q-it-up-logo2Q It Up: What are you doing to keep your edge? Are you reading? Do you have a consultant? Going to seminars? Researching current marketing trends on your own? Digesting RAP mag every month? Eating vegetarian? What are you doing to keep your edge?

Brad Lane [blane[at]1500ESPN.com], KSTP/WFMP, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Besides drinking heavily, for me, the one thing I’ve noticed over the years that’s helped keep my creative juices flowing, is to get out of the studio as often as possible. The majority of my best ideas come while I’m watching TV, driving, taking a shower (bad mental image I know, but work with me), or hitting golf balls (another bad mental image if you’ve seen my game). The old phrase, “can’t see the forest for the trees” comes to mind when trying to come up with promo and/or commercial ideas if I’m just sitting in a studio all day.

Get out, enjoy things -- take in as much of life as possible. Because I believe interesting people come up with the most interesting ideas.

Craig Jackman [Craig.Jackman[at]ottawaradio.rogers.com], Rogers Media, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: After finding my edge dulled recently, I’ve been doing a number of things to hone it back into shape. First, collaborate, be that with a great outside voice talent or the promo intern down the hall. I can’t do it all myself and need the ideas and input of others to do my best stuff. This includes sending your finished material out to others to get their opinion and suggestions to make your work better, then actually trying out their suggestions. Second, admit that you don’t know everything and learn something new. Currently, I’m slowly going through DJ Earworm’s textbook, the Audio Mashup Construction Kit. Eventually I’ll get to the chapter on how to use Sony Acid, which will be new to me, and I’m looking forward to that. This book is reminding me how much I’ve forgotten on music theory and putting elements together. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and try something new and different. At worst you’ll learn it didn’t work for you, and at best you’ll find a whole new world to work and play in. Lastly, get a life! There is more to what you are than what you do in the studio. Having hobbies and interests away from the station keeps you energized and refreshed for what you do for a living. Me? I take motorcycle trips into the Virginia and North Carolina mountains. A week on the road in cheap motels, with cheap beer and good steaks, clears my head of whatever’s been building up. I can come back and really dig into what’s in front of me.

Andrew Frame [andrew[at]bafsoundworks.com], BAFSoundWorks, Lehigh Acres, Florida: With the economy, there’s no room for seminars and consultants, and eating vegetarian is a matter of the budget. There’s nothing about keeping an “edge” right now, and everything about making time to work the phones for new prospects, keep close touch with talent, super-serve existing clients, and work, work, work. Fortunately, we are part of an active e-mail list of production peeps, so the daily conversations reinforce that we’re neither alone, nor in it by ourselves. We really do get by with a LOT of help from our friends. In turn, we’re happy to help them out when they need.

Blaine Parker [bp[at]slowburnmarketing.com]: Call me crazy, but I’m going to my 12th Dan O’Day International Radio Creative & Production Summit. Always good for sharpening the tools in the box and occasionally acquiring new ones. I’m reading RAP Mag, especially Steve Cunningham’s regular screeds. (Thank you, Steve.) I listen to a lot of local radio to hear what advertisers are putting on the air (much of it is manure-like). Besides subscribing to AdWEEK, I’m reading Fast Company, Inc, Entrepreneur and The Wall Street Journal to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in business generally, as well as in marketing specifically—something that’s quite useful when advising our agency’s small-business clients who want an edge. It’s also helpful to know what forms of advertising are outperforming radio — and whether our skills are transferable to those media.

And, Jerry, since you mention “eating vegetarian,” I will admit to eating a lot of vegetarians — mainly the leanest parts of cows, chickens and pigs. The occasional lamb. All supplemented with fresh vegetables. No complex carbs. This has given me back quite an edge. Last year, my wife did a triathlon and effectively guilted me into doing it with her this year. (Last year, I was her support crew and sat at the side of the road, toasting her with a Bloody Mary.) At the end of January, I went on the South Beach Diet. It’s painfully simple. I’ve lost about 22 pounds. I’ve gone from barely being able to run 2 miles to running 9 miles comfortably. I run up a lot of brutally long, steep hills that would’ve killed me six months ago. I’m swimming a half mile to a mile a week. And it’s become easier to park what remains of my fat butt here at the computer for hours on end, creating advertising for Slow Burn’s faithful clients. I heartily recommend both South Beach (the diet, not the town) and the kind of well-rounded training regimen a triathlon requires. It’s making both work and play a lot easier and more fun here at 8,000 feet.

Buzz Calhoun [BuzzCalhoun[at]clearchannel.com], KNFX-FM, Bryan, Texas: To keep my edge, I read... a lot! Here are some books I feel you MUST consume as soon as possible: “The Chaos Scenario” by Bob Garfield. “Peterman Rides Again” by John Peterman. “How Did You Do It Truett” by S. Truett Cathy. “Da Vinci And The 40 Answers” by Mark L. Fox. “Andrew Carnegie” by David Nasaw. “Think And Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. “The Outsider” by Colin Wilson. “Big Russ and Me” by Tim Russert. “Destinae” by Roy H. Williams. There are others but this should get you started.

Chuck Blore [bloregroup[at]aol.com]: To answer your question Jerry, other than reading RAP, probably not doing too much to keep the ‘edge’. However, what I do seem to do two or three times a year is invent a new format and write it up in as much detail as I can create at that moment of inspiration. Then I go back and critique it a couple of days later... sometimes it stands up pretty well and others it’s more like, ‘what were where you thinking... or smoking?’ Still, I compliment myself at how bright I am and then go back to retirement until my next brainstorm. Thanks for asking.