No doubt, but you must admit that a group of people spending a week setting four million dominoes on their end so they can claim a record when they push them over, is fairly devoid of intellectual acuity, also.
This does sort of remind me of a time, long ago, when I had my first job as third copywriter in a 50,000 watt radio station.
In the middle of February, the three of us in the copy department noticed that a fly had woken up, and was buzzing about the office.
When one of the afternoon disc jockeys came into the office, we pointed out that we had a fly in the middle of winter.
“Got’em!” Dan (for that was his name) cried, as he swatted our “miracle fly.”
Naturally, we all objected.
Sharon, who immediately named the fly “Herbie” ran to collect the fly’s remains before Dan could throw him in the waste basket.
We all got on Dan’s case, calling him a killer, and an assassin, and began planning Herbie’s funeral.
To get even with us, when Dan went on the air, he “confessed” his crime, claiming that he had made a natural mistake. He opened the lines, to let his audience voice their opinion. And, except for one of two cases, the majority claimed that they agreed with the writing staff.
Before his program was over, Dan promised that he would see that Herbie was given a decent funeral.
The next morning, Sharon brought in a matchbox inlayed with a flattened cotton ball, and Herbie (whose corpse had spent the night in an empty paper clip box) was laid out in his coffin.
Throughout Dan’s broadcast, other disc jockies and personalities around the building were dragooned into conducting interviews — reminisces of Herbie — with Dan on the air.
The copy department was working overtime, alternating the writing of or regularly assigned commercials, and seeing who could script the silliest interview about Herbie.
I must say that the on-air staff did a great job, sombrely reading their lines, never completely breaking up — although one could hear their voices straining at the effort.
Finally, in the middle of Dan’s broadcast, on the third day, we held Herbie’s funeral.
First there was the funeral music (30 seconds clipped from the opening of “Flight of the Bumblebee”) then Dan read the eulogy (on tape, because he took more than a dozen takes to get through it without cracking up) next, Two Seconds Silence (comparative weight for time) and then “Taps” (played at double speed.)
Finally, Herbie’s casket was carried in his funeral processional (An audio clip of the “Oh-We-Oh March” from the Wizard of Oz) and Herbie was lowered to his final resting place. (The sound of a toilet flushing.)
There was a light luncheon of Herbie’s favourite foods, which various of the other announcers, (recorded during their regular commercial production times) claimed they had attended.
They also tried to describe the foods on offer (You must imagine the ingenious euphemisms used to get around the fact that one could not, then, say on radio, what flies like to eat) but each one acknowledged that, for some reason or other, they had been unable to stay for the meal.
And that was the end of Herbie . . . or was it?
Two months later, “The Books” came out. “The Books,” being the ratings of radio and televison programs.
In those days — before the CRTC — ratings were handled by the Broadcast Board of Governors, who sent booklets that covered two weeks, with a place to mark down what you had watched, or listened to, for every 15 minute period of every day.
Most people filled them out and sent them back. Then the information was extracted from the booklets and collected as a statistical breakdown of how big an audience each station had, when the audience tuned in, and when they tuned out.
Dan had a regular and loyal following, but that winter’s book showed that in the second week, he had a three-day spike in his numbers. Because of that spike, his aggregate numbers were higher, and as a result, the station could charge advertisers more for the time, when commercials ran in Dan’s program.
I doubt that there is a moral to this story.
Had we planned it, or worse, had we been assigned to do it, I feel certain we would not have reached most of the heights of silliness that we reached during those three days.
It could have gone differently.
There were a couple of Grinches in the station who protested – with some accuracy – that we were acting childish. The audience might have agreed with them.
With radio, some of the moments are golden, some of the moments are lead.
Herbie was a Golden Moment.