Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bob Crane and His Gimmicks Galore

TV Radio Mirror / December 1955
"Man of the Morning"

It was his trademark. For nearly every commercial and almost every song, Bob Crane had a gimmick. From a woman coughing over a cigarette jingle, to a famous race car driver piloting a TWA plane, to Ed Good Drivers Rhymers chugging away in a dilapidated car for Allstate Auto Insurance, his gimmicks were a hit. An integral part of his show, and thus, part of his radio signature, these gimmicks and sound effects were what made his show so much fun for audiences. Once sponsors figured out that a smattering of Crane's humor sprinkled throughout their commercials was lucrative, they wanted more. A lot more. Air time during The Bob Crane Show became one of the easiest time slots to sell to sponsors.

Right from the start, Bob began dabbling with different sounds to see how he could use them to enhance a joke or a gag. A comedian at heart, he was always ready with that one-liner or punchline to drive the joke home. One of his earliest gimmicks was his song rating system. Using the recording of a chicken cackling and eggs dropping down a shoot and into a pail, Bob "rated" various records. One plop, two plops, three plops....the more plops you heard, the worse the record. The sound of dripping water into a cup during a Borden's commercial conveyed that the milk was so fresh, Bessie the cow was being milked right there in the studio at that very moment. Bob's own mother got in on the act as well, lending her quite-contagious laugh for use in her son's skits.

Crane's efforts paid off. At WICC in Bridgeport, CT, he held 65% of the market share, while over at KNX in LA, he and KMPC competitor Dick Whittinghill duked it out for top spot with the SoCal audience.

Allstate Auto Insurance Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962