Sunday, July 18, 2010

Listening Too Hard: Two -- Wait, Three -- No, Four -- Observations on Those "The Ticket Was My Idea" Ads

You know the ones I'm talking about.  The ones that sound like the Windows 7 TV ads.

(1) They're extremely weak.  There's nothing wrong with a parody, but these ads barely qualify.  The writer made no effort at humor or cleverness.  It's just guys describing Ticket features in extremely dull terms.   They could have had some real fun with this, teasing the hosts and the shows and the Tickers and all the rest, but those spots just lay down and die.  They're short but you can hardly wait for them to be over.  They make no impression on the ear at all.

By contrast, consider the "Most Interesting Radio Station in the World" ads that parody the Dos Equis commercials.  They are not particularly clever, but at least the writer tried to write some gags.  "They handle hot sports opinions without an oven mitt" is not going to make you forget Sam Kinison, but at least someone tried to make the spot entertaining. 

The "my idea" spots couldn't have taken more than a minute or two apiece to write.  I'm wondering if some P1s didn't get together, record those in their basement, and send them in.

(2)  How does Cumulus account for revenue on those spots?  Do they do a book transfer at The Ticket's normal ad rates from Cumulus to KTCK's revenue sheet?  Are they freebies, time donated by KTCK with no impact on the sales revenue figures? 

And does the increase (or at least it seems like an increase) in KTCK self-promotion mean that they're having trouble moving spots to paying advertisers?  I mean, what's the point of running them at all?  If you're hearing the ad you've already decided to listen to The Ticket, and, given The Ticket's listening audience, those listeners are probably already pretty loyal.  I realize there is some benefit to the brand from running self-promo ads, some bump in goodwill, some psychological impact among the demo of "belonging" to a special kind of radio club.  But they seem to be running an awful lot of them lately, and one would think that time is pretty valuable on a station with The Ticket's ratings.  (Or are advertisers balking because of the uncertain coverage of The Ticket's ragged signals?)

(3) It occurs to me that they run these spots because they want to broaden The Ticket's appeal to ethnics.  Some of the guys doing the ads are obvious non-Anglos.  Kind of like those Chevy truck ads with the Latino-sounding narrator.  (And like the Windows 7 ads themselves.)

(4)  You think it's easy being a radio talker?  You think anyone who knows something about sports, and can talk, can be a host?  You think our beloved Ticket stars have the easiest jobs in the world, not requiring any special talent or skill?  

Listen to the guys they got doing these ads (they really ought to have some women doing them).  Don't know who they are -- maybe Cumulus employees, maybe friends of the hosts or management, maybe P1s with an inside track.   Listen to how flat those voices sound (part of it is the flat copy they're being asked to read, but only a small part of it). 

Imagine any of them as a host and listening to them for three hours. 

And appreciate how talented your Ticket on-air guys really are.


Anonymous said...

My experience in radio (1994-2008) is that these promo spots are not any transfer between Cumulus and KTCK, they are simply marketing tools (albeit weak or strong) that double as station identifiers, similar to a "new music" plug that you may hear on The Bone, etc. They are scheduled by whoever does the advertising logs and may or may not be fillers for ads that haven't been sold. I think it depends, as you intimated, on how often you're hearing them. However, keep in mind that a P1 is obviously going to hear them more frequently than a casual listener. Hope that helps. Back to finishing my audition tape for the Top 10 and sending it off to the station vuvuzela.

Christy said...

A big WORD to your entire post, Mr. Plainsman. The bonus part for me is that I felt those sentiments, but I never would have been able to articulate why those spots seemed off. It is odd for a radio station that revolves around schtick and bits and being creative didn't have fun with the "The Ticket Was My Idea" promos.

It's funny you touch on the flatness of the "P1" voices because I've been wondering about the sounds of another set of voices: those of (former?) interns T.C. Fleming and Jake Kemp and consequently their places on the food chain at The Ticket. Have you noticed how Jake (who I believe interned after T.C. started at the station) was higher on the producing list than T.C. was during dry dock AND he's subbing as The Top Ten host, a prime speaking role for someone starting out in the radio biz?

While T.C. started out sounding like fake Norm's Andy Panda, his radio voice has gotten better over the past year or so. Jake, however, has a great deep radio voice; he's much more polished sounding than T.C. does, even now. Is this why Jake has gotten the more prominent on-air roles over T.C.? Or, did T.C. have a scheduling conflict with other activities? Or, is T.C. interested in more behind the scenes aspects? Or, was it Jake's turn to get these opportunities?

I wonder what management or the hosts have told T.C. about his voice. Will he mature into a more radio friendly voice? Has he worked with vocal coaches? Or, from listening to The Ticket's hosts themselves, has he learned that one's speaking voice isn't that important if you have more sports knowledge and create entertaining content?

The Plainsman said...

Anonymous, thanks for your insights. I could be wrong about there being more of the self-promo spots -- maybe I'm just noticing them more because they're so poor and content-free. Good luck with the Top 10 thing. I've caught a few minutes of the recent Top 10 "auditions." I think they're going to miss Chris House.

P1 Steven said...

You know what have been truelly funny? Mike Ryner doing those "The Ticket was my idea." THAT would actually get a good chuckle out of me.
CHRISTY- I agree & The TOP 10 has been an issues discussed by several shows. I believe Jake & TC are room mates as well. I think each of those individuals brings there own strengths. I rarely listen to The TOP 10 (because I listen all day at work) I would much prefer to hear an original show in the evening. I wrote a letter to Dan Bennett asking about this, and he said they have an easier time selling adds to a Top 10 show.

The Plainsman said...

More astute commentary from Christy. I haven't paid close attention to the T.C. v. Jake business. Circumstances have limited my listening the last several weeks so I've missed some of the fill-in stuff. The Ticket really plays with fire when someone leaves and they try to fill in. This is when one realizes that no matter how much they may think they dislike a particular host, The Ticket guys are truly talented broadcasters almost without exception. When even an experienced broadcaster fills in -- Rhadigan, for exmaple, and to some extent even Followill, and even guys like Matt McClaren -- the difference in the sound of the station is really startling, and not necessarily in a good way. When a pro substitutes, the station starts to sound more like the rest of the sports talkers (although I like Rhads and Followill a lot). When a young guy without broadcast experience fills in (the kid producers/board guys you mention), it's a real high-wire act. Hope one of them steps up, nice to see The Ticket giving an inside guy a chance to move up.

Christy said...

P1 Steven - I wish I could listen to The Ticket all day (or at the very least, record everything on my computer somehow and then go back and listen) so I'm thankful for the Top Ten. I wish they would always update the podcasts, no matter who the host is; I fall asleep to them. :)

And yes, Mike Rhyner doing those spots would have been genius.

Mr. Plainsman - I agree with you that it's startling to hear fill-in hosts. Who to you are professional subs that make the station sound like it usually does? Black and Quack? Mark Elfenbein?

...which makes me think of another topic idea: I wonder who will host the future weekday shows. How long will it take for the show/hosts to grow on P1s? I'm not a fan of any of the fill-in shows that appeared during dry dock and I can't imagine accepting any of them as one of our normal guys, but I'm sure people felt the same way when Bob and/or Dan joined the station. It took me awhile to get used to Donnie as Bad Radio's plus one.

I could have seen Ben and Skin joining the station as a fixture show before they left for greener pastures. I'm a fan of Sean Bass and I'll take a Sean and Ty Walker show.

I bring this up also because this issue will come upon us, maybe soon. Mike, the grand patriarch, is in his early 60s. Craig Miller has seriously considered leaving the station, as stated in Full Disclosure. Norm, who seems to be able to go on forever, is 66. I love the station's weekday programming as it is, but this can't go on forever...

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

For what it's worth, those "Ticket was my idea" ads are actually promos. They run at the start of every break, and naturally, promote something station related (Drag and Brag, Great Game, Most Interesting Radio Station, etc.) You might hear them in other parts of the break due to needing to fill a little time because of a technical problem or somesuch, but generally you hear them exclusively at the start of a break. I don't believe any money changes hands; the point is just to, well, promote the station.


The Plainsman said...

Michael, thanks for the info. Hadn't focused on the fact that they're at the beginning of the break. I understand the promotion of events, just a little fuzzy on the ubiquity of these general station promos.

Christy, I've thought a lot about the "next generation" at The Ticket. I think Mike R is going to be around for quite awhile. I wasn't aware Junior had expressed some restlessness. But change is inevitable, as Mike Bacsik could tell you. I've got on my topic list to speculate about this very subject so stay tuned. And thanks again for your contribution -- this kind of commentary is what I was hoping this site would encourage.

The Plainsman said...

Christy: By the way, you don't have to call me "Mr." I'm perfectly comfortable with "Plainsman," or, since you're such a friend of the site, you can call me "The."

(Actually . . . that might confuse new Confessors.)

The Plainsman said...

By the way, Michael, what are you doing up at 1:02 a.m.? A busy young chap like yourself should be safely in bed.

By the way, where is The Barley House? I don't hang out that much and don't know where any of these groovy spots are that you guys are always mentioning.

Michael said...

Haha! The beauty of having a noon-7 shift is that I can sleep til 10:30am and still get to work in plenty of time to git er dun. Good work if you can get it. :)

Barley House is at 5612 SMU Blvd., between 75 and Greenville. Let me know if you ever make your way over there and I'll buy you a pint!

P1 Steven said...

I just heard the new double radio ad & that is funny. Im glad they are back on track!

John DeLaNouche said...

I think it'd be pretty hilarious to have some of the 8:40 bit characters do the "ticket was my idea" promos. Imagine fake wade, fake jerry, george's blue flame, ed carter, or the sports guy (from this morning's bit about the marconi) or any of the other ones doing those.

And hey, I'll take these promos over the redneck IT master "burnis" (what kinda name is that anyway?) ads for (read in the burnis voice) that seem to play during every break on the wunderadio stream.

Keep up the good work Plainsman!