The Most Influential Voice In the Campaign
By Andrew McGinn, Staff Writer
SPRINGFIELD — By the time Bob Jump declares, “North Dakota (dramatic pause) legendary,” you’re scrambling for a phone. "Holy cow", you’re thinking, "I’ve got to take a vacation to Minot! I need that North Dakota travel guide! Now!"
That’s how good the man is.
The Springfield native — an active voice-over talent — has lent his voice to sell everything from Smucker’s and Armor All to Matchbox cars and, yes, North Dakota’s tourism division. Selling our great nation’s 39th state was actually tougher than he made it sound.
“I’m thinking, ‘Who the hell would want to go there?’ ” Jump joked. “You gotta go for the spin.”
And you gotta have that voice. Whether it’s being used in a TV commercial or a radio spot, Jump can sell the impossible. Like a summer getaway to North Dakota. Or a Republican in Massachusetts.
Jump, who graduated from Northeastern High School in 1968 and now lives in Norfolk, Va., has emerged as the official voice of the GOP, voicing Republican ads in nearly every state. That includes Scott Brown’s much-hyped Senate win last month in the blue land o’ Kennedy. Come political season — and this November is gonna be a biggie — he’ll voice four a day from his home studio.
At this point in his career, he never even has to leave the house. Through a digital phone connection, all the production can be done elsewhere. He need only speak.
“I don’t have to do anything except step up to the mic,” Jump said. “You’d swear I was inside the building. That’s pretty much how the business works anymore. You can be anywhere. I grab a cup of coffee and sometimes I’m in my jammies. You never have a bad hair day.”
Who knew that the dude who blasted now-President Obama as “both-ways Barack” — “worse than a flip-flopper” — had just rolled out of bed? That ad, by the way, was the first political ad to ever air on MTV. And to think, the guy who voiced it got his start at WBLY in Springfield. Actually, that’s not exactly true — Jump entered the business by way of WCOM in Urbana at the age of 18.
“We played a variety,” he said. “It was one of those stations that didn’t have a format. We could be playing Bert Kaempfert and his orchestra and be playing The Beatles next. It was the epitome of local radio. When I went to WBLY, that was a step up. And truthfully, that’s not saying much,” he said.
But in all fairness to the legacy of Smilin’ Bob, WBLY seemed, at least, like an honest-to-God legitimate business.
“We had sales people,” he recalled, “who actually wore suits and ties.”
It was at WBLY that Jump found his true calling — behind-the-scenes production work.
“I want to be in the production room, creating,” he said. “I was OK on the air live, not great. There’s no Take Two when you’re live on the air. That’s what I liked about production.”
He’d pound out a script on his typewriter for, say, Riverdale Dairy, run it by the sales guy and then produce the spot himself. By 1977, Jump was ready for the next level — the Virginia-based production company Studio Center, with such national clients as McDonald’s and IBM, was seeking a producer.
“By the time I left WBLY,” Jump said, “I knew there was much, much more out there.”
In more than 20 years at Studio Center — as a director, producer, engineer and, eventually, company partner — Jump oversaw countless commercials.
“There could be a national spot for McDonald’s,” he said. “At the same time, there could be a small spot for a flower boutique in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.”
In 2000, Jump stepped out on his own as a voice for hire. While he has the voice for it, he’d rather leave movie previews to other guys. He’s not really all that interested in it, although he voiced a radio commercial for “The Bourne Supremacy” for use in Great Britain. “He tried to tell them,” the preview warns. “He tried to warn them. They should have listened.” Yeah, baby. Jason Bourne is comin’ to put the hurt on y’all.
“There are other guys who can do it better than I can,” Jump confessed.
He’s taken a liking to the political stuff.
“I’d rather sell a candidate, with all his wishes and dreams,” he said, “than I would a golf ball.”
At first he did voice-over work for both Republicans and Democrats.
“My philosophy was, you have two parties,” Jump said, “you have two sources of income.”
He had to choose a side.
“You can’t work both sides of the fence,” he said.
He describes himself as a fiscal conservative who doesn’t necessarily agree with everyone’s position.
It’s just a job.
“I’m speaking on behalf of the client or the cause,” Jump said. “My politics are irrelevant.”
© 2018 Jumpworldwide, LLC.