November 26, 2022

The bad and the ugly of the airwaves

Posted on 11. Aug, 2011 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

The recession has hurt millions of Americans, but I’m wondering just how much more pain we can take! I’m talking about radio and TV commercials. I’m an avid radio listener or used to be before the radio stations began loading us up with 5-6 commercials in between 3-4 minute talk segments. If that weren’t bad enough, the commercials are all alike!

They go something like this… “Do you have $10,000 worth of credit card debt? Are you afraid the repo man is going to come to take away your Nash Rambler from your driveway? Is the IRS getting ready to slap a lien on your prosthetic leg for unpaid taxes? If so, call Debt Erasers at 505/555-5555. That’s 505/555-5555. Once more, 505/555-5555. Did I say 505/555-5555? I did.”

The announcers all sound alike, too. They have that Armageddon voice that makes you want to dig a  deep hole and bury yourself alive just to escape the rest of the commercial which goes something like this. “Experts agree that the economy as we know it will falter and eventually self-destruct. Your investments are like so much shifting sand. While the world disintegrates around you and all our institutions fail, you will be sitting pretty if you only buy _______ (fill in the blank). With ______ (fill in the blank), you’ll have the comfort that comes from a secure investment while your neighbors are dying like flies. Just pick up the phone today and call _______ (fill in the number and repeat it at least four times throughout the rest of the commercial).  Don’t delay. Someone could be walking up your driveway at this very moment.”

These debt reduction companies and financial carpetbaggers are swarming around the airwaves like flies on cow pies. Every time I hear something positive during a talk show (which is seldom these days), I’m body-slammed by these fear mongers. Then there’s the car dealers who must wake up every morning to Tony Robbins tapes. What else could explain their enthusiasm?  “Hi, this is Dennis Slyman and I’m going to tell you about this absolutely fantastic super-tremendous deal we have on the all-electric, hydrogen, bio-fuel car, the ‘Unbelieveable 2.’

The U2 has just been voted the world’s most versatile green vehicle by Car and Rutabaga Magazine. Not only will it get 100 miles to a liter of V8 juice, but it will also double as a blender for your health food drinks. Why not stop in to our showroom and test-drive this beauty? With a $55,000 price tag – that’s after the generous $45,000 U.S. government rebate – you can own the new age car of choice among politically-correct drivers! We’re open 24 hours at Louisiana and Lomas. Come on down! Plenty of balloons for the kiddies!”

I tried two approaches to avoiding the commercials but neither worked. The first was to turn off the radio for five minutes at a time, but I kept forgetting to turn it on again. The second was the ‘favorite station’ button. I would program the radio for my favorite stations and then switch back and forth the moment the commercials came on. The station producers were too smart for me. They were all running commercials at the same time, so I ended up hearing bits and pieces of commercials which was far more irritating than if I had heard one station’s all the way through.

My absolute most despised commercials, though, are those done by the owners of the establishments, themselves. What possesses these people to think they can do radio stand-up humor? If I hear, “Hi, I’m long-legged Sue and I’m handsome Jose from Exploding Tires on Menaul one more time, I swear I’m going to kidnap the both of them tie them up with inner tubes and dump them on the front lawn of the FCC. Is that over the top?

- Editor



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