lines of “Nine – The Ultimate Radio Format”
*Archer Dusablon: This was a bit about New York's mayoral I wrote and produced in 1989 at WPLJ/New York. It never aired because ABC attorneys were uncomfortable with the use of the Beatles track.
*Teri Michelle, FM Production Director, Sinclair Communications, Norfolk, VA: Going thru emails this morning, I started reminiscing over some early production days and remembered this early creation when I had just taken over the duties of Production Director in 2012.
I was determined to stretch. I was eager to show off what a real spot should sound like. All my years of daydreaming and cartoon watching was going to finally pay off. The world was about to see, eh, hear.
The client said, uh... NO!
Didn't like anything about the spot and vowed to go elsewhere if we did not produce another spot. So...