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The 2012 Hersky Awards

| March 23, 2012

By Al Herskovitz
H & H Communications

BRADENTON, Fla. — Those minor, frivolous awards shows – the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, etc. – have come and gone and are mostly forgotten.  Can anyone tell me who won the sound editing award for the best foreign language documentary?  Who won what for what is but a dim memory, if that.  All of this has been swept out of the way to make room for the most important of all: The 2012 Hersky Awards!

These are honors given to the very best in sales orientation in the talk format.  Keep in mind there is no fancy ceremony with the ripping open of envelopes followed by the inevitable pregnant pause.  No need to bring back Billy Crystal to salvage the event.  There is no red carpet to walk in fancy, designer clothes where focus is put on how much “pupick” you can expose. There is no need to hire some expensive accounting firm to verify the honesty, authenticity, secrecy of the judging.

The process is very simple.  There is only one judge.  (See name above.)  The judge reviews as much talk radio as he can hear and peruses as many talk station websites as he can view over the preceding 12 months.  Keep in mind that the awards go only to national entities since it would be impossible to assess all the local ones, many of whom would be quite worthy in their own markets.  There is one exception: local station website.

Now for the really important stuff.  The Hersky for the best dramatized commercial goes to Ally Banks.  They addressed a problem that drives consumers crazy: the automated response to your phone call and a phone button pushing routine that causes most of us want to set our hair on fire. “Press one for English.  Press two for Hurrian the only known language of the ancient Hittites, etc.”  This is followed by a series of options, none of which apply to your question.  Then you’re put on hold long enough for your infant daughter to graduate from MIT!  Ally demonstrated a version of this in its winning spot to indicate that a caller can immediately talk to a living person and get an answer.

The best pure copy award goes to Legal Zoom, an internet company that offers legal information and model forms to individuals for such things as wills and living wills and to budding entrepreneurs for vital areas such as incorporation, LLCs and DBAs.  The content is straightforward, clear and appealing without any outrageous claims or promises.

Jingles or singing commercials have almost disappeared from use.  Nowadays they are pretty much confined to tag lines, but you can sing a powerful message in a brief chorus.  The 2012 winner in this category is One Hour Air, a franchise air conditioning sales and service operation. Their musical ditty forcefully takes on an important customer concern in a brief choral line: “Always on time or you don’t pay a dime!”

One of the most difficult areas to judge is the Hersky for the best presentation of a live commercial by a nationally syndicated talk show host.  This is tough because the top-rated, most-popular of them all do a good job.  But the 2012 prize goes to Glenn Beck who has the unique skill of weaving commercials seamlessly into the flow of his program.  Two recent examples: Liberty Safes and Pajamagram.

Picking the best talk station sales-related website is difficult because of the paucity of contenders.  There are a countless number of sites, but very few do more than give minimal lip-service to their advertising sales effort.  However, we did find one talk station that was outstanding: KURV, McAllen, Texas.  The sales page is on an equal footing with all the other elements on its menu.  There is a profile of its sales department, the step-by-step process of developing a marketing plan, plus clear contact information.

The websites of scores of independently syndicated national talk shows were studied.  Most made no reference to ad sales at all.  Some buried the reference, so it was almost impossible to find and then just tossed it off with a contact name and e-mail address.  One I found did it right. Dave Ramsey gets that Hersky.  The ad page is titled Dave Recommends and offers a number of packages, describing them in great detail.  It also presents easily understood statistics.  All is wrapped up with contact information.

Before we conclude we most include a Nosey award.  A Nosey causes you to pinch your nostrils to avoid the stench.  Most talk stations air sponsored weather forecasts, sports scoreboards and traffic reports.  If the NBA and the NCAA have played games the night before, the scores are read at breakneck speed.  If there is more than one accident or tie-up, the traffic report is incomprehensible.  Add a planned 15- or 30-second spot jammed into five seconds and you hear a mass of words that you can’t decipher.  This is unfair to the advertiser whether it was paid commercial or a bonus.

While there might be a bit of tongue-in-cheek to all of the preceding, the Hersky Award winners are chosen in all seriousness.  Ad sales are a vital underpinning of radio and judging the best is done with care.  Any nominees for 2013?

Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications, a Bradenton, Florida-based national radio syndication and advertising company.  He can be phoned at 941-708-6520 or e-mailed at

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Category: Sales