One-Minute Jesters Court Laughs and Listeners

Awards and Recognition, News, Press Coverage

This Los Angeles Radio Guide article about funny radio commercials from 1994 describes how Paul & Walt Worldwide and others are “eliciting guffaws” for radio listeners and “inspiring them not to change the station.”

Article transcribed from Los Angeles Radio Guide, 1994

BY COLLEEN GIBBS

Unlike most professionals in the broadcast business, radio ad writers hope that their listeners have a short attention span. They’re not after the patient symphony aficionado, the opera buff or the die hard fan of “In-A-Gadda-da-Vidda.” Ad creators crave a different type of audience.

“Just give me 60 seconds, and I will try to make you laugh,” says Paul Fey of Paul & Walt Worldwide.

Fey wants more than anything to surprise and delight listeners, eliciting a guffaw, a mirthful nod of recognition, and most significantly, inspiring them not to change the station during the commercial break.

Fey is one of the wits behind those clever radio ads.

“For 60 seconds at a time, I want to bring radio into the foreground of listeners; consciousness. In fact, I want people to laugh out loud and say, ‘Hey, did you hear that?'”

Fey’s elaborate ads are certainly the attention-getting type. As one half of the production company Paul & Walt Worldwide, which he operates with partner Walt Jaschek, Fey is one of the guilty pranksters behind memorable spots for Miller Genuine Draft, Southwestern Bell Mobile System, GM Parts and Bud Light.

In a spot for Bud, the listener is sucked into the mind of a narrator who describes his eerie, Twlight-Zone-type surroundings.

“I was in a room with curved walls and only a dim light at the top,” the ad begins, accompanied by cavernous sound effects. After 55 seconds of dramatic depiction, the listener realizes the narrator is a Bud Light beer.

In addition to grabbing attention, Paul & Walt’s ad earned a lion’s share of industry awards – nearly 400 of them, including five Ollies (the Oscars of the ad world.) Fey calls this success “world-class advertising” and defines it as commercials on par with the very best radio comedy or drama.

Fey’s criteria for great radio is high. He grew up with his ear glued to the stereo, devouring and digesting thousands of hours of Monty Python skits. This influence is apparent in the hyperbolically silly but highly polished spots that evoke preposterous visual tableaux.

“Like really great radio, a great ad succeeds despite the fact that you can’t fall back on a visual, as with TV,” he said. “In fact, really great ads are great because your mind is able to fill in and make a mental picture many times more vivid than an actual one.”

For Paul & Walt, world-class radio ads consist of equal measures of timing and talent, liberally sprinkled with a daredevil willingness to boldly go where no ad has gone before.

For their radio promotional spots for Fox’s “Star Trek: the Next Generation,” the team regularly poked reckless, wicked fun at Captain Jean-Luc Picards’s stalwart, dignified character. One ad called “We’re Shaving Our Heads” features zesty testimonials from “Star Trek” fans who are happily shaving their heads in a fit of zeal over the show’s syndicated run.

Fey embraces self-deprecating humor in his projects, as well. Some of the ads even ridicule the business of advertising.

For 20th Television, a spot for “Doogie Howser, M.D.” launches straight into a rousing, big-band number, with Andrews Sisters wannabes sining about the new dance craze, the Doogie Boogie Woogie. An earnest voice-over apologizes for the elaborate musical ruse, but there is really no new dance craze, only desperate writers who couldn’t find anything else to rhyme with Doogie.

“It’s hip to be able to laugh at yourself,” Fey said. “It demonstrates that you are confident enough to point out weaknesses. If I have the freedom to allow the consumer to have foibles, so much the better.”

Sometimes, Fey admits, world-class raw material is quite literally written all over the product.

“The Simpsons” provided Paul & Walt with one of their most memorable spots, fashioned after a classical poetry reading. It featured the resonant, velvet voice of Robert Goulet reciting the blackboard writing of young Bart Simpson.

“I will not trade pants with others,” Goulet intones. “I will not eat things for money. I will not Xerox my butt.”

The list goes on, over a background of chamber music, finishing with, “I will not call the principal Spud-Head.”

Los Angeles Radio Guide, December, 1994

Funny, Award-Winning Radio Commercials: A Paul & Walt Playlist

Paul Fey, Playlist, Walt Jaschek

A partial playlist, actually. Here are five, funny, award-winning radio commercials, a few representative samples of literally thousands written and produced by Paul & Walt Worldwide. Enjoy.

“Laugh Catalog” | Funny Radio Commercial for George Schlatter’s Comedy Club

Our first Clio Award winner, for Best Use of Sound. Winner of LOTS more awards, too. Created for our good friend and long-time client Mike Mischler and King World, for the brand new and short-lived syndicated show, “George Schlatter’s Comedy Club.”
Written by Paul Fey & Walt Jaschek. Produced and Directed by Paul Fey, Engineered by Bill Schulenburg. VO Talent: Peter Jones, Steve Susskind, Bobbi Block, Susan Tolsky, Bill Martin. FUN FACTS: Paul was a huge fan of the BBC Radio production of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and hunted down Peter Jones, the voice of “The Book” in that legendary series. Via a 3am telephone session from Paul’s hotel room at the Mondrian, he directed Peter in a London studio. Our “laughers” were chosen from dozens and dozens of auditions submitted by multiple LA talent agencies.

“Missing Persons” | Funny radio commercial for WCBS-TV and Matlock

One of our biggest award winners from the early 90’s. Created for WCBS-TV, and our great client and friend, David LaFountaine. Written by Walt Jaschek, Produced and directed by Paul Fey. VO Talent: Harvey Atkin, Tom Poston, Orson Bean. FUN FACT: Despite the great rhythm of this dialogue, none of the talent read with each other. Tom Poston missed the session due to a golf date with the king of Morocco (no kidding!) — and we had to record him separately and edit the dialogue together later. Harvey Atkin was recorded remotely from a studio in Toronto… and Orson Bean as the VO was recorded later in Hollywood.

 

“Robert Goulet” | Funny radio commercial for The Simpsons

One of our biggest award winners, including the $20,000 Radio Mercury Award for Best Comedy Spot in 1995. Created for our good friend and client, David LaFountaine at Twentieth Television, and the huge syndicated launch of The Simpsons. Writer: Walt Jaschek. Producer/Director: Paul Fey. VO Talent: Christina Belford, Robert Goulet. FUN FACTS: Walt originally wrote a script based on the idea of using the voice of James Earl Jones reading Bart Simpson’s blackboard writings. When it appeared James Earl Jones would be too expensive, Paul began exploring alternative celebrity voice ideas (including Kelsey Grammer, among others) — and finally, with the help of Elaine Craig Voice Casting, hit upon and made a deal with Robert Goulet. The rough production script included a list of dozens of Bart’s blackboard writings. Paul’s plans were to record all the lines, and decide later which ones worked best. He directed Robert Goulet over the phone from a studio in Las Vegas, where Goulet was performing at the time. Surprisingly, after many hours of postproduction, the spot simply wasn’t working — and was shaping up to be an expensive disaster. After dozens of unsuccessful edit attempts to make it sound funny… Paul tried adding various music tracks, which started improving the spot rapidly. The order of Goulet’s lines were ultimately completely swapped around to fit the final, classical track — which ultimately sounded as though it had been written for the spot.

“The Ballad of Judge Wapner” | Funny radio commercial for King World and The People’s Court

One of our biggest award winners from the early 90’s. Written by Walt Jaschek, produced and directed by Paul Fey, with music production by Matthews Griffith Music. VO Talent: Lance LeGault, Gene McGarr. FUN FACT: While we always enjoyed working with the late Lance LeGault, and loved his deep, western voice… we didn’t find out until the session that he had no sense of rhythm. His performance here was created with literally dozens of edits — practically every word and phrase was moved to fit the rhythm.

“Cellular Guy” | Funny radio commercial for Southwestern Bell

Part of a large, award-winning campaign we did for Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems and Simmons Durham Advertising. Writer: Walt Jaschek, Producer/Director: Paul Fey
VO Talent: Harvey Atkin, Townsend Coleman

Hear more Paul & Walt funny radio commercials on this Soundcloud playlist.

Paul & Walt home | Paul Fey bio | Walt Jaschek bio

Paul Fey & Walt Jaschek Inducted into St. Louis Media Hall of Fame

Awards and Recognition, News, Paul Fey, St. Louis Media Hall of Fame, Walt Jaschek

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Paul Fey (left) and Walt Jaschek of Paul & Walt Worldwide at agency launch in 1991.

Paul Fey and Walt Jaschek, writers and producers of creative, award-winning national radio campaigns, were inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame on March 17, 2018.

The St. Louis Media History Foundation inducted 20 other individuals into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame that night, as well. More than 200 people attended a downtown gala at which the honors were bestowed. 

Individually and together, Paul and Walt have reputations for creating high-impact, industry-admired advertising campaigns. They teamed up in 1991 to create Paul & Walt Worldwide, the radio commercial boutique agency and production company, and their work quickly won CLIOS, ADDYs and many other awards for national brands. Paul served as Paul & Walt Worldwide President; Walt served as Executive Creative Director. The agency had offices in Hollywood, California and St. Louis. Here they are in front of just a few of their industry awards.

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Paul is now President and Chief Creative Officer of World Wide Wadio in Hollywood.  Walt is now writing comedy and comics at Walt Now Entertainment. Both men are St. Louis natives and continue to collaborate frequently.

See Paul Fey’s profile in the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame.

See Walt Jaschek’s profile in the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame.

 

Paul Fey: Bio for Paul & Walt Worldwide

Bio, Paul Fey

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Paul Fey got a tape recorder from his grandfather on his twelfth birthday. The first thing he recorded was the musical open for a brand new CBS comedy called Good Morning World off the family TV.  The next thing he recorded was a series of comic parodies of popular TV commercials that he wrote and performed. 

Now, 25 years later, he and his partner Walt Jaschek make funny radio commercials. And one of their biggest clients in none other than CBS Television, for whom Paul & Walt Worldwide create award-winning spots to promote CBS comedies.

A fan of funny commercials and audio humor throughout his life, Paul spent, in his own words, “way too many hours in my formative years” watching TV and listening to comedy albums. Throughout grade school and junior high school, he continued to experiment with creating his own funny programs and commercials on tape.

By the 1970s, in high school, he was listening to Woody Allen and Monty Python and also became aware of Dic & Bert, who were winning CLIO Awards by making the best funny radio commercials of that time. Intrigued, he sent a minor goal: among whatever else he was to achieve, to someday win a CLIO.

Haven chosen advertising as a career path, Paul was a pre-journalism major at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he became fast friends with Walt Jaschek, an “incredibly talented and energetic writer,” who always seemed to be working on a dozen exciting projects. Deciding to specifically pursue broadcast advertising rather than print, Paul moved his studies to Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, where he graduated first in his class with a B.A. in Television/Radio.

Through the university, he landed an internship and, within two days, a job as a writer-producer-account executive and media buyer for a small advertising agency in St. Louis. Within a week, he was named Vice-President of the agency, and began producing and buying the nation media for a funny radio campaign for The Athlete’s Foot apparel chain, as well as one for Nike.

Finally given the chance to do it for real, he became hooked on creating funny radio commercials. His only frustration was that in this, and a subsequent job with a medium-sized St. Louis agency, the opportunity to work on these spots didn’t come along often enough. When a job was offered to him at KMOC-TV, the CBS-owned television stations in St. Louis, Paul had never even heard of broadcast promotion. Upon learning he would have the opportunity to work for CBS and write and produce dozens of TV and radio spots every month, he jumped at the chance. Creating literally hundreds of spots over the next few years, he began winning local, national and international advertising awards for his work.

Turning down job offers to take his same position in New York and Lose Angeles, he worked toward a larger goal: going into business for himself. In 1985, he left KMOX-TV to form Paul Fey Creative Services, based in St. Louis. Within a year, he secured all five CBS-owned television stations as his clients.

In mid-1987, Paul Fey Creative Services moved to Hollywood. Business exploded quickly and he called on his old friend Walt to help with the writing. Over the next year, as the business grew and the workload continued to increase, Walt left his job as Creative Director of a St. Lous agency and began writing full-time.

In 1988, Paul Fey and Walt Jaschek were awarded their first CLIO for “Best Used of Sound.” A few years and hundreds of awards later, they formalized their partnership, operating as Paul & Walt Worldwide.

Paul & Walt Worldwide, now World Wide Wadio, is an innovative radio production company headquartered in Hollywood, California, and has become one of the preeminent suppliers of creative radio in the country. Their clients include the CBS Television Network, Twentieth Television, Warner Bros. Television, King World, Bud Light, Budweiser Ice Draft, Michelob Golden, FTD Florists, Cadillac, Lincoln Mercury, GM Parts and Southwestern Bell. 

Paul & Walt home | About Paul & Walt | Paul & Walt Radio Playlist

 

Walt Jaschek: Bio for Paul & Walt Worldwide

Bio, Walt Jaschek

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Two prophetic things happened to Walt Jaschek at the University of Missouri – St. Lous in the early 1970s. First, he met and became friends with Paul Fey, who, like Jaschek, served as editor the college newspaper, The Current. (See a story about that.) “We shared passions for media and marketing, and daydreamed about someday going into business together,” Jaschek says.

Second, he received a degree in Speech Communications. “At the time, I was set on becoming writer for print, and didn’t really think my career would have anything to do with my degree in a literal sense.”

After stint in corporate PR for Southwestern Bell Telecom, Walt realized his love of comedy and broadcast media was better suited for the world of advertising, which treasured humorous commercials that could stand out and sell products. He became creative director for advertising agencies in Colorado and his native St. Louis.

In 1988, Jaschek launched his own full-time freelance writing business, which led, through frequent collaborations with producer Paul Fey, to the formation of Paul & Walt three years later.

In 1991, after separate successful career tracks, Jaschek and Fey teamed up as Paul & Walt Worldwide, a company specializing in funny radio commercials. “Amazing!,” says Jaschek. “Paul and I get to work together on a daily basis — and I have actually have a job that involves speech communications.”

Jaschek is partner and head writer of the firm, scripting many of its campaigns and participating in its marketing and development. As the company’s awards stack up, Walt is most proud of a CLIO Award for “Best Radio Copywriting.” It went to the agency’s spot “Missing Persons” for WCIX-TV.

Though he lives in St. Louis, Jaschek “commutes” to the company’s Los Angeles headquarters via phone, email, and sometimes plane. His scripts are now included in advertising copywriting textbooks, and he is an adjunct professor of advertising at Webster University in St. Louis.

Regarding the mission of Paul & Walt Worldwide, Jaschek says:

“We position ourselves as the next generation of radio specialists, picking up the mantle from those creators who inspired us in our college days,” Jaschek says. “We are trying to keep the tradition of great radio alive and take it places it’s never been before.”

In his spare time, Walt writes copy, content and comics at WaltNow.com, where he declares himself “Director of Fun.” Fun: it’s a running theme for Paul and Walt. Since those college days and beyond.

Walt’s latest project: Attorneys in Space!™

Paul & Walt Worldwide home | About | News | Contact

 

“Behind Radio’s Zany Commercials”: Article on Paul & Walt Worldwide From Radio World

News, Paul Fey, Walt Jaschek

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This article by Dee McVicker appeared in Radio World®, Vol. 17, No. 23, December 8, 1993.

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Behind Radio’s Zany Commercials

by Dee McVicker

LOS ANGELES  

It has been said that a radio station is only as good as its commercials. That axiom has served Paul Fey and Walt Jaschek well.

Widely acclaimed for their sharp sense of humor, the team is nationally recognized as the creative genius behind a number of radio spots promoting the seasonal lineup of shows for TV networks.

Their client list includes King World, Warner Brothers Television, 20th Century Television and CBS Television Network. 

“If a commercial is boring and doesn’t hold their attention, we can’t blame them if they reach up and hit the button on the car radio,” said Paul Fey, founding partner of Paul & Walt Worldwide. “We want to stop them in their tracks.”

Fey and Jaschek have been on the laugh track since high school, winning some 400 awards for excellence in commercial production, including three Clios and two regional Emmys. The team walked award with the five Ollies in one evening, setting a record for the most awards won by one company in the Hollywood Radio & Television Society’s annual presentation.

One Ollie was presented for a Paul & Walt commercial, “Auditions,” in which Patrick Stewart is among the voices trying out for the part of Jean Luc Picard in “Star Trek.”

Of all the awards (which stream in at a rate of 50 a year), Fey is most partial to the team’s first Clio. Fey aspired to win a Clio since his high school years, and recalls vividly the magic feeling of creating the spot.

It was a radio ad featuring a “catalog” of types of laughter. “The whole spot was kind of invented on Walt’s front porch. It just sort of came out… It wrote itself,” he said.

What keeps this team on the leading edge? “We never want to get satisfied with doing the same thing,” Fey said, pointing out that too many comedy teams rely on formulaic humor.

“Once upon a time, and it wasn’t that long ago, funny dialogue radio spots were what broke through the clutter. Now, I feel that funny dialogue spots are becoming the clutter, because there is so much of it out there,” Fey said.

Radio in particular lends itself to production-oriented spots, where a hybrid of audio effects, humor and dialogue work together. “It’s much easier to do a gigantic-scale production on radio because a lot of it is letting people’s minds fill it in,” he said.

A recent Paul & Walt commercial for a cellular telephone carrier, for example, camped up the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” with a polka beat accompanied by amusing dialogue, delivered in a deadpan voice:

“I get around, so I signed up for voice mail. I used to leery about sending voice mail. I wasn’t sure if I was putting enough stamps on it.”

As the music cut in and out abruptly, the deadpan voice again speaks up:

“Voice mail is easy. Think of it as rolling up a yellow sticky-note, jamming it into your cellular phone, and having it pop out somewhere else.”

Life begins for a Paul & Walt spot with an idea, either dreamed up by Fey, the production genius of the team, or Jaschek, the primary writer. Fey works from the Paul & Walt Worldwide office in Los Angeles, while Jaschek works from his office in St. Louis, the city where they both grew up.

They communicate through faxes and computer modems to tighten ideas, copy and production of radio ads.

The spot takes life in the imagination long before it is committed to tape. “It’s no exaggeration for me to say that I know exactly what a spot sounds like before it’s recorded,” Fey said. “The key is trying to put on tape what’s in my head.”

Paul & Walt fleshes out the characters, relying on a pool of creative talent from an audio studio in the same building as its Los Angeles office.

“People get accustomed to thinking of radio in a certain way,” said Fey, who claims the company owes its success to breaking those conventions. The plan for the future is to continue carving out new niches in radio commercials.

Paul & Walt Worldwide is now working on a project that Fey hopes will set a new milestone in how people perceive radio. He was mum about who the client is and the product, saying only that he is not bound to the conventions of 30 or 60 seconds for the spots.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do with radio,” he said.

Update, 2019: Paul currently runs World Wide Wadio in Hollywood. Walt runs Walt Now Entertainment in St. Louis. They both continue to collaborate on… radio.