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I Miss You Already, Stan

Mourning Stan Freberg

Paul McLane is editor in chief of Radio World.

“You… put our national bird … in the oven?”

That’s a never-fail punch line for the McLane siblings, who grew up wearing deep grooves in our LP copy of Stan Freberg’s “History of the United States (Vol. 1, The Early Years).”

Freberg died yesterday, according to news reports. NPR headlined its story by calling him a “genius of American advertising.” The network can be forgiven for trying to describe Freberg in a headline so narrowly. A Wikipedia entry gets closer to right, calling him an “American author, recording artist, animation voice actor, comedian, radio personality, puppeteer and advertising creative director, whose career began in 1944.”

He made brilliant use of audio effects, character voices and his own brilliant comic timing to create fabulous stories. He worked in radio but no one has ever parodied the conventions of radio advertising better; to this day I can’t bear ostentation in broadcasting, in part because Freberg had already punctured it so well when I was a child.

Freberg is a personal icon to me, and I pause during an intense work week to acknowledge his passing, to say thanks for bringing much laughter into my home.