By Trent Rentsch
I started writing for RAP in 1994. At the time I was, what, 33? As of this month, I am... ah, hell. How did THAT happen? I mean, I look in the mirror and I don’t see it. Of course, to be fair, I don’t see as well as I once did...
I consider myself lucky, still finding work in Creative media, especially when the world considers youth the ideal. It wasn’t like that when I was a kid, but then, things change. I see many of my contemporaries doing their best to hide their age, in an effort to “remain viable.” I see things differently. I figure that now is as good a time as any to begin to be viable.
Honestly, I was never good with numbers. When this 50 thing began to pop up more frequently in conversation, it really didn’t mean anything to me, and while the Missus will tell you that I’ve been complaining about it, the truth is that I don’t think in terms of “how old I am.” I might sometimes dwell on past missteps, but in my heart I’ve always been more concerned with the next big adventure. If I started adding up the numbers, they could become an excuse, a roadblock, and that’s the last thing I need.
I suppose I could take advantage of the occasion to “impart wisdom learned, oh these many years,” but the only thing that comes near wise that I can share is that I still have one hell of a lot to learn, which I suppose does make me a bit more wise than I was when I was younger. I do have some observations I’d like to make, however, based on “then and now.”
Then, I tried to learn from listening the work of the “old masters,” such as Chuck Blore, Stan Freburg, Dick Orkin, JR Nelson, and others. Now, I find myself learning volumes from the “young bucks,” like Jesse Hayes at SiriusXM, Chadd Pierce at Krash Creative Solutions, and Robb Davidson at Bart Radio (all of whom would deny being young, but they’re not turning 50).
Then, I ran screaming from analog tape the second I got my hands on my first DAW. Now, if my wife would let me, I’d love to get my hands on an old Otari MX-50 for nostalgias sake.
Then, all I wanted was to be a Production Director in New York or LA. Now, nothing makes me happier than enjoying a Creative career wherever my wife is.
Then, a “radio group” might include a handful. Now, it’s generally at least several handfuls of markets.
Then, the “ur” in “Saturday always tripped me up. Now, sigh, it still does.
Then, I laughed about kids who didn’t know McCartney was in a band before Wings. Now, I’m appalled when kids say they’ve never heard of McCartney.
Then, Celebrities avoided bad publicity. Now, Hmmm. Define “bad.”
Then, stereo AM radio seemed like a good idea. Now, do you know ANYONE other than your PD who has an HD radio receiver?
Then, voice-tracked shows were only considered worth running overnight. Now, live show? How novel...
Then, there were 5 or 6 voice-over artists making top dollar doing all of the country’s radio imaging. Now, there are 55,000 voice-over wanna-bes who would do 25 pages a day for 10 bucks.
Then, people wanted to build a career. Now, get your 15 minutes and/or 15 million, and bail.
Then, clients hated and/or threw revision bombs at great Creative. Now, ok, some things never change...
However, a lot has changed, including me. I’m a lot more open to new ideas, new Creative possibilities, and I’m a lot more willing to take risks pursuing goals I once thought were only pipe dreams. I suppose it could be considered a “bucket list philosophy,” and I wouldn’t argue with that. On the other hand, if it simply took time passing to make me quit dreaming and start acting, perhaps that’s just me. And if I was to be completely fair to myself, if we all were, we’d have to admit that we’ve all had plenty of moments in the sun, big and small, that have made life pretty damned sweet already.
Still, here I am today... still learning, still growing, still hunting for that one great Creative opus of my life. How childish. Take THAT, 50!