The announcing staff auditioned for certain advertising clients to do live commercials and, if chosen, they received an additional $5 for each commercial delivered on-air until 1959, when the fee was doubled.   Most commercials were one minute long, according to Jerry.  That was a long time to be on the air live when you were trying to do a perfect job.  Although we had cue cards most of the time, it was routine to ad-lib local commercials.  I remember doing live spots for the Shell Oil Company.  I wore a uniform and we had an entire service station set, including gas pumps, right in the studio.  I did have a script but they gave me freedom to say it my own way if I needed to.


Jerry substitute anchors the sports program

What the camera doesn't see: Jerry wearing shorts and thong sandals!

There was a certain anxiety about being on-the-air live that heightened your senses and helped you think more quickly.  Tenseness would take away from the performance so there had to be a difference between the anxiety and potential tension.  The closest we came to getting uptight was when we had to stand-by for live local commercials during cut-ins from the national football games and other sporting events.  We never knew when they were coming.  We often got just vague verbal cues from the network and everybody on duty had to instinctively know it was time for us to do our thing and make sure it was timed to the second.