BRADENTON, Fla. — When the reference here is to Clio, it’s not about the Queen of Egypt. How about Grammy? No, not your mother’s mother. Of course there’s Obie which is an obtuse way to say “gynecologist.” And finally Oscar which, with Felix, made up the duo on that old and recently revived TV sitcom – “The Odd Couple.” Oddly these names are the regularly recognized titles of those yearly show-biz awards, all of which now are swept away by the most important of all the yearly prizes — one you can’t define in any other way — The 10th Annual Hersky Awards.
For the uninitiated who have been living in a remorte, dark cave ‘lo these recent years, this event honors the very best in talk radio sales and advertising.
To bring you current on the strict judgment rules, they vary from year to year at the whim of the committee which consists of just one person. (See name above.) There is no golden statuette of a naked man holding a sword to hide his privates or a Waterford crystal globe with the winner’s name neatly imprinted in bold bodoni in the space provided. Just major acknowledgement in this space for the entire talk media world to witness. Also the awards are pretty well confined to national entities or national concepts available to the committee. (See previous committee statement.) So now the envelopes, please!
The first Hersky goes to the national talk show host who presents a national commercial in an outstanding manner. The award goes to Hugh Hewitt who delivers a 60-second spot in the same fashion as he does his show and blends smoothly from his program content into the commercial. He doesn’t yell, but delivers the message enthusiastically and in his normal tone of voice and tempo.
Sean Hannity wins a Hersky for the national host who has done local commercials for his affiliates. The one I recently monitored was for a financial advisory company in my listening area. These local spots for local affiliates voiced by national hosts make listeners feel that the host is part of their community, and not some distant voice from far, far away.
Selecting the commercial of the year was very difficult since there were several excellent ones in a extremely tight race. Interestingly enough, all the finalists were presented “live” or pre-recorded to sound “live.” No jingles, or bells or whistles. Blue Ribbon Foods just manged to edge out its competitors for the big trophy with a compelling story about the quality and variety of its gourmet food products that may be ordered online and delivered directly to the customer’s door.
For the fully-produced national commercial this Hersky goes to Firestone Tires. Firestone uses a unique way to get the attention of the listener. An announcer with an extraordinarily deep voice delivers the pitch. This ear-perking technique appears to have replaced the jingle or singing commercial. Fully sung jingles have all but disappeared from the air. At best you hear singing intro or tag lines such as “O-O-O, O’Reilly” for the auto parts chain of stores. But Firestone’s super-basso voice causes the listener to pay attention.
No annual awards ceremony would be complete without one Nosey. Noseys are awards that want to make you hold your fingers to your nose. This year’s Nosey goes to program hosts who pre-record live spots which are jammed back-to-back within a single break in their own shows and open with a line such as “This is Charlie Potzereebee for…..” Then a second spot with the same opening line. Then a third with the same. Then they race through each one at mind-numbing high speed. Alright, already! We know who you are! And slow down, so you’re understandable!
But this is just a minor bump in the road. It has been an outstanding year for the fine presentation of commercials and brand new categories using the talk radio. Have you heard those great ones for men’s underwear?
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: email@example.com.