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Radio Ranch Rustles Up Comedic Ads for Dealers

The Famous Radio Ranch in Sherman Oaks donated their creative talent and recording studios to make radio ads they hope will help boost sales at auto dealers across the country. Stations can download the three ads for free from the Radio Ranch website and a special site set up by Radio Ink, a radio industry trade publication. As of mid-March some 500 stations from markets including New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and Florida have downloaded the spots. Auto dealer ads have long been the “bread and butter” of many stations, said Sandy Orkin, president of the Ranch, which he operates with his brother Dick, creative director Christine Coyle and an office of ranch hands. Eric Rhoads, publisher of industry trade publication Radio Ink, came up with the free ads idea as a way to help both radio and auto dealers. Radio stations, Sandy Orkin said, are notorious for taking public service announcements and playing them at times with the least listeners. Because the reputations of the Radio Ranch and Dick Orkin are so well known in the industry, Sandy Orkin expects the ads will run during drive time. The radio spots written and recorded by the Orkins, Coyle and the staff are done in the format of comedic dialogues and the auto ads are no different. In one a married couple bickers over the bad condition of the husband’s car; in another a father buys his daughter a horse rather than a car until convinced otherwise (and then uses the horse as a trade-in). “From a philosophical standpoint using humor breaks through the clutter,” Coyle said. “When you do that you make a strong connection and reward the listener.” The Orkins and Coyle got their start in Chicago where Dick Orkin created the radio serials “Chickenman” and “The Tooth Fairy.” They moved west 30 years ago, settling on LaBrea Avenue in Hollywood. As the studios became better known more calls came in from third parties wanting to rent studio time. There was not enough space for the Orkins to do their projects and rent the facilities for outside projects. “It was an expansion issue,” Coyle said of the move to Sherman Oaks in 2006. Being in the Valley also puts the Ranch closer to the voice-over talent who live there and makes it more convenient for out-of-town clients to fly into Bob Hope Airport in Burbank rather than LAX. The d & #233;cor of the Ventura Boulevard office is just what you would expect from a company called the Radio Ranch with a lot of wood, western movie posters and cowboy photos, statues and trinkets. The three studios respectively are named Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill and Cochise. Annie Oakley is used by the Ranch hands for radio commercials and audio projects. The other two are rented out to record audio books, sales training voiceovers, and audio for video games. Buffalo Bill has video capability for putting words to pictures. “We’re doing more post-production than we ever would have at the other location,” Dick Orkin said. Film Noir Festival Author and film buff Eddie Muller has combed the archives of Warner Bros. and Universal Studios to bring rarely seen film noir titles to the annual festival he organizes with American Cinematheque. “Deadline: Noir City” begins April 2 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and features two dozen films of a genre that developed out of post-war cynicism and filled with moody black-and-white cinematography, drifters, private dicks, corrupt cops, femme fatales luring hapless male protagonists into situations that can only end in death, and lots and lots of cigarette smoke. It didn’t take much convincing by Muller for the studios to understand the value of showing these films. The challenge, however, is the dwindling number of theaters that can show 35mm prints as well as the condition of the prints themselves, many of which were damaged during their original runs. “I am the guy trying to increase the demand of these films and preserving and protecting them because in many cases that is the last print left,” said Muller, who lives in San Francisco where he operates the Film Noir Foundation to restore forgotten films. Some of the titles in this year’s festival include the only known print of “Chicago Deadline,” a new print of “Alias Nick Beal” both from Universal, “While the City Sleeps,” “Out of the Past,” and a restored version of “The Prowler” paid for by Muller’s foundation. Of all the major studios Warner Bros. is most identified with the genre, not only because the studio made such classics as “The Big Sleep” but also due to its ownership of the pre-1950 MGM catalogue and the RKO Radio Pictures catalogue that Muller refers to as “the house of noir.” While a great fan of film noir, Muller admitted it is unfair that the genre should get such priority on the revival circuit. “There are westerns and comedies in the vaults that are in need to be rescued and salvaged, too,” Muller said. What’s In a Name? Angela Rose White considered several different names before settling on DaBet Music Services for her new Studio City-based firm promoting the catalogues of established and up and coming musical artists. The name combines those of her parents David and Betty Rose. David Rose was a well-known composer who later operated a publishing company from his Sherman Oaks home until his death in 1990. White, an attorney, gradually became more involved with family-owned David Rose Publishing and stepped in full-time to devote the time needed to handle royalty analysis, collections, and licensing the music domestically and internationally. DaBet, however, is run as a separate company but the expertise and knowledge White gained from David Rose Publishing guides the services offered to clients. “The DaBet name had significance as well because it was betting on the day,” White said. “It was the concept of this is the horizon and the day coming up and of emerging catalogues.” A look at the firm’s roster reveals a blending of world music with standard American music. DaBet represents some of the catalogue of ’50s R & B; group The Platters, a composer whose work appeared on “The Sonny and Cher Show” who also co-wrote a song for Elvis Presley, as well as a Ugandan hip hop artist that White has teamed with a New Zealand musician for a joint project. With the music industry in shambles, fragmented radio audiences, and compact disc sales plummeting while digital downloads both legal and illegal rising, many artists no longer believe there is a stigma in having their music attached to commercials. To that end, White works with U.S. and foreign advertising agencies to get the older material DaBet administers onto toy or greeting card ads and to have it re-purposed in new ways, such as through sampling or some other twist. It’s all about making sure that the artists are not forgotten by the listening public and that they and their estates get their due. “Look at royalty statements,” White said. “If there is a composer not seeing income and they can bring in the statement we can help them regroup. Just because time has passed doesn’t mean you are not entitled to these things.” Staff Reporter Mark Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or by e-mail at mmadler@sfvbj.com . He’s lived in California for five years as of March 26.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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