Maestro of The Mike

Saluting Stan Freberg, whose satire still shines

Omaha! lasts only 6 1/2 minutes, but on radio it must have sounded like forever. A spoof of Oklahoma!-style Broadway musicals, it features an overture, a story and three original, fully orchestrated songs, including one in which a chorus of townsfolk implores the "Omaha moon" not to shine on Council Bluffs. Only in the last minute does the reason for this lavish parody become apparent. Omaha, Neb., it seems, is the hometown of Butter-Nut Coffee. Omaha! is a commercial.

In the 1950s, when the hard sell was hard to avoid, Stan Freberg came along to show Madison Avenue that the commercial...