“Snicker, Chuckle:” Terry Winkelmann Interviews Walt Jaschek, 1994

Flashbacks, Press Coverage, Process, TV Promotion

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This article by Terry Winkelmann first appeared on the front page of the St. Louis Southtown Word newspaper on August 11, 1994. The photo of Walt and Adam Jaschek is by Nate Silver. It was summer. That was our backyard patio.  Adam was 11. 

Snicker, Chuckle

Southside resident generates worldwide laughs

By Terry Winkelmann

If you watch CBS or Fox during prime-time or NBC late night, chances are good that you’ve laughed at Walt Jaschek – or at least his work.

The advertising agency of Paul & Walt Worldwide specializes in tickling the funny bones of radio television audiences. The St. Louis-half of the duo –– lives and works in a three-story brick house in quiet Clifton Heights. His partner, Paul Fey, works out of a high-rise on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Jaschek, a former advertising executive at Southwestern Bell Telephone, writes commercials for some of the top brands in the country, including Cadillac and Anheuser-Busch Cos. But possibly his most recognized effects are his television promotions. He’s done work for NBC, specifically spots for Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, but for the past three years, the firm’s biggest clients has been CBS. Earlier this year, Fox Broadcasting signed Jaschek to create a national radio campaign for “The Simpsons.”

Jaschek and Fey, who met in their undergraduate days at UMSL, teamed up in 1991. The partnership has won the critical acclaim of most advertising and entertainment industry organizations. Last year, the team won five Ollie awards at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s 33rd Annual International Broadcasting Awards. They’ve also scored two Clio awards, three Addys and a dozen International Broadcasting awards, among others.

“It’s fun to be part of the national entertainment scene,” says Jaschek.

It’s also fun to work at home, autonomously. That leaves this father of two free to squire his son, Adam, to swimming lessons during the summer. Adam Jaschek also helps Dad review new series and is also the first line critic on shows and certain promotional spots. When the sitcoms “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Family Matters” debuted, Adam saw the pilots before any of his classmates did. The network frequently sends by overnight express videos of new series for Jaschek to examine. Not only do his spots garner a show attention during a season, the commercials can affect its initial acceptance.

When first setting up shop in his basement, he went door to door telling his neighbors he’d be working from home. One resident responded with relief. “Oh good,” the man said. “I thought you were on a really long vacation.”

Jaschek confesses he had “no formal training” in TV promotion. Once he stumbled on the specialty, courtesy opportunities brought in by partner Fey, he simply realized “how fun it was and how many of my skills, some useless until that point, came into play.” Writing humorous promos “just evolved,” he says.

Writing a campaign can up to a week, but sometimes he has just 24-hours to come up with 60 seconds of knee-slapping wit. That’s when the glamour of working at home wanes. In the early days of Paul & Walt Worldwide, he recalls, “I worked morning, noon, night and weekends… I was totally consumed.”

These days, having settled into somewhat of a routine, he doesn’t start writing until 2 p.m. “In the morning, I’m watching pilots, taking notes, getting Adam to swimming lessons, brainstorming with partner Paul, letting the dog out…” But after 2 p.m., he gets cranking.

Just a year ago, Jaschek wrote 100 percent of the material his produces – approximately 500 commercials a year. Now he shares the work with another writer in the five-person Sunset Boulevard offices headed by Paul Fey.

Once he’s written the scripts, he sends them to L.A. via modem. “Paul prints them out and presents them to CBS,” he says.

Fey then produces the approved scripts, supervising the casting, directing and editing, in state-of-the-art recording studios in the L.A. office of Paul & Walt Worldwide. Once the approved spots are completed, the network ships them out to radio networks and stations nationally.

“CBS thinks it’s funny that I live in St. Louis,” Jaschek says. A few years ago, I would have had to live in L.A. to do what I do. But today, for all the difference it makes, “I could be in the office down the hall, across town or St. Louis.”

With Los Angeles two hours behind St. Louis time, Jaschek’s hours are also longer. “I feel like a really, really remote suburb of L.A.”

Relocating is not in the cards, he insists. “I love St. Louis. My extended family is here, and it’s a pleasant places, lush, green – and not crowded.”

Working from home is an “accountability thing,” he says. “People take responsibility for their own works, ideas and lives” when the clock that’s running is their own.

Jaschek has just completed a screenplay, is working on a comic book, and is a guest lecturer at Webster University. In short: “I’m having a blast,” he says.

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Walt Jaschek used to have a mustache.

 

Walt Jaschek Learns to Love Green Drinks

Flashbacks, Newspapers, Press Coverage, Walt a Life

This article by Jacob Barker appeared in the April 20, 2007, edition of the Webster-Kirkwood Times newspaper. The photo is by Diane Linsley.

Green Drinks: Cold Beer, Cool Talk About the Environment

by Jacob Barker

When Kirkwood resident Walt Jaschek walked up to the house that was hosting Green Drinks, an environmental organization he heard about through friends, he couldn’t get inside.

“I walked over from my then apartment and approached this house crawling with people,” he said. “It looked more like an event I’d see in my advertising life, with a lot of young professionals arriving in their cool cars.”

Jaschek stood at the front door along with a half-dozen other people, none of whom could get into the crowded house.

Jaschek has attended two meetings held by Green Drinks, a group that holds monthly meetings of “green” thinking individuals who network and share ideas. The organization began in an English pub and now has chapters in over 150 different cities throughout the world.

“I think they’re really on to something,” Jaschek said. “You can sense the enthusiasm, you can sense that they’re on the front wave of something. I wouldn’t doubt if in the near future there would be Green Drinks Kirkwood or Green Drinks Webster.”

South City resident Terry Winkelmann joined the St. Louis chapter shortly after it began in 2005.

“The whole point of Green Drinks is to connect and provide a way for people to meet other like-minded people in St. Louis so that we realize we’re not alone in our interest in the environment and sustainability issues,” she said.

Green Drinks is not really a membership-based organization, Winkelmann said. But more than 300 people attended the last meeting and many regulars have asked her if meetings could be held weekly, she said.

Winkelmann was initially attracted to the organization when she was preparing to open her store. At her first meeting she talked to other environmentally conscious individuals and tested her ideas. This is a big part of Green Drinks meetings now, she said, to talk with a diverse group of people about global and local environmental issues.

“It’s kind of like a chamber of commerce meeting, except it’s for people who are not in any way related except for their interest and concern for the environment,” Winkelmann said. “There are business people, there are civics people, non-profits, teachers, people who work in the environmental field, people who want to volunteer in the environmental field.

“We have found that people have found jobs by coming to Green Drinks, people have started businesses going to Green Drinks and testing out ideas,” she continued. “The only real common element is that people are concerned about the way we’ve been doing things for so long and they are aware that there are better ways of working, of shopping of building, of everything.”

Winkelmann said that monthly meetings usually occur in a bar, with the next meeting to include a panel of speakers who give a presentation on a specific topic. March’s Green Drinks meeting featured a talk on handling natural areas in homeowner’s yards. Jeff Depew, professor of biology and environmental studies at Webster University and owner of Earth Designs in Webster Groves, was one of the speakers at the meeting.

“It’s a great organization,” Depew said. “The fact that it’s in little St. Louis, which is largely an un-environmental city, is great. It’s a testament to the fact that people are trying in St. Louis to make more of an environmental impact, an environmental statement, and change our ways in St. Louis, which is pretty remarkable.”

Jaschek was particularly impressed with the discussion on native plants and natural areas in yards.

“The topic at the last meeting, how to handle natural areas (in your yard), was actually one of the most interesting conversations I’ve heard,” he said. “I learned a lot. I think any homeowner with a yard would have been fascinated by the topic and the points of views. You don’t have to be ‘green’ to get useful information about how our environments fit in with the environment.”

Depew also learned from the meeting.

“There’s no one who knows all the answers, it’s just not that type of environmental problem that we’re into,” he said. “Everyone is learning something all the time. There is no one who knows all the answers.”

Last month was Depew’s first time attending a Green Drinks meeting. He said he plans to continue attending. He said the organization is a valuable informational resource and a testament to rising environmental consciousness among more and more people.

“People are hungry for this information, and they don’t know exactly where to go other than the Internet,” Depew said. “Here is a little organization that is presenting environmental topics and environmental solutions and environmental connections within the city in a comfortable social atmosphere.”

Jaschek hopes more and more people from outside St. Louis City begin attending Green Drinks. Although he has always thought of himself as “green,” Jaschek is now more enthusiastic and educated about environmental issues because of Green Drinks.

“Now is the time to be much more so (environmentally conscious),” he said. “The clock is ticking, the environment locally and globally is in peril. It’s not a political construct. We all have to do more, and sometimes that just starts with learning and talking…and drinking.”

Green Drinks held a meeting on Tuesday, April 17, to help celebrate its second anniversary as a St. Louis chapter. Representatives from a dozen environmental groups in the greater St. Louis area were be attendance.

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Terry Winkelmann (left) shares a drink with Kirkwood resident Walt Jaschek at an April 17 Green Drinks gathering. Behind them are door mats made of recycled flip-flops. Photo by Diane Linsley

© Webster Kirkwood Times