I was a college student at the time, fresh from creating a successful public service announcement for the American Heart Association. The station manager had seen this student-produced PSA and approached me to help create a commercial spot to help brand their station.
I enlisted a college friend of mine, Jason Wiltse, and together we came up with some ideas. What we didn't want was the generic DJ personality 'talking-into-the-lens' style ad that was typical of radio station advertising. We focused on a concept involving 'the return' of top-40 music to the airwaves.
So we decided to take the camera to the streets on a typical Saturday night and travel throughout Fargo-Moorhead to see what we could find. We captured activity among several iconic locations throughout Fargo/Moorhead - the Moorhead Dairy Queen (this location is known for creating the Dilly Bar), cruised downtown Fargo's Broadway district, the replica of the Statue of Liberty in Island Park, and what better way to capture the Fargo/Moorhead culture than by incorporating trains (there are literally dozens of trains that travel through the heart of the F/M area in a daily basis.) The result was the ad, 'It's Back.'
The station was very happy with the result. They liked the ad so much, they commissioned another ad.
For the second ad, we developed a concept we previously considered during the creation of the initial ad. The scene was a juxtaposition of an elderly lady, sitting and knitting in a old rocking chair in the middle of a room, listening to old, depressing music. Of course, this is her only alternative ... until KISS-FM starts playing. The scene changes drastically and before you know it, she is up dancing and having a great time. The ad is titled 'Little Old Lady.'
We shot the ad in the parlor of a 100-year-old home in Barnesville, Minnesota. Josephine, the star of the commercial, was a resident of the local nursing home (and as luck would have it, had some acting experience). The radio used in the ad is an old Crosley that my father had. It has made an appearance in a few of my set designs. I still have the radio in my office, waiting for the next gig.
The tune at the beginning of the ad is 'All Alone in the World Without You' written and performed by Eddy Arnold. I was looking for an old song that conveyed a sense of loneliness, and happened to literally stumble upon this song. My dad had boxes and boxes of old 78-rpm records and I visited him one day to find a song to use for this ad. This record was the very first one we played. When Eddy started singing the chorus, 'All alone in this world - all alone and so blue - Alone with my memories of you...' I yelled, 'That's it!'
in the Project:
Kiss-FM: It's Back
Kiss-FM: Little Old Lady