In the early 1980s, when Kendall Durfey and I were both students at Oral Roberts University, we produced a series of parody radio commercials which I (as campus film chairman) aired on the PA system prior to our campus movies in Howard Auditorium.
Many of them are dated or refer to things that only an ORU student from that time period would know about. But I present them here as a bit of nostalgia, especially for my friends from ORU.
Kendall was my best friend at college, and his father, the late Dr. Thomas Durfey, was my academic advisor. For a year after college, while I was waiting for two of my other professors to hire me for their film production company, Kendall and I roomed together while working at the Durfey family’s radio station in Wagoner, Oklahoma.
Kendall eventually went to work for Oklahoma State University, where he produced educational videos and was a broadcast engineer for the radio broadcasts of OSU sporting events. It was that latter role, with the athletic department, that had him on a small plane in January, 2001, returning from a basketball game in Colorado with athletes and athletic department personnel. The plane crashed, killing the two pilots and all eight passengers, including Kendall.
Somewhere along the way, I had misplaced my tape of these spots. In the wake of Kendall’s death, I heard from Jeff Dunn, who had a dub and was kind enough to make me a new copy.
It is in memory of Kendall, my friend and co-conspirator, that I share these pieces with you. They are not in any particular order.
I have forgotten the origin of the name “Herb Zimmerman,” Kendall’s alter ego in several of the spots.
- Negative Thinking Rally
- Obesity Training. ORU, as part of its concept of the “whole man,” required students to take a phys ed course each semester, to be tested for body fat and pass an aerobic field test.
- The Seminar Guests. Twice a year, over a holiday weekend when some of the students from close to Tulsa would go home, ORU would have weekend events at which high school students would stay in the dorms, and presumably be sold on the benefits of an ORU education.
- Return of the Seminargeist. This was a sequel to the previous spot, but with references to the then-current movie “Poltergeist.”
- In Search of the Mystery Meat. I guess it’s universal for college students to complain about cafeteria food. Food Service at ORU was provided by a company called Saga Food Services, and the joke on campus was that “Saga” was an acronym for Soviet Attempt to Gag America.
- Revenge of the DAIRS. DAIRS, which originally stood for Dial Access Information Retrieval System, was a system of pre-recorded, closed-circuit TV lectures or documentaries which could be accessed from dorm rooms (or the library, if for some reason both you and your roommate lacked a TV set). The biggest use of the system while I was at ORU was for the Francis Schaeffer documentary series “How Shall We Then Live?”, a required part of ORU’s humanities curriculum, and for a religion class which the university’s founder and namesake had taught years earlier. The name DAIRS was actually a carryover from an earlier, audio-based system.
- Underwater Basket Weaving. “Lake Evelyn,” named for Oral Roberts’ wife, was a pond on campus. Swimming or jumping into the pond was an automatic $50 fine.
- What the Devil’s Wrong With Easy Listening Music?. At the time, some lecturers had just visited Tulsa with some of that claptrap about backward masking and subliminal messages in rock and roll music. It infuriated me.
- Fail Safe Pills
- Dirty Harry in ‘Whole Man Force’
- Z.T. The Zimmer-Terrestrial