Of all of our programming, the show that probably gets the most attention would have to be the Grocery Ads. It’s a simple concept: since we are a reading radio service for the blind, and since just about everybody has to buy groceries, we provide a detailed reading of the specials and prices on groceries so that our listeners can make informed choices about what they might be hungry for this week and how much that is going to cost. The trick has always been how to keep this service from sounding like a tedious recitation of a list of food items and which store has the slight advantage on price–which is why we bent the rules a bit and decided to let the designated grocery readers show a little more personality, so to speak. This has turned out to be a wonderful marketing (no pun intended!) move for WRBH, since the Grocery Ads have brought in more listeners and enticed more people to volunteer than almost any of our other programs combined.
When I first began working here in September 1998, Sam Kranzthor was the regular Grocery Ads reader. Wiry, heavily tattooed and ponytailed, gravelly voiced Sam’s cheerful rendition of the hour long program was always tinged with amusement and genuine interest in what was available that week. If pears were on sale, he recommended pushing the stem end lightly with your thumb to test ripeness: if it caved somewhat, the pear was ready to eat. He also advised inhaling the aroma of the circle at the bottom of a cantaloupe–if you smelled nothing or a just a light whiff of cantaloupe perfume, pass it up. You needed a strong, fruity fragrance that guaranteed the juicy sweetness within. And don’t thump them, he warned. “Thumping only works on watermelons,” he proclaimed.
Occasionally, Sam would bring in his dog, a rat terrier he had found abandoned in a barn. We don’t normally encourage readers to bring in their pets, but Sam’s dog was quiet and well behaved in the studio, and none of our listeners could ever tell there was a small black bat eared guard dog at his feet. Unfortunately, the dog (I’m afraid I don’t recall his name) loved Sam and only Sam, and viewed the staff of the station as threats to his safety and well being. We had to be careful not to look into his fierce, glassy eyes at any time, or his top lip would curl back in an enraged snarl of fury, and he would lunge for our throats. We gently suggested that perhaps wee Cujo would be better off at home, but Sam would just chuckle and scoop him up, and the previously rabid dog would begin kissing and nuzzling Sam’s neck and face while making sweet whining noises of slavish devotion. “See,” Sam said proudly between the licks, “he’s really a sweetheart.”
That’s all for today. Stay tuned for part two– how the Ads have changed through the years.