The best local news promo ever

This is a bit of a no-brainer.   Local news promos tend to have a one-note sense of urgency that reflects the thinking which drives the business nowadays:  Find out how this hidden killer may target your children — tomorrow at six!”

The promo is accompanied by a grave soundtrack, or the rat-a-tat rhythm mimicking the sound of a teletype, which remain a stylistic audio staple even though teletypes went the way of the rotary phone decades ago.

There are many, many good reasons, then, why this is the best local news promo ever.

The subject matter. Promo pixels tend to get hijacked by anchors and salacious content.  Promos about news photographers are very rare.

The Pythonesque music. Not just the tune, but the lyrics.  “Our coats are made of plastic / Our cables are elastic!” = priceless.

The video. Just watch.  The two photogs swerving in the car toward the camera is pretty awesome.  So is the photog supposedly dangling from the helicopter.  So is the grinning cop. So is the photog in bed with his camera.

The TK-76 cameras indicate the promo was made in the mid-80s.  (Writing that line, and thinking of the 3/4″ tape deck that accompanied it just produced a sharp twinge of phantom pain in my lower back).  NewsCenter 13 is WTHR Indianapolis.

WAGA created a photog promo in 1997.  It is spirited and interesting, but it lacks the madcap quality of its incomparable Hoosier forerunner.

Notice how Randy Travis hasn’t aged a day in the last twelve years.

I think these are called “institutional” promos, meaning they aren’t promoting a specific talent or upcoming story.

Such promos serve two purposes:  They tell the station’s story to an audience that, in all likelihood, is already quite familiar with it (but hasn’t yet seen the latest strokes-of-genius updating the brand).  And they kill time when there’s no revenue-delivering commercial cued up in the ol’ cart machine.  Or whatever passes for that gizmo these days.

Following Christmas, expect to see a lot of (updated versions of) promos like this vintage WAGA institutional.  Post-Christmas is typically a dry spell for TV advertising.  The local stations’ promotion departments are in overdrive right now, perfecting these little jewels.

And yeah, that’s yours truly interviewing the guy with the mullet.  Like I’ve got room to talk, haircut-wise….

H/T to Viewfinder Blues.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

12 thoughts on “The best local news promo ever

  1. Josh R.

    That first one was indeed hilarious. I wanted to do something similar for a radio talk show I used to work on, doing a promo for Bob Rose to the tune of that old Goldfish commercial:

    Here’s our
    Jingle for goldfish
    Our radio jingle for goldfish
    Close your eyes and try to think of crunchy little goldfish
    That is
    Unless you’re driving
    Oh yeah, now that reminds us…

    Et al.

    As for that last one, I think Brenda still does promos in the exact same voice.

  2. Jim

    Dang, Brenda looked good. She should get some bangs (her hair, get your mind out of the gutter) going again, or so my wife says.

  3. Randy Travis

    Back in the 80s my old station in Memphis wanted to promote the fact that we had Oprah and Phil Donahue on the same channel. Promotions decided to intercut scenes from each show to the tune of “Ebony and Ivory.” True story. Ask Brenda.

    This happened before I joined WMC, but the switchboard operator was still complaining about the calls she got.

    Now that’s a promo I wish I could find on You Tube.

  4. Jim

    Gotta say, I’m lovin the old promo’s, but nothing beats Les Nessman beating his chest so he sounds like he’s in the news copter:-)

    God I loved that show…even if they didn’t know how to cue up an LP

  5. Newman

    Don’t forget “People let me tell you ’bout my home in Georgia on a hot, summer night”.

    Tough to get that many bikinis in to a news promo……

  6. Element

    Good news days live or die with photographers. PERIOD! (except more) No one has more power to make or break a day for so many reasons. And no one is less appreciated or takes more sh!t in the newsroom (short of AE’s). It is a truly thankless job that is rarely commended yet often rebuked. I think it is cool to see the behind the scenes figures of the newsroom and I appreciate the effort of spots like this. But I wouldn’t stop there. There is no doubt that the “faces” of TV news do less than anyone to make the wheels turn but I digress. I applaud fun spots like these.

  7. arky

    I like the WSB promos (although that’s “hot SOUTHERN night,” not “summer”). They remind me of the famous WPVI intros of Philly. Although it’s kind of a strange conceit that Don and Monica just randomly walk the streets of downtown after dark.


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