by Dan O'Day on October 20, 2014

Terry Moss was an unpretentious, supremely talented, highly creative radio personality and production wizard.

He had cool, fun ideas and brought them to life — among them, the Cheap Radio Thrills series that still is used by radio stations around the world.

I’ve heard Cheap Radio Thrills cuts on the programs of virtually every “big name” in North America, regardless of format.

Terry was a friend, inspiration, cohort and pal.

He died 20 years ago. Saturday, October 25, is his birthday.

For the rest of this week, I’m going to tell you about Terry Moss.

Terry Moss

Terry founded L.A. Air Force (which now is part of my company), and he was Editor and then Publisher of a show prep service I founded, Galaxy.

His sense of fun caused the Federal Communications Commission to make a new rule against — well, basically, a rule against having fun on the radio.

I’ll tell you that story — complete with audio — later this week.

His sense of conscience almost got him court martialed while broadcasting for Armed Forces Radio & Television in the Panama Canal Zone.

Terry Moss played the last Top 40 record on the legendary KHJ/Los Angeles.

He was one of a handful of air talents chosen to figure out how to deliver a personality-oriented music program via satellite to stations across the country.

People who knew him as a production guy don’t talk about his editing skills. They say, “When he was in the production room, he was so creative — Well, it was amazing.”

Everyone I’ve ever met who worked with Terry as a disc jockey says he was the most prepared jock they’d ever seen — and the most relaxed behind a microphone.

He never had to try to be a radio personality. He just sat down, opened the mic, and made his listeners feel at home as a host welcomes guests to his party.

Here’s Terry, as part of the first panel session I ever moderated at an NAB radio convention.

This is one of radio’s all-time shining stars, talking directly to you, trying to help if he can. That’s what Terry Moss always did.


Yeah, the rest of us on the panel thought he was talking about the power of “the tease,” too.

But that’s not it.

Because Terry chose not to reveal his secret immediately, I’ll honor his wish and wait until tomorrow to share it with you.

Tomorrow: Terry reveals his secret show prep method. Plus…the story of how he almost spent a couple of years in a military prison — because he had something to say that he was willing to risk his freedom for.

The L.A. Air Force Terry Moss Collection



by Dan O'Day on October 13, 2014

Ace Hardware radio commercialI want you to do something that radio listeners don’t:

Listen to this commercial from the beginning.

Listen closely to the entire commercial.

Okay, you interrupted whatever you were doing to actively listen to that spot.

Hey, look behind you! Isn’t that…?

Sorry. Hope I didn’t momentarily cause you to stop thinking about that commercial.

So, you interrupted whatever you were doing to actively listen to that spot.

Of all the informational elements the advertiser wanted to communicate, how many can you recall?

Someone Needs to Tell Ace Hardware…

1.  The opening line of a radio advertisement is the commercial for the commercial. It’s your one chance to grab the attention of your targeted listener.

“Ready for another luxurious offer?”

“You know I am!”

“Good! Because it’s more fabulous savings…”

Because this spot was trying to sell — wait for it — paint, presumably the targeted listener is someone who buys paint and patronizes Ace Hardware.

Forty-seven per cent of the spot passed before any listener possibly could know what it was about.

Listeners tuned out the “commercial for the commercial” and thereby missed the entire sales message.

2.  In a dialogue spot (even when it’s two announcers blandly reading their lines), at least one of the characters should represent the target audience. Listeners should be able to identify with at least one of the people delivering the sales message.

Which of those two people did you identify with?

I haven’t seen the consumer research, but I’m guessing neither of those women represents the typical Ace Hardware Store customer.

3.  A dialogue spot had better have a really good reason for putting music underneath it. This one didn’t. (“The client has a jingle” isn’t a good enough reason.)

The music did help to obscure the announcer’s monotone delivery of the details of what they actually were trying to sell. So perhaps some good came of it.

But maybe I’m not giving the advertiser enough credit.

Perhaps the co-op money from the three vendors exceeded the cost of the spot buy, and Ace Hardware made money by pocketing the difference.

If not, then somebody made money by producing a negative R.O.I. on the client’s radio budget.



by Dan O'Day on October 7, 2014

Geoffrey Holder 7-Up CommercialIn addition to being illuminated by Geoffrey Holder’s performances, the 7-Up campaign was a rare great example of a true “positioning” campaign:

7-Up was selling much less than the leading cola brands, Coke and Pepsi.

Why? Because more people wanted to drink Coke and Pepsi.

They took a hitherto irrelevant product detail and used it to differentiate 7-Up from the market leaders in a positive way:

Colas have caffeine. 7-Up doesn’t have caffeine.

7-Up declared itself the “uncola” and that as far as caffeine was concerned: “Never had it. Never will.”

The implication was that 7-Up never would stoop to adding wicked, harmful caffeine to its recipe.

For the first time, when ordering a soft drink some people starting thinking, “Hmmm. Do I really want that caffeine right now?”

View the Geoffrey Holder 7-Up commercial on YouTube.

Here’s an article that discusses the positioning pros & cons of radio stations that boast “commercial free music.”


GCI Solar radio commercialHere’s the third in our Trilogy o’ Terrible Radio Advertising.

As with the commercials we critiqued on Monday and on Tuesday, this one aired on September 1:

The client is GCI Solar.

I’m not playing the rest of the ad, because it’s an endorsement spot read by one of the station’s jocks, and there’s no point in embarrassing him.

But in Los Angeles — especially this year, with its record-breaking heat — “Summer is here” is not news. It officially arrived more than two months ago.

It was 102 degrees in my neighborhood when that “good news” spot was played.

“Some really good news” would be, “Summer is OVER!”

But it’s neither here nor is it news.

If you begin your radio commercial with a declaration that makes you sound stupid and out of touch with your audience, there’s no hope of getting your sales message delivered to your target audience.



by Dan O'Day on September 3, 2014

radio commercial critiqueRemember the terrible Lowe’s Home Improvement “Labor Day” radio commercial?

It was immediately followed, in the same stopset on the Los Angeles radio station where I heard it, with this bad commercial for a direct competitor:

“Orchard” is not some beloved, well known character representing the advertise.

The listener is expected to figure out that the person being addressed as “Hey, Orchard” is some sort of personification of Orchard Supply Hardware.

This commercial tells the story of how “Orchard” is spending his Labor Day weekend, as he relates it to an unknown second party and the two of them engage in vapid banter.

The story could have centered on how the targeted listener could save 8.75% on “almost anything in the store.”

Instead, the listener is left with a mental picture of two “voices,” nothing more.


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