By Trent Rentsch
My daughter presented me with an early Christmas present a couple of weeks ago. My Grandson, Murray Jae, has joined the party, and… uhm… I’m a Grandfather. An excited Grandfather, mind you, but still… a Grandfather.
The timing is strangely appropriate to me. This column marks 20 years I’ve been writing this column. There’s a certain feeling of accomplishment in that, but still… 20 years. It’s entirely possible that some of you reading these words hadn’t joined the party when I started. That feels… how? Odd is the word that comes the closest.
When I started this column, I never imagined I’d still be cranking one out every month for two decades, any more than I suspected that my baby girl would have a baby of her own someday. Of course, I “knew” that it was possible that I’d get my Grandpa card at some point, but it seemed a thousand years away. And as far as the column went, honestly, it’s been month to month for me… usually having a meltdown at the last possible second, certain that I had nothing left to say, but still somehow wrangling 800 to 1000 words in some order that resembled a column. It honestly never occurred to me that I’d get this far… I was too worried about “the next one” to consider longevity.
So, here I am, a man old enough to be a Grandfather, still blathering on about “Creative” after 20 years. I considered writing a “what-I-will-tell-my-Grandson-about-radio” piece, but honestly, that seems a bit fatalistic for the industry. While it will continue to evolve, I do believe that radio will be alive and well as Murray grows up, and any of my ranting about “the good old days” of radio would be painfully boring to a child who will probably find iPads old fashioned by the time he becomes a teenager. Radio will be a very different experience for Murray, but he’ll know it… and won’t need some crazy old man ranting on about cart machines and splice tape and cue burn on track 4, disc 1 of the holiday music LP.
I know that this is all terribly personal, and I appreciate you indulging me. Of course, over the years, I haven’t given you much choice but to indulge me, have I? I’ve shared a lot about myself and my life… maybe too much at times. Births, deaths, moves, divorce, new romance and marriage, joy and pain… they’ve all been the window dressings I’ve used to explain what I’ve learned about the Creative process over the years. For the most part, it’s been deliberate, and not simply as a “write what you know” exercise. Because I do believe that being a Creative is not a 9 to 5 job, no matter how one’s day is packaged. It is who you are, not what you do… it’s always a part of your life, and your life is always a part of it, and when writing about one, neither should be ignored.
I’ve learned so much writing this column, and have done my best to share it all with you. Funny, when “Andy Capp” started writing this column, he thought he already knew a lot, but about the time I gave up my mask and became, ah, me, I had realized how little I did know, and to this day I’m still scrambling to fill in the gaps. And that may be the most important lesson I’ve learned… you quit learning, you quit growing. I don’t care if it’s a new setting in Pro Tools or a different way to archive your audio projects, learning something new every day keeps the process fresh, and your skills sharp.
Lord, this all sounds like a swan song! Alas for you, it’s not. I was talking myself into hanging it up earlier in the year, ready to listen to the panicked little voice in the back of my head, screaming that the well had finally gone dry. Then, a funny thing happened. As the time grew closer, I got to thinking about Murray (not that I knew his name yet… my daughter was pretty tight-lipped until his birth day). I imagined the subject of the column coming up at some point, and this adorable, wide-eyed child looking up and asking me, “Grandpa, why did you quit?” I thought about all the justifications I might give him… “It’s a young man’s game,” “I ran out of things to say,” “I wasn’t Creative as I once was,” on and on. As I thought about it, they all began to sound like silly excuses… I still write, produce and voice radio work daily, I’m still learning and growing, I still have new things to share… and age really is just a number (those of you who hadn’t joined the party when I started writing are just going to have to trust me on that).
So, we move onto year 21. We have the preliminaries out of the way, and the real work can begin… because radio DOES have a future, and my Grandson’s generation deserves to grow up listening to great radio.
I might be a Grandpa now, but I’m not ready to chase you off my lawn yet… and I hope you feel the same.