Bulletin: Coffee is bad for you. Wait, no, Coffee is quite good for you.

Surprise! – Chocolate is good for you. No, wait, Chocolate is actually bad for you.

Healthcare advice has become a toxic brew of contradictions lapping over the edge of a 50 gallon conundrum. No sooner does a wave of “expert advice” hit the web, then you’re slammed with e-mail after e-mail of Ph*rmXy Wund#r Cyurz. Delete. Delete. Delete. A week later, 60 Minutes debunks the whole thing. It’s enough to make you want to pour a “healthy” glass of red wine just to endure it all (…until research proves otherwise.)

Further complicating the health care issue for many is the high cost of access to personal health insurance. Ever suffered a COBRA bite? (a perfect acronym), you know what I’m talking about.

Good news is, at least when it comes to costs, UnitedHealthcare is making a serious effort to change it with an innovative health insurance program called, Belay.

Parachute Design, a Minneapolis design firm that works with UnitedHealthcare, enlisted local writer Brad Gilmore and his team to help create the buzz for this radical concept. Part of the hype included the creation of a few radio spots for which we here at Babble-On Recording did the sound design, while independent producer/writer/voice-talent/ferociously funny ad-libber Lynda Crotty managed the duties of producer.
(L to R) Writer Brad Gilmore “Chillaxes”. Brad and Lynda review the script. Lynda getting the final edits done.

In Brad’s words… “This was a from-scratch project. UnitedHealthcare gave us the magic words every team loves to hear: “Show us what you got. It’d better be good. And by the way, we’re launching in two months… We came up with a word used by rock climbers: Belay…(T)o back it up we spent a week blowing out the creative to demonstrate how the name would evolve into a concept our audience would respond to… Before we could even present our work we were issued three definitive words: “No. No. No.” Nonetheless we (boldly) proceeded to present… Fifteen minutes later, we were issued three new definitive words: “Yes. Yes. Yes.” Fifteen minutes after that, our media budget had been increased… IT WAS MAGIC.”

The radio spots revolve around the idea of two rock climbers, one a novice, facing a fairly intimidating climb. The trick to getting the sound-design right was finding a way to create the illusion of space between the climbers; one near, the other far – not a huge gap, but roughly 15 feet. Well, put two guys in a typical sound booth bellowing at each other and you realize…it ain’t gonna happen easily – the room size becomes apparent. So, we tricked out a couple of larger rooms we have here and placed Minneapolis voice-over talent Dan Armstrong in one of them and Patrick Coyle in the other with a couple of Sennheiser 416 shotgun mics. We adjusted their distance accordingly and hit record…TalentBlend3
Minneapolis voice-over talents Dan Armstrong and Pat Coyle scaled the heights of our fictional Canyon Suite.

The amount of “air” this produced was dramatic – all that was needed to fill out the scene was a touch of reverb, some subtle foley work and an underlying canyon wind. Lynda, who’s “an admitted perfectionist” offered… “It was one of those rare occasions when the planets aligned and everything came together seamlessly. First of all, Brad Gilmore, a consummate pro, truly wanted the spots to be the best they could be and was excited by any and all input. Refreshing. …I usually prefer the script to the finished spot. For some reason, whatever shape the words take when committed to tape usually leaves me feeling a little underwhelmed. Not true in the case of (these) spots.

Here are the spots, “On Belay” and “Belay On”.

Dan Armstrong and Pat Coyle, our Minneapolis voice-over talent for these radio spots, can both be booked through The Wehmann Agency. Our announcer, the honey-toned Tracey Maloney is also represented by The Wehmann Agency.