Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on August 17, 1975 · 140
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · 140

Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 17, 1975
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J-L People, places, things we thought you'd like to know about Places Once inside the amusement area, there is no escaping its presence. The framework dominates the scene, looking like the Alaska pipeline gone berserk. The roller coaster climbs 70 feet, then pitches downward. At the valley, it twists into a pair of corkscrew turns, each of which spins the cars 360 degrees. This is the Chicago Loop, undisputed star of Old Chicago, the all-enclosed shopping center and amusement park that opened recently in Bolingbrook. "How about the ferris wheel? Or maybe a game of Skee-Ball?" I asked feebly as I was tugged toward the monster ride. There was more pity than disappointment in the 14-y ear-old's eyes when she said, "Don't think you can handle it, huh?" "Show a little guts, will you, Dad?" the 12-year-old whispered fiercely. People The hip young ad-agency producers will tell you: There is no one in Chicago better than Mike King at the specialized craft of making radio commercials. To use King's skills in blending voices, music, and sound effects, advertising agencies pay $42 an hour and make their reservations well in advance. King is in charge of a studio on the 20th floor of the Prudential Building. There he orchestrates commercials from his "board" an electronic console with a control panel governing 16 sound tracks. "I can make four singers sound like a choir," he says matter-of-factty. The board and accompanying electronic hardware were designed and installed at a cost of $125,000. The gear is far more sophisticated than that on which King honed his talents in the late '50s and early '60s, when he worked for radio stations in Cleveland and at WCFL in Chicago. "I did much of the engineering for Dick Orkin's Chickenman comedy series," he recalls. "When the character was supposed to be in a cave, I would record Orkin with a wastebasket over his head. Now I have a machine that does 6 "Listen," I snarled, "I used to ride these things like I owned them." "Then why," asked the 14-year-old, "are your knees shaking?" It was useless trying to explain how, at 36, the nerves begin to go. My chief hope was that the stomach would not follow suit The cars are painted bright acrylic yellow. A padded metal ring shaped like a horse collar is locked over the head and shoulders of each victim, preventing a last-instant escape. The cars began the slow ride to the crest, where the Chicago Loop banks sharply to the right before the big fall. I'd equate the drop with the effects of three fast martinis: The eyes bulge, the mouth goes agape, the head whirls. There is little time to dwell on any of that, however. The car snaps out of the valley, whips thru the double corkscrew ' ' - -.. - - ........ j.... - n - Mike King dealing with electronics and fragile egos. nothing but make echoes it cost $3,500." Before a recording session begins, King asks the actors the "talent," in agency argot to read a line of the script. This allows him to adjust the recording level so the voice isn't too strong. The advertising-agency producer then directs the talent thru several "takes" of the commercial. Both the producer and King offer suggestions on the reading. When an actor misinterprets, it sometimes requires delicate directing to set him straight. "You're often dealing with fragile egos," King says. Worse than temperamental ac T The Chicago Loop up and quite literally standing you on your head, even as your stomach fights to climb into the seat behind you then screeches to a halt. It had taken a minute and ten seconds, at a cost, in terms of psychic wear, of five years or so. tors, however, is the agency producer who insists on using every minute of the hour contracted for whether it's needed or not. "I've done a few sessions where we've done 40 takes of a commercial then gone back and used the third one." The toughest part of King's job begins after the spot is recorded. He may assemble the finished commercial from several different takes, choosing a sentence or phrase from each. Slurred words and awkward pauses vanish as King makes deft slashes thru recording tape with a razor blade. Music swells and voices fade as he juggles the f ; around and upside down. "Let's do it again!" the 12-year-old and the 14-year-old screeched. "I'm gonna play Skee-Ball," I said. Old Chicago Amusement Park, 1-55 (Stevenson Expressway) and III. Hwy. 53. Hours 11 a.m. -10 p.m. Sunday thru various elements. King plays the completed commercial back first thru huge, resonant speakers -overhead, then thru a tiny speaker that mimics the sound of a pocket radio. The job is completed when the playbacks pass the ear of both King and the producer. Part of the satisfaction, however, may come months later. "I might be vacationing in California and hear Burgess Meredith doing a United Airlines spot. The images are right and the production is sharp, and I know I put it together. That's a very nice feeling." LB. John taM r i i ChartM Osgood Thursday; 'til midnight Friday and Saturday. Admission for unlimited rides: Adults $5, children (ages 4 thru 11) $4. General admission $1 for adults, 50 cents for children, with rides priced from 20 to 80 cents. Les Bridges Books Ferne Kadish and Kathleen Kirtland drop names as fast as cash in their guide to where and how you can spend big money in today's London. Michael Caine is a special favorite; he seems to be at every posh restaurant, fancy store, or exclusive gaming dub the women visit as they trip thru London trailing hundred-dollar bills. Kadish and Kirtland. authors of "London on $500 a Day," have eyes and checkbooks wide open as they visit the toniest stores and trendiest restaurants. It's a lively romp, reported with light humor seldom seen in guidebooks. Case in point: The women introduce one of London's best tailors, a chap named Tommy Nutter "He's in his early thirties and good-looking enough to make it worth your while to pretend that you're divorced and buying a suit for your ex-husband." Most of us, should we ever get to London, would probably try to stretch our $500 to cover at least a week, but it's quite a vicarious trip. "London on $500 a Day," by Feme Kadish and Kathleen Kirtland, 148 pages, MacMillan, $795- LB. Mora openers Chicago Tribune Magazine

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