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People Are Born without Earlids

The 1964 presidential campaign spurred one of the most influential TV ads in history. Known as the Daisy Ad, this spot aired only once but is still widely discussed in media circles as having changed the course of political advertisement. In it a little girl's counting of daisy petals transitions into a countdown to a nuclear blast.

Whether or not the commercial tipped the balance in Lyndon Johnson's favor over Barry Goldwater, we'll never know for certain. However, it certainly left an indelible mark on the psyches of Americans as to the danger of nuclear power. The creator of that commercial, Tony Schwartz, died yesterday.

Adman, agoraphobe, audio documentarian, and media thinker, Schwartz left perhaps an even bigger mark, if not as spectacular, in radio. Unlike many who predicted that video would kill the radio star, Schwartz was convinced that radio would live on because it connects with humans in a more visceral way.

He once said, as quoted in the New York Times:

The most important thing to realize is that people are born without earlids. So what determines what people hear or listen to? Very simply, they listen to anything that concerns or interests them.

I remember when I was looking for a mortgage, I heard every mortgage commercial. The day I got my mortgage, they stopped running them. I don't know how they knew.
This is so crucial to remember, especially now when true literacy no longer means just textual literacy, when the death of the recording industry doesn't mean the death of music, and when the struggle among multiple media for our attention doesn't mean the death of story and narrative art.

1 comment:

Without The H said...

"Listening to anything that concerns or interests them..."
That's the best defense of people following their interests, and especially a defense to why radio is still around. Thanks.