Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Perfect Gift for 'Sitting by an Open Fire'

In 2013 Sun librarian Paul McCardell went exploring in the publisher's vault which is located in the basement of The Baltimore Sun, and discovered a large cardboard box containing two vinyl-records. The box was labeled "Electrical Transcription / WFBR, Radio Centre, Baltimore, Maryland / SUNPAPERS OVERSEAS PGM. / FROM OVERSEAS / 12/25/1943." 

These two records, each 30-minutes in duration, were copies of a special Christmas radio broadcast sponsored by The Sun. The broadcast was originally transmitted across the Atlantic from 'Somewhere in England' and aired locally by WFBR in Baltimore and nine other radio stations across the state. It also aired in Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

The special, organized by Sun war correspondents Lee McCardell and Holbrook Bradley, featured voices and performances of servicemen from the 29th Infantry Division, the Army Air Forces and women of the Red Cross and allowed many of them the opportunity to say hello to friends and family back home.

The timing and rediscovery of such a treasure prompted Paul and multimedia editor Steve Sullivan to work carefully on digitizing the hour-long broadcast which was rebroadcast online via baltimoresun.com for its 70th anniversary on Christmas 2013.
This commemorative CD is a re-recording of a special 1943 Baltimore Sun Christmas broadcast which brings to life the voices and music of more than two-score soldiers from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The servicemen participating in the broadcast were stationed somewhere in the British Isles during their training for the invasion of Europe. Voices and performances include servicemen from the 29th Infantry Division, the Army Air Forces and women of the Red Cross.

Now, let's jump ahead to August 2014. Sales for Written Under Fire continued to stay strong, but the holidays were approaching and I wanted to squeeze as much revenue out of this product as I could. I enlisted the help of multimedia editor Steve Sullivan to burn 300 copies of the Christmas broadcast onto CD-Rs while I purchased fiberboard CD sleeves for packaging, designed the CD label and sleeve cover, and assembled the finished product. We were going to bundle this CD with the book to increase sales. It worked! We sold out of the CDs multiple times and had to take backorders. This was a very good problem to have.

To promote the CD/book bundle I designed the following two holiday ads. For these ads I selected two Sun photos depicting soldiers in a wintery-scene and just like in previous campaigns I colorized them. Then I again looked to the past for inspiration with style and template.

I also promoted this CD as a supplement to the book because Lee McCardell and Holbrook Bradley, both correspondents in the book, organized the broadcast which featured many of the same servicemen from the same division they followed throughout the war.

Duration: November 2014 - December 2014
"When I was out there [in the Ardennes], yesterday, I saw only one Christmas tree. Some soldiers posted along a road had set it up on top of their cannon which was aimed toward Germany. They had no Christmas bells and no tinsel with which to decorate it, but I think it was the bravest Christmas tree I have ever seen." -Lee McCardell - December 24, 1944
"Good afternoon everyone, we're about to bring you a full-hour special broadcast direct from England. This broadcast is a Christmas present from the Sunpapers of Baltimore so that you may hear the voices of your servicemen and women overseas. The program was arranged in Britain by Lee McCardell, Holbrook Bradley and Thomas O'Neill. Literally dozens of your friends and neighbors have been standing by in Britain to wish you a Merry Christmas so with the very best wishes of the Sunpapers we take you to somewhere in England.' - WFBR of Baltimore, December 25, 1943

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