Is There a Darci in Your Market?

  • Darci the bank teller caught me off guard.

    "I want to do a radio commercial. I want to be on the radio," she said.

    "Really." I replied.

    "Yeah, I want to do a spot for our new CD. I'd be good at it!"

    In the short time Darci had been working at the bank she'd become a favorite with her customers, myself included. Her quirky repartee was equally amusing and endearing; people rarely left her window without smiling or chuckling.

    Why not? I thought. The bank manager was a good client, and I knew he wouldn't object to the experiment. If it worked, he'd be glad to put it on the air. If not...well, no harm done.

    "OK, sure. Let's give it a try." Darci was genuinely excited and said she had some ideas for the commercial. We scheduled a recording session, allowing ourselves plenty of time for improvisation. The result was this.

    The bank manager liked it, authorized it for airplay, and for a few weeks Darci became the new voice of the bank.

    Fast forward a few years. Darci is now working full-time for the school district and I haven't seen her in ages. One day I get a call from my CPA, for whom I've done some advertising during tax season. She tells me that she's purchasing a local video store, a mom-and-pop operation that's been a steady advertising client of mine for years, under a couple of different owners, and she wants to relaunch the store with an advertising blitz featuring a new spokesman—Darci!

    Turns out Darci is her neighbor and friend. And she thinks Darci's unique personality and voice are perfect for the new campaign.

    So, once again Darci and I are collaborating together in the recording studio, playing with different ideas and angles. Before long, this spot has more or less written itself:

    From Day One it generates comments from listeners and customers who think Darci's a hoot. And we have the makings of a brand new schtick for the client. A few weeks later, a second spot follows. Then a third. And a fourth. Over the next several years, Darci records at least thirteen different commercials, including this one, a finalist in the 2005 Radio-Mercury Awards competition:

    Since then, Darci has done other work for me. I've hired her to voice some of our syndicated features for GBS, and I've had clients hire her to do their commercials. Although she's had no formal training as either an actress or producer, she's proven capable of doing terrific work.

    So, I consider myself fortunate to have been standing in line at the bank the day Darci had the itch to "be on the radio." And I sometimes wonder, who else might be out there — waiting tables, running a cash register, answering phones or reading to kids at the public library — waiting to be discovered and recruited for radio advertising work.

    Might there not be someone in your market, too - someone with whom you interact regularly, just waiting to become your Darci?

  • Julie Lekwauwa
    Julie Lekwauwa Rod,
    These spots are great! She is really funny. So how much do you pay your voice talent? We have struggled with this for years at our small market station. Some people don't ask about compensation, but we always feel we should pay something...just not sure what it is.
    Julie Slanaker
    KFMJ 99.9 FM
    November 25, 2010
  • Rod Schwartz
    Rod Schwartz Joel,

    I'd love to hear some of those ads, if you still have access to them. Hard to beat real life, isn't it?

    December 1, 2010