"...And Make It Real Creative!": The Creative Tap Room: First Round

and-make-it-real-creative-logo-3By Trent Rentsch

It’s probably been 20 years ago now, and although I can’t remember a word I said, I still see that cold, disinterested look in her eyes. Frankly, it was her fault. We were having one of those drunken “WOW, what a great book” parties for the station at some local watering hole, when this Sales Rep staggered over to me and asked THEE question… “Wherez all thozzzeh GRRRRRREAT Creative kinda idea’zzzz yerz come frum?” I, being nearer to under the table than she was, began to tell her. As I rambled on, her smile slowly faded, her head began to tilt, and then came that glazed look in her eyes…

I went cold turkey after that night. No, not from drinking, God forbid! What I gave up was answering any questions about where my Creativity comes from, because I realized that the average person really doesn’t want to know.

On the other hand, fellow Creatives never tire of hearing where others think their Creativity comes from. Personally, I have a lot of friends all over the world that I’d love to get together around one big bar and pose the question. So, why not...

The first guest to pull up a bar stool is my dear wife, Lori Rentsch. Being a man of carefully honed husband survival skills, we won’t discuss how long she has been the Production Director of WRAL FM in Raleigh, NC. Let’s just say, she’s been there, done that, and has some mighty impressive Creative chops. After she takes a thoughtful sip of her Chardonnay, she says…

“When it comes to radio Creative, it has to start with the client and what message they want to convey. I will beg, borrow or steal info from the sales rep, the client themselves, their website, or go there in person. 

After the gathering process is the narrowing down process. What is the ONE main message that this client wants/needs to get across? Once that is figured out, then the brain-storming can begin. With others, or within my own head. Whatever works at the time! I believe in Creativity that makes sense for the client, not Creativity just for the sake of it.”

Next in the door is my “Little Brutha from another Mutha,” Tommie Lee. A veteran of the radio trenches, he recently became another corporate radio casualty, as his morning show was disbanded in favor of something syndicated. Sadly, this proved that the most talented, Creative guy in the room doesn’t always get his due. It is coming, however, as his first novel is on the threshold of landing in your local Borders (details at whereisdavidprast.com). He accepts the glass of 15 year old single malt I offer him, and says…

“My creativity comes, generally, from two very different sources: Nature, and Thievery.

In the first case, I notice something that catches my attention, even if only for a minute. A dream I remember in detail. A spot on a map I’ve never noticed before. A homeless guy talking to himself before dumping a lot of birdseed on a tree stump (saw this last night)... something. My brain starts to wrap around the new info: why did I pay attention to it? What makes it special? What could have led up to it? What happens next if I was controlling the person like a marionette? And notes go in the little Moleskine I always carry. 

Maybe they get used, maybe not. In the second case, someone else’s work just absolutely pulls me in. I start to wonder how they got there with the basic pieces they had in front of them, how the story or the situation unfolded. What would I do different? And (eventually) what similar situation can I create that might or might not connect with someone, using an entirely new scenario. I have folders and folders of these. No one’s read them. Pieces of some get used in other projects. My novel started as an idea that I worked up from a single frame of a comic book with no words on it. The picture just grabbed me.”

Suddenly, Dad walks in. Not my Father by birth, mind you, but a man who has become a spiritual Dad to many radio Creatives. You know him… that striking gentleman knocking back a ration of rum is none other than Andrew Frame, another radio and writing Brutha, whose words appear here in RAP from time to time. Andrew gave up his commission some years ago in day to day radio, to chart his own course in audio production and words with his lovely bride Brandi at his side (find them at bafsoundworks.com). Smart guy… when he talks, you really should listen…

“My nature is to be giving. And what I get in return is a smile. So, I would say my “creative source” is simply a search for that smile. The world is a beautiful place. Too many people feel they have to have possessions to be happy. They forgot how to smile from inside, from love and satisfaction, and not having the newest widget. At my age, I have a fair amount of life experience to draw from. Divorced and remarried. Three grown children, a toddler, gobs of cats. A dog. Work-from-home. No cable or satellite TV, lots of PBS and books. My wife is brilliant; my producers guild is a sharp tribe. We have a local country diner that is better than any sitcom. Even my barber is right out of Mayberry. It’s great. If I can take anything and craft it into something that will make someone have a better day, have a genuine smile from inside, I’ve done what I set out to do.”

And with that, we find all of our glasses mysteriously empty. As we motion to our Bartender for another round, the door bursts open and we see… well, that’s just going to have to wait until next month. But trust me, with the Creatives still to arrive; you’re going to want to stay till last call!

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