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Review by Dick Orkin
The Famous Radio Ranch
Reprinted from Radio Ink, August 13, 1999

I am often asked, “Dick, how do you guys at the Radio Ranch come up again and again with radio spots that are not only funny but sell product?” Over the years I have developed an enigmatic smile as a response. Oh, yes, at some workshops we give away a few ideas, but we don’t give away the darn store! Well, my enigmatic smile and guarded, mystery days are over. And it’s all because of Bill West and Jim Conlan of Houston-based Radio Works. They accomplished this inside-secrets betrayal in an easy-to-read and funny book, Radio Advertising 101.5: the Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Better Radio Advertising.

I’ll be honest: when I was asked to review this book, I was so suspicious that I asked for reassurance that I could call it as I saw it. But darn, the guys did it right, and – I don’t mind saying it – I am plenty sore. I am not the only one who will suffer. You know those hundreds of agency copywriters, Radio Copywriters and Radio AE’s (responsible for writing in the vast majority of U.S. radio stations) who grouse about lack of time or know-how for creating good radio advertising? Well, they have had all their excuses scuttled by Radio Advertising 101.5.

West and Conlan also introduce a concept we use at the Radio Ranch but never named, and that’s because we never thought of it in the original way they do. They call it “The Intersection”™ , meaning “the logical connection between the advertiser’s agenda and their prospect’s agenda.” It makes sense, and it works as a reminder filter for over-the-top spots that tend to run away from the advertiser’s agenda.

These guys don’t just throw out hard-to-follow, abstract ideas. Instead, they have the gall to actually show you how to do it, in detail, with example after example of what works and doesn’t work and even how to make it work. The book includes a CD of the spot examples, including an award-winning spot – one which I’ve told people is my spot when asked. I guess that’s over.

Just as their title promises, Radio Advertising 101.5 is step-by-step. Their organizing and naming of the steps are explained with wit and wisdom, all thoughtfully laid out (with funny pictures of the guys that help dramatize the points made). In fact, I reluctantly report that the whole book is masterfully organized, covering everything from understanding the medium through humor, production, music and sound effects. They didn’t leave anything out – and I resent it… deeply. Get a copy and keep it by your word processor. Also, give a copy to all advertisers. We plan to do both; and no, I’m not happy about this, the best practical book published so far on modern radio advertising.



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