by Trent Rentsch
Knowing full well that I sound my age, I’d like to point out that kids starting out in radio production have it a lot easier these days. It’s more than the vast improvement in the quality of equipment available in even the most frugal facilities, it’s also the amount of material available: music beds, sound effects, soft and hardware synthesizers, drop libraries, voice trade groups… it’s astounding how many options are available.
Equally astounding is the depth of tutorial information one can choose to absorb on the internet: tips on everything radio production, from writing to voiceover to EQ to sound effect replication to, well, anything a young Creative might want to know. Of course, if you can’t find a tutorial that answers your questions, there are thousands of message boards devoted to all things Radio Creative, filled with helpful, like-minded folk, who are always ready with their opinion, er, answer. Yeah, you kids have it SOOOOOOO easy… or, do you?
The answer isn’t simple. While it’s true that all these options coupled with all the information about the “right way” to assemble them, has meant a marked improvement in the overall quality of radio Creative, it’s also true that a certain sameness of sound has slowly taken over. This leads to imaging and commercials that have an “expected sound,” Creativity be damned. Of course, I’m not talking about YOUR work; I’ll leave you to the finger pointing.
The point is, we may have more options and more information than ever before, but we might be stuck in a rut. I know I am. Between my studios at home and at work, I am playing with 4 separate DAWs, each with countless audio effect and synthesizer plug-ins. I have thousands of music beds at my fingertips, and have probably collected hundreds of thousands of sound effects, movie drops, loops, and other assorted noise. Yet, when it’s time to really get down to the business of Creative, I always turn to one particular DAW, a specific handful of plug-ins, certain “go-to” music beds, and all the “right” sound effects. Yeah, I may spin the ball on a different axis each time, but I find that my list of go-to tools (despite my endless bag of tricks) is pretty short.
It took an orphan music bed to make me realize just how limited I had become. You know the one, the bed you’ve passed by about 200 times this past week, while looking for the “right bed.” I had listened to the opening chord of that bed countless times over the past few years, always moving on after the first few seconds because the opening just wasn’t “strong enough.” Last week was no different… but what was different was that the text chime went off on my phone as I was listening, distracting me, and for the first time, I listened to the first 10 seconds of the track… and was blown away by the transition the music made! There it was, the magic track I was looking for, over-looked for years, simply because it was so easy to quickly move on to something else, rather than giving the bed a chance.
The truth? I was limiting my Creative with limitless resources, most of which were so easy to abandon as useless when there’s always another track… and another… and, another. I realized that I was actually being less Creative than I was years ago, when I had to make do with what little I had available. Interesting paradox.
I decided it’s time to embrace the “orphans,” and find them a home. Sometimes, it might take some Creative thought to find the right place, but, oh yeah, we ARE Creative. Who else is going to do it?
With that thought in mind, Welcome to the First Annual Audio Adoption Contest. Here how it works: there are 3 orphan sound elements on the RAP website this month: a music loop, a sound effect, and a stupid audio drop [Right Click to DOWNLOAD]. (I’ll warn you now, none of them are pretty). Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to take these elements, and make them work Creatively and effectively in a piece of production. It can be a spot or a promo, as long or short as you’d like. Add whatever copy and additional elements you’d like, as long as you use these three elements. When you’ve finished your Creation, please send it to me at
Entries will be posted on next month’s RAP Soundstage. I'll pick and announce a winner in the July issue. The winner will receive a $50 gift card, which you must use to buy something creative. You'll get some cool prizes from the good people at FirstCom including a nice jacket and a solar cell phone charger. You'll get a Gold RAP Membership for a year (or an extension if you already have one), and you'll also get an autographed copy of my CD, “The Sankey Directive,” (sure to become an orphan in your music collection).
So, there you go. To those of you who take on the challenge, good luck, but even if you don’t, think twice about all that potential you blow by every day. You’ve got it all… all you have to do is use it.
Trent Creates words, voices, audio and music. His professional home is Krash Creative Solutions. You can contact him at: