By Andy Capp
Some things you do for love. Gagging down your Mother’s meatloaf, because she remembers it as your childhood favorite (selective memory at her age), and you haven’t been home in months. Hugging your sister after the accident, even though she borrowed your car without asking, and was reaching in the backseat for her cell phone when she rear ended the police car… amazingly unscathed, considering that she took a trip through the windshield and bounced on the pavement a few times. Forgetting the bucket in the bathroom, and, holding your extremely ill child in your arms at what is obviously a moment past the point of no return, telling them to just let it go, and spending a warm moment with them… a warm, wet and chunky moment, as you think to yourself that you would never have let someone puke on you before you became a parent.
Then there are the professional things you do for love. Wearing that stinky old mascot suit of the stations during the hottest 4 hours of the summer, because it’s your first “radio gig,” and maybe, just maybe the P.D. might give you that Saturday overnight “show.” Listening to 72 different music tracks in the library, because the script has inspired a certain sound in your head, and nothing else will do. Spending several sleepless nights assembling montages for the radiothon… montages that might just touch the heart of some listener with a little disposable income to contribute.
I started writing this column several years ago for love. Love of the radio industry, love of the creative process, love of attempting to write words that mean something. I’m an idealist, and I say that with neither pride nor shame. I do believe that if people share their ideas, it does make a difference. I believe that Radio And Production magazine has made an enormous impact on the profession of creative audio production, bringing Producers out of their little Prod rooms and into an entire world of people as committed as they are to this business of Creative Hot Air. The magazine educates, commiserates, and celebrates our world, and I wanted to be part of the party. Whether I’ve actually contributed anything of worth, RAP has given me a venue to try, and I’m thankful for it. Not only has this column given me a voice, it has also opened some amazing doors and introduced me to many Creative Geniuses that I’m proud to count as friends. Little did I know just how powerful a thing can be when you do it for love.
There are a couple of things you must know. First, this is Andy Capp’s last column in Radio And Production. It wasn’t even my choice. It all goes back to my second day at KELO AM 1320, about a century ago, it seems. The Program Director at that time was the morning guy, a radio hero of mine named Harley Worthit. Really! Ask anyone who grew up in KELO-Land in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and they’ll tell you. Harley was one of the few honest to goodness radio personalities that this state has ever produced. Harley was outrageous on the air, but his real talent came in making himself seem even more outrageous in the public eye. Harley had a P.T. Barnum vision of the radio industry, and he wanted everything on the station to be an event, to stand out and be entertaining, to the smallest detail. In Harley’s eyes, the name “Steve Collins,” that his newest D.J. had been going by, just wasn’t going to cause talk. So, as I was sitting in the studio, trying to learn all of the buttons from one of the other announcers, Harley bursts in, shakes my hand and says, “Welcome to KELO, Andy Capp!” What the hell, I wanted to please, so Andy Capp I became.
I had been hiding behind one mask or another ever since I took up acting in high school. It was always easy to be anyone but myself way back when, and I suppose I got used to it over the years. Besides, people liked Andy and his work, and if they didn’t, I didn’t get hurt… it was his fault, not mine. Really, I’m not that loony (most of the time), but looking back I suppose there is a bit of truth to it all. This business encourages a rather schizophrenic lifestyle. Radio is full of people who are totally out of control in a little room, all alone; but get them in a group of people, and they’re silently terrified.
Enough pop psychology, I haven’t read the introductions to enough self-help books to be an expert anyway. The bottom line is that Andy Capp has been very good to me, but it’s time to grow up and get real. So, with the exception of those few shifts I still pull at KELO, Andy Capp is going away. It’s time for introductions… hi, I’m Trent Rentsch. I’ll be doing this column from now on, just as I have in the past, only without the mask. I’ve been shown that I really don’t need one.
That leads me to the other thing I need to mention. There is this Production Director in Raleigh, NC named Lori McTighe. Lori is a brilliant Producer, who has done wonderful work for WRAL-FM for a number of years. In fact, Lori is one of those Producers I was talking about who works for hours during the radiothon at that station, assembling wonderful montages that touch the hearts and pull the dollars from listeners… all for the local Children’s Hospital. She also does wishes for the Make A Wish Foundation, making sure that dreams come true for ill children. These things she does, not because of some gain for her, but to help others… and for the love of it.
Lori emailed me on April Fools Day, 2 and a half years ago. She had read one of my columns, one I wrote about change when I was going through several painful ones in my life—heaven forbid that I would keep my personal life out of this column! Lori was going through some changes at that time too, and wrote some very nice words about my words. I wrote back to thank her for writing, and that was the beginning of an email friendship that I truly treasure. From her first words, Lori has been encouraging, understanding, supportive… the best friend I have ever had.
This fall I found myself taking a trip to Minneapolis on business. As it happened, Lori had some frequent flyer miles to burn, and as we had always said that we should meet someday, she flew up for the weekend. It was going to be two friends, finally meeting face to face. When she stepped off the plane and our eyes met, I knew my life would never be the same, and luckily for me Lori felt the same.
When I started writing this column some years back, I did it for love, but at the time I didn’t realize what that meant. I do now. Because of this column, I’ve found the love of my life, the woman who agreed when I asked if she would share forever with me. I know now that no matter the obstacle, we will be together. I know now that there is no need to hide; Trent is a perfectly fine person in his own right. I know now that whatever you do, you should do it for love. If you do, everything you want is yours.