By Trent Rentsch
I have a new Creative hero. He’s not world famous, yet, although I’d venture a guess that if you’ve heard his work, you wouldn’t forget it. He’s not one of the biggest, although he’d tell you that, pound for pound, that might not be accurate. But as far as being one of the best, there’s no doubt about it, although not always in ways one might think of as traditionally creative.
Meet Roy. This is actually kind of awkward, as I know so little about him myself. What I have been able to piece together is that Roy is a radio producing, music making, comedy writing, video creating, life loving, first generation Flower Child. While this is a valid description, it really doesn’t tell the enigma that is, well, Roy.
My wife and I met Roy through some of our Creative friends, and frankly at first, we weren’t quite sure what to make of him. An email from Roy was, at best, cryptic. Ah, why mince words… we didn’t know what the hell he was talking about most of the time. One might be discussing the delicate balance between a recent meal and his digestive system, the next might find him writing as if he were a cast member of La Cage.
The picture grew cloudier when my bride met him face to face during a trip to the Pacific Northwest. “Well, he’s big,” my wife explained. “Big, with long gray hair. And, he never stops talking… so much energy… I couldn’t keep up with the conversation half the time.”
Time went on. Emails continued to appear from Roy, some talking about his latest Creative ventures, some talking about, well, whatever was on his mind. And the more I read what’s on his mind, the more I’ve come to appreciate what a Creative mind it is. I suppose he seemed crazy at first, and sometimes he still seems that way. Crazy, yes, like Monty Python/Robin Williams/Jim Carrey crazy.
I’m still not explaining Roy as well as I’d like, or why I’ve become convinced that he is a gifted Creative. As everyone seems to have their own opinion as to what is Creative, maybe throwing out my own definition would offer some explanation. Let’s see… okay, “If a tree falls on the Pope in the woods, who would change the light bulb?” Now jump out of the box and take it a few hundred miles further, paint it green and purple, and twist it into a commercial and/or a funny new floor wax. From what I’ve been able to grasp, that’s kind of how Roy’s Creative mind works.
I guess I’ve become a fan because radio Creative has gotten so damned boring, and I’m including my own work especially. Zips, booms, silly movie/TV drops… style up the wahzoo, no substance. Conversations that aren’t, phone numbers over and over, and directions that would still be vague if you ran them through MapQuest; it’s all the same, a redundant process that is anything but Creative. And just when I nearly forgot to be Creative entirely, Roy came to my rescue.
My client had a script for a window company, and they wanted an old lady voice, “like the neighbor on Bewitched.” I asked my wife if she could pull it off, and that’s when she suggested Roy. Hmmm. Gee, they wanted a woman… still, I trust my wife’s instincts, so I shot him the scripts. What came back blew me away. Yes, the crabby “old lady” character right on, but there was more. The words of the so-so script were the same, but somehow he found more than what was there, and his voice-over gave the commercial life.
I know a lot of people who are funny, who can turn into a million characters with only their vocal cords, who can write copy that’s compelling enough to direct many listeners to a client’s store. But there are few souls left in this industry with that childlike wonder it takes to really let go, to fly in the face of average and let Creative Magic happen. Roy is one of those souls. And I fear that if this industry doesn’t let him spread his Creative wings, he’ll fly elsewhere. In fact, he’s already started a freelance video company with a partner, and if it continues to become more Creatively rewarding than radio, well…
Yes, there are rules that must be followed. Yes, one must be strategically Creative for radio advertising or promotion to be effective. And yes, not everything on the radio needs to be wildly Creative, in fact it wouldn’t be appropriate for many things. But beyond these things, radio seems to be putting limitations on itself that will kill its Creative spirit, and while it might not kill the industry, it’s certainly going to drive away the good Creatives, and the advertisers that believe in them. There used to be a thousand Roys in radio, each completely unique and gifted. Now there are hundreds. If we get down to the same 40 or 50 people producing for the entire industry, will we still be able to make it REAL Creative?
I’d like to believe that there are enough powers that be in this industry that still believe in the Roys and Dicks and Loris and all the other Creative souls, and know that we need that unique Creative spark to keep the industry alive as the competition becomes more powerful and diverse. Uniqueness is the one thing we need now more than ever, and boy, is Roy unique!