“Walt Jaschek and His Basement Humor”: St. Louis Business Journal article, 1991

Clippings, Flashbacks, Press Coverage, Process

Basement office ? Check. VHS tapes stacked and labeled? Check. Mac SE powered up? Check. White turtleneck with sleeves rolled up? Check. Let’s write!

Article By Patricia Miller, from The St. Louis Business Journal, Jan. 28. 1991:

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(Special shout-out to Paul Fey of World Wide Wadio, whose friendship, guidance, and steady flow of interesting assignments made this stuff possible. He was already living and working in L.A. at the time, as the article says. Want to hear some of the work we did together? Some funny radio spots are here in my portfolio. A whole, whole lot more are on Wadio’s radio page.)

And here’s the article in bigger type in case you’re reading it on your phone:

Walt Jaschek and his basement humor

by Patricia Miller

What strikes Walt Jaschek as funny in his southside basement often ends up on national radio.

Jaschek, 35, writer radio advertising, including national radio campaigns promoting CBS Television Network and Warner Brothers programs. His firm, [WaltWords], is based in the basement of his home on Columbia Avenue.

“I figure that if it makes me laugh here in the basement, it probably works,” Jaschek said.

No only does it work, but it has also earned the St. Louis native local, regional and national attention and an number of Clio and Addy advertising awards, which line the steps of the walls leading to his basement.

“We create mind movies,” Jaschek said. “With radio, the audience is already there — you just supply the visuals.”

Larry and LaVerne, the couple addicted to the Jeopardy game show, are Jaschek’s creation. Jaschek developed the characters as pat of a story lien to promote the CBS game show for radio. (A third character, “Trebecka,” is in the making, Jaschek hinted.)

In another radio spot for the game show, Jaschek describes how “darn hard” it is to win at Jeopardy. 

“I mean these categories! ‘Civil War Snack Foods!’ Famous Gynecologists! Medieval Flossing Techniques!’…”

Jaschek’s link to “Hollywood” is his college buddy, Paul Fey, a St. Louis native who at one time worked for KMOX-TV and is a producer in Los Angeles. They have collaborated on advertising projects since Jaschek “took the plunge off the 38th floor” of Southwestern Bell Corp. (where he was advertising manager) into freelancing in 1988.

The two University of Missouri-St. Luis grads are formalizing their informal business relationship this month under the name of Paul & Walt Worldwide, according to Jaschek, who said they work well together  since they share “an inclination toward audio humor.”

“We brainstorm together,” Fey said. “But the way it has evolved, Walt does the lion’s share of the writing and while his is writing I’m producing the last spot he wrote.”

The two partners have completed hundreds or radio spots over the past two years, by way of phone, fax and modem, according to Fey. He declined to disclose the their revenues, but said a typical CBS Network radio spots runs about $9000 to $10,000 from concept to completion.

In some of those spots, Jaschek wrote scripts for the TV actors to promote their own programs, which has inspired him to do do bigger projects.

“Since I’ve done a one-minute script for the Golden Girls, I believe I can multiply that by 22 minutes,” he said. “I’d like to transition from promoting the project to doing own product, namely a TV sitcom.”

Jaschek’s resumes includes public service announcements for the American Optometric Association and the city of St. Lous Operation Brightside, as well as comic strips for Marvel Comics and his own original comic strip, Dang Gnats!

His resume also includes a theme song for the state of Missouri which he developed for Kenrick Advertising. Jaschek set the song to a country and western theme calling on tourists to “relax and refresh” in Missouri enabling him to let loose the frustrated country western songwriter in himself, he said.

The theme song and other single market humor are often much more difficult than writing national humor, according to Jaschek, who counts as his early models Monty Python, the early Second City / Saturday Night Live crew, Warner Brothers cartoons and the early Mad magazine.

“It’s a challenge to write something that is funny in Seattle, Miami, New York and Los Angeles, but single market humor is harder — you really have to know the market.

Jaschek descends into his office at about 8:30 every morning Monday through Friday. Mornings are typically spent on logistics, and always include at least one phone call to Fey in Los Angeles.

The answering machine is turned on in the afternoon during which time Jaschek “hibernates” while he goes on an “intense writing blitz to meet the daily 5 p.m. script deadlines. He then picks the pace back up again from 9 p.m. to midnight, working on the next day’s assignment or other freelance.

— End Story, January 28, 1991

Walt Jaschek wishes social media had been around when he was interesting.

 

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