Maraca Media-John O'Mara

Freelance copywriter and blogger, shakin' and rockin' it


The first sentence of your radio ad is crucial to the success of the spot and the campaign.

Do it right and the listener is intrigued. They want to hear more.

Do it wrong and kiss ’em goodbye!

The problem is, so many advertisers and reps think of radio spots as announcements. Tell them, inform them and wow them.


I’ve written hundreds of scripts promoting concerts, plays and events and often the client wants this…

Phoenix Promotions presents (insert name of band, festival, etc.)!!!!!!!!

No one cares about the promoter. “Oh, I’ve heard they put on good shows,” said no listener ever.

Put that in the second line, or at the end.

Now, you’re saying, what’s wrong with that beginning? It WILL preach to the converted but that’s all. Unless the show is a guaranteed sell-out. But, artists are struggling these days and can’t rely on radio support or album sales, so it’s harder to fill venues.


What about folks who may be interested but aren’t overly familiar with the performer? A well-written opening line could persuade them to buy tickets and discover a new favourite musician.


Give them a taste of what they’re in for…a spell-binding performance, heartfelt songs, dazzling virtuosity.

It’s similar to car advertising. Sell the test drive. Put them behind the wheel or, in this case, in that theatre.

The key is to catch the listener with something relevant. Why should they care? They won’t if you start with….

  • ‘It’s back by popular demand…”
  • “It’s the sale you’ve been waiting for…
  • “Jiffy Paint & Wallpaper is proud to announce their newest product line.”


If they’re not familiar with your products or services, they haven’t been waiting to hear from you. You aren’t on their radar.


“I told them a hundred times, put Spinal Tap first and Puppet Show last.”

Like us on Facebook. Unlikely. Follow us on Instagram. Nope. That’s for people who are already fans and have had satisfactory to great experiences with said business.

The principles of online marketing apply to radio and really, they always have…attract, engage, delight and whammo, repeat customer.

And you attract with relevant content that answers a need, solves a problem or makes the audience curious enough to check out Youtube videos of the singer you are presenting next month.

Talk about them, and they’ll want to know you.


One of the most effective ways of attracting customers and keeping them happy is through Email Marketing.

You may have seen a Hubspot certification on the right side of my page. I’ve learned the ways of pitching and wooing…in terms of online sales. I’m still working on those elements when it comes to romancing the ladies. Aren’t we all?

Sending your basic sales messages will result in them being regarded as spam. Doomed to the folder filled with phishing scammers and blackmailers.

Not good.


Emilie, aka Emilia or just Em!

Meet my friend Emilie. We’ve known each other for several years and in 2016, Em launched Emilia’s Swimwear.

One of the most popular email marketing sites is Mailchimp. Remember them sponsoring the Serial podcast?

I used a Mailchimp design to create a landing page demo for Em. Her site already has an email marketing element…popup signup forms and such…so this was strictly done as practice.

I took some of Em’s photos and created a montage with Canva. Since it’s a demo and not live, I can’t post an interactive version, but here’s a PDF of the landing page.

Emilia’s Swimwear Reversible swimwear

The landing page is where people initially sign up for your mailing list. In my case, the Maraca Media LP is live and it’s resulted in 40 signups in less than two weeks.

Check it out…

Want me to create an email landing page, signup forms or a campaign for you?

Email me:



I play tennis, volleyball, slowpitch and fastpitch softball and it’s amazing my left thumb still functions.

I’ve managed to avoid thumb injuries on the courts and fields.

But, I use said digit to scroll and scroll and scroll my iPad screen through dozens of Facebook posts and Twitter tweets.

Share or repost this. No. There’s a good chance someone halfway around the world is getting paid by the click and exploiting a sad-faced little doggie to boost his income.

Maybe the puppy lover is also the blackmailer who crafts those grammar-challenged emails.


Let’s call him Sergei from Siberia.

“Hmm, what do I do today?” Sergei ponders his options. “Do I create a meme that will piss people off and force them to share with an OMG? Cha-ching! Or will type: I am SERIOUS do not ignore this email, I see you sick perv and I am now wanting to send your video to all your contacts. Do not INRAGE me I am fully knowing you are being happy to avoid embarrassment. You must send me $7,000 in Bitcoin and I will delete the files.”

Well, thanks for ensuring I never use Bitcoin, Sergei. 

“Bitcoin, the preferred choice of thousands of blackmailers and scammers around the world!”

So, back to Facebook.

It’s giving me carpal tunnel from scrolling past the political rants and posts expressing outrage over whatever until I stop to check out an animal rescue video. They pulled the baby elephant out of that river!

I’m not being sarcastic in the latter case. I get misty-eyed when those creatures are reunited with their mothers.


I enjoy viewing photos of my overseas relatives and proud parents holding their newborns, and finding out what’s happening in the lives of friends who live far away.

But Facebook is full of time-sucking crap.

There’s that fucking MAGA kid again.

Think of the hours spent debating a story that would not have existed without camera phones, Facebook and Twitter. A non story. Whether you thought he treated the old man like a character at Disney World (look guys, an Indian!) or felt the teen was blameless…

All we got was a Zapruder-style video analysis that led to the inevitable name calling and insults.


Here’s a snippet from the Tech Crunch piece linked below:

The assholes out there are very real, and often their behavior is indeed hateful. Sure, you don’t have all the context. You never have all the context. But sometimes you don’t need all the context, and sometimes even when you have it, it only reinforces the cries of outrage and hate you see flying in from all sides, from your friends, from your acquaintances, endlessly retweeted and shared.

And that’s why I suffer from Facebook Fatigue.

During the last municipal election, The Wasaga Facebook news and commentary (umm, bitching) page featured non-stop attacks on the incumbent mayor and his opponent. The posts were often personal and nasty.

I felt bad for both of them. 

Jarod Lanier thinks we should all quit social media. Here’s a quote from the article linked below:

His most dispiriting observations are those about what social media does to politics – biased, “not towards the left or right, but downwards”. If triggering emotions is the highest prize, and negative emotions are easier to trigger, how could social media not make you sad?

Filling you with sadness, depression, anxiety and rage. That should be part of Facebook’s mission statement, right below “It’s free and always will be!”

I wish Zuck’s World was a place where people were informed or at least felt they had a grasp of the situation, then reacted.

Yeah I know, what colour is the sky in mine?

Facebook IS free so I am free to scroll past anything that’s guaranteed to make me angry, and to avoid keyboard battles with folks who spend their days scouring the internet for proof of my cluelessness.

This is Ringo, my cockatiel. Cute little fella, huh?

His crest is sticking up, which means he’s worried or apprehensive. 

Ringo says, and I agree…post more bird videos!





“I really want my radio ad to stand out!”

Your message can stand out, even if it’s one of three, four or more in a cluster.

Let’s start with the wrong way to get attention.

I shall whisk you back to the early ’90s when young John was asked to write spots for a furniture warehouse. One with “the best prices…amazing deals,” and every week a new sale, blowout or clearance event.

This was before email. You phoned the client to get copy. This particular fellow (who later became a woman) proposed starting his ads with a police siren because, “THAT will get the listener’s attention.”

It did. In the wrong way.


The radio station received calls from angry listeners. The siren caused some to pull over and others to check their review mirrors for an ambulance or firetruck.

Initially,  I scoffed at the idea. Seriously, they thought it was a real emergency?


Imagine you’re behind the wheel, trying to focus on your fellow drivers, pedestrians and traffic lights. That friendly radio announcer promises to return after a short break and then…

It’s the police! Law enforcement, not the band that gave us Roxanne.

After a few seconds you realize it’s part of the commercial. You’re pissed! How dare they jolt you like that!


Here’s the worst part of that scenario, if you’re the advertiser. You’ve angered that potential customer to the point where they resent you for tricking them.

You mad them take notice, oh yes, but in a very annoying way and proceeded to hit them with mattress specials and deals on appliances.

So, am I saying you shouldn’t begin a spot with sound effects?


If they set the scene, go ahead. Bubbles for a hot tub. A sizzling steak for a restaurant. Children laughing for an indoor playground. They need to relate to the business and engage the audience.

Sound effects should enhance the message, not be the main feature.

Over the years, I’ve been handed or sent many requests from reps looking for “something that stands out. We really want to impress him/her.”

Translation? The client is new to radio and isn’t sure the ads will work so let’s blow them away with sound effects, maybe echoes or reverb, and a commercial that’s heavy on razzle dazzle.

By the way, I write to boost sales for all sizes of businesses. The store owner who can only afford $100 a month deserves great copy as well.


You know what really makes a spot stick out? An honest, solid beginning.

Saying something that matters to the listener.

“You can lose 20 pounds by Easter.”

“You can cut your energy costs by 20 percent.”

Openings like that get attention. The audience is intrigued and says, “tell me more.”

They listen to the next 25 seconds.

Instead of mentally tuning out until the next song or weather report. Or swearing at the radio, changing the station and vowing never to support the advertiser that got their attention by duping them.

Get John to write for you or add him to your staff on a freelance basis. Email:



Canada is not soft. Our hearts are stronger than most.

When I was 9 years old and living in the (then) Toronto suburb of Scarborough I was chowing down on Chinese food with my parents, and an East Indian family.

Our host was a man named Joe Pereira.

Joe and my Dad, Joseph O’Mara, became friends after being coworkers at a Scarborough insurance company.

I didn’t think much about it at the time but now I’m wondering if the Caucasian managers, adjusters and office folk thought, without saying it out loud, “Joe is friends with that Paki?”

We’re talking about the early ’70s.


At school, we told Paki jokes. And African American jokes that painted them as people with big lips who couldn’t possibly own anything unless they had stolen it. Stick their lips to a wall. What do you call a (n word) with a new bike? A thief.

We were young and ignorant.

I don’t know if comments were made behind Dad’s back. I’m hoping not. His managers did give us Leafs tickets a few times a year, mostly for games against the likes of the California Golden Seals.

That’s Reggie Leach, I’m a Flyers fan. Leach escaped from Oakland to win two Stanley Cups in Philadelphia. Leach is First Nations, Ojibwe.

Dad always sided with the targets of abuse or anyone he felt was being unfairly maligned. Maybe it’s because he had a neuromuscular disorder similar to MS. As much as he laughed at “A Fish Called Wanda”, Joe O’Mara cringed over every scene that featured Michael Palin’s stuttering character.

I know what Dad was thinking. “There’s nothing amusing about stuttering. I have a disorder, so does he.”

Dad would have slayed people on social media.


That ridiculous “Canada is soft” rant circulating on Facebook? Dad would have ripped it to shreds.

Canada is not soft. It’s a nation of strong willed , tougher-than-most people. We are resilient, We appreciate the support of our neighbours when things aren’t going so well. We donate to local food banks, and to causes around the globe.

The aforementioned Facebook post suggests Canada spends far too much on foreign aid when, in fact, our nation has been criticized around the world for not giving enough.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives sent more dollars abroad (higher percentage of GDP) than the current government does.

We love our country, and anyone suffering through civil wars, drought and dictatorships in other countries.

I was born in Manchester, England. So, imagine if, in 1965, the Canadian government had said my family was not welcome here. Your home is being appropriated for a new motorway, tough darts.



One of my favourite Facebook friends is Farah Nasser. A few years back, Farah was diagnosed with polyarteritis nodarosa, which affects “the medium-sized arteries, which become swollen and damaged from being attacked by rogue immune cells.

Farah is a Muslim, born in Mississauga. Here’s link to her Global News series, “First Time I Was Called…”

Cleary, we haven’t progressed much in terms of racial tolerance. That Facebook plea to “help our own at home,” slash foreign aid and halt immigration is a sad reminder.

Admission from yours truly. I developed a crush on Farah back when she anchored the weekend news on City TV. Dad was rather fond of Lisa LaFlamme.

The apple does not fall far from the tree. We like smart women.

Facebook is full of extremes. If I am here and you are way over there and there’s no chance of us meeting in the middle, farewell. Unfriend me. I will not be offended. Call me a snowflake. Maybe I am, If that means standing up for those who are being attacked simply by the colour of their skin or because you think white British or European immigrants are more Canadian than a Syrian refugee escaping atrocities we thankfully have never even imagined….

No, not gonna go there.


If you believe Canada is a better place in which to live or raise a family, welcome. We celebrate our diversity. You can drive down Markham Road in Scarborough, stop at the traffic light and see women in hijabs protecting adorable children from ongoing motorists and think…

They are Canadian and happy to be here.

You feel the same way.

Back in Manchester, my family had the choice to move a few blocks away. We wouldn’t have been threatened in any way. Recent refugees could have been murdered, jailed or oppressed.

We are one. A proud nation, envied around the globe.

Soft? No, tough as nails, especially on a hockey rink, but with hearts bigger than Lake Superior.

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