'Family Snapshots' sound like the real thing Vignettes: The 90-second spots heard on WHFC-FM are, according to their creator, "sales pitches for being human."

On the Air

January 07, 1996|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

They're sometimes funny, sometimes corny, sometimes poignant and sometimes just plain irritating. Which may be the idea, given that they're designed to be little slices of a family's made-up life that remind you of the real thing.

They also frequently make you think, "Who told them about me?"

"Family Snapshots" are 90-second vignettes broadcast locally on WHFC-FM (91.1) out of Bel Air and written by Conrad Bishop of Philadelphia's Independent Eye, a theater ensemble that has been touring nationally since 1974.

In each piece, actors take on the parts of various family members: children, parents, grandparents. Subjects range from parents who tell their children one thing but practice something else (like the father who teaches his son about the "Walk/Don't Walk" signs, then crosses the street against the lights) to an elderly couple speculating on how they've lived together so long (not easily, one surmises from the spot).

"We don't have a particular ax to grind," says Mr. Bishop. "We're just using an audio mirror to provoke the response, 'Yes, that sounds familiar.' They're short and catchy as commercials, so we think of them as unabashed sales pitches for being human."

So far, 65 different "Snapshots" have been taped. Other examples include "Thank-You Note," in which mom presses her teen-age daughter to write a thank-you note to the aunt who just sent her a present; "Kenny's Birthday" has mom visiting her comatose son to help celebrate his birthday.

The quality of the spots is uneven. "Cat in Attic," about a woman stuck in an attic whose screams for help go unheard by her sleeping husband, is just plain irritating. But at their best, they do make you think, and maybe smile.

WQSR executive leaves

Happy trails to WQSR's long-time vice president and general manager, Brad Murray, who left the station Tuesday to become vice president of AM operations for its parent company, American Radio Systems, in Boston. Mr. Murray has been at WQSR since 1989, and was responsible for putting together the station's oldies format. And that's a good thing.

Stripping on CD-ROM

Can't get enough of Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara during their afternoon radio show on WJFK-AM (1300)? Help is here, provided you have a CD-ROM.

"The World of Don and Mike," trumpeted in press releases as the first interactive CD-ROM based on a radio show, takes players through a series of games and puzzles that, once solved, lead to the game's centerpiece, "Strip Trivia."

I think we can all guess what "Strip Trivia" is about.

The $39.95 CD-ROM is IBM and MAC compatible. Order by calling (800) 529-9900.

Lighten up, animal lovers

From the "These People Really Need to Lighten Up" Department: An animal protection group -- the California-based Ark Trust -- has awarded its first annual `Foe-Paw` awards to television shows that broadcast anti-animal messages.

Some of the awards -- and I'm not making this up -- were given to:

* "Coach" (ABC) -- Two huge desert tortoises are mistakenly "set free" in the ocean, where they drown.

* "Dave's World" (CBS) -- Dave's family eats their pet rabbit.

* "High Society" (CBS) -- Prolonged tasteless jokes abound when a dog accidentally dies when fed a chocolate treat.

* "The Nanny" (CBS) -- Fran inherits a fur coat and ignores the anti-fur pleas of her daughter.

* "NewsRadio" (NBC) -- The inhumane mass-killing of rats takes place at the station.

* "New York Undercover" (Fox) -- Pit bulls are stereotypically portrayed as killing machines.

* "Seinfeld" (NBC) -- Elaine, Kramer and Newman dognap a neighbor's barking dog, drive it to the country and dump it.

* "The Single Guy" (NBC) -- The death of someone's beloved cat is treated with humor and disrespect.

"Numerous prime-time shows this season have spouted negative animal messages, typically for cheap laughs, leading us to issue this end-of-year wrap-up," said Gretchen Wyler, president of the Ark Trust.

Huh?

I bow to no one in my respect for animal rights -- my wife will tell you how I cried watching a turtle get run over by a car. But let's be serious. Guys, it's just a joke! You'll notice that these are all -- except "New York Undercover" -- comedies. Comedies make fun of things. They don't promote people exercising their baser instincts on animals.

Condemning a show for killing a lot of rats? Please

Thank goodness the Ark Trust wasn't around a few years back, when "WKRP in Cincinnati" had a show where live turkeys were dropped from a helicopter as a Thanksgiving promotion ("As God is my witness," the station manager later lamented, "I thought turkeys could fly").

"Seinfeld" also made fun recently of a music conductor who demanded that everyone call him "maestro." I shudder to think what the Classical Music Anti-Defamation League is going to have to say about that.

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