LOCAL TV – I’ll Have What Fred Rated Was Having

If you aren’t an old school Southern Californian, the next sentence will mean nothing to you, but here goes. Fred Rated and I once celebrated our shared birthday together. I was working my night job at the time and he just happened to show up so we birthday bonded with each other for a few magical moments. Basically, he partied with his friends while I pretended not to be geeking out. If current tv commercials were half as creative as those old drug trip Federated spots, I wouldn’t fast forward through everything on my DVR.

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He now stays behind the scenes as the voice of the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, but decades ago our local airwaves were under attack by actor/radio dj Shadoe Stevens (Terry Ingstad) and his frenetic alter ego, a hyperactive electronics pitchman in a Miami Vice suit. From Stevens’ web site:

“In the 1980′s, Shadoe Stevens was retained to devise an advertising strategy and branding campaign for a 14 store electronics chain known as the Federated Group. He created and played a character named Fred Rated in a series of commercials that were a mix of Saturday Night Live and Monty Python. Over a period of six years, he and a small team of artists created over 1,200 different commercials.”

Now let’s read that again… IN SIX YEARS, SIX PEOPLE CREATED 1,200 FRED RATED COMMERCIALS. Chew on that for a second. According to sources, they created between 4-6 commercials A WEEK. Watching these videos, it’s pretty clear to me that the Fred Rated crew probably wasn’t fueled by coffee and creative juices alone, though. It was the 80s, after all. (Seriously, if you’re epileptic, you might not want to click play on the clips below.)

Scroll down for a large collection of the best of Fred Rated, plus a little trivia about the man who created him. He helped to create KROQ too, didja know that? Didn’t think so…

For most of the Federated Group commercials, credits are: Michael J. Hill – Producer; Dave Nichols – Writer; Chris Culverhouse – Technical Director; Chuck Cirino – Cameraman/Director/Editor; and Shadoe Stevens – Ringleader/Star.

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• According to this site, “Stevens first came to fame in 1957, when a Life Magazine article about him, entitled “America’s Youngest D.J.” featured a photo of Stevens broadcasting live over Radio Station KEYJ (now called KQDJ) in his hometown of Jamestown, North Dakota. The accompanying article extolled the fact that he had built his own working transmitter in the attic of his home the year before, using a “souped-up” wireless broadcasting kit with a hundred foot antenna, however it omitted the additional information that the equipment and advice needed to build the transmitter, had both been furnished by the staff engineers at KEYJ, which happened to be owned by his father and uncle.”

• Country radio station KBBQ (1500 AM) in Burbank switched its music format to Top-40 in September of 1972. In 1973, the owners then bought struggling KPPC-FM from the Pasadena Presbyterian Church and hired Shadoe Stevens to create a new rock format described as high energy “all-cutting-edge-rock-all-the-time.” The FM station’s call letters were changed to KROQ.

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9 Responses to “LOCAL TV – I’ll Have What Fred Rated Was Having”

  1. Thanks for this. It’s terrific. You made my day and I sent it on to all the guys who were part of the madness. Probably the most fun any of us ever had at any job. I appreciate the salute and I’m sure the others do too. Have a great weekend.

    • David says:

      What a joy to re-live the fond days of Shadoe & Co.’s Fred Rated commercials. Shadoe has had a long, varied, and illustrious career, but he will always be Fred Rated to me. No matter where I’ve seen him (Hollywood Squares, Dave’s World, Late Late Show, etc.) as soon as I heard that wonderful voice, I’m instantly transported back to the days of these TV commercials. Thanks for compiling!

  2. Timmy says:

    I find it most appropriate to see this fitting tribute to an almost unnatural creative mind-wielding creator of advertisements from the void. I mean, where would people have shopped if we weren’t lead to Federated, via these mind-boggling TV ads? Thank you for posting this. You have a great idea with this site. L.A.’s past Glory’s! Hurray!

  3. Fisch says:

    Man, this is bringing back some childhood memories… Whatever happened to Frieda Rated?

  4. Connie says:

    THANK YOU!!! OMG, after the horrible day I had, I stumbled upon your site and started poking around when what do I see? Fred Rated!!!! I have been laughing for the past 45 minutes. THANK YOU for saving these gems!

  5. Kelley says:

    Probably as close to a local hero as I ever had. Didn’t know about the KROQ connection. Need to find my ‘Rocks of LA’ table lighter.
    Now, would someone do a tribute to Channel 11′s ‘MetroNews/MetroNews’?

  6. HelenofPeel says:

    Wow! That brings back the 80′s for me! Loved it!
    Seems like we were more creative back then…
    …or just plain crazy…
    …or just high…


  7. Dave says:

    My sister and I grew up watching those commercials and would bust up laughing whenever they’d come on. Absolutely awesome!

  8. Mark says:

    Thanks for posting this! I spent many hours on weekends while I was growing up in the 80′s at this place. The location Olde Towne Mall in Torrance was humongous. I got some of my first exposure to 8-bit home computing here. I would play endlessly with the Atari’s and Commodores. My Dad and I bought most of our audio gear there too.

    I miss these days before the Best Buys and Costcos. It was a much simpler time with way more selection!

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