“… And Make it Real Creative!”: The Long Good-bye 1/6: The Beginning of the End

June, 1993. David Jay was rocking WIOQ-FM as APD/Creative Services Director. The SPX-990 from Yamaha was the hot new digital multi-effects processor. And some kid from South Dakota wrote his first column for Radio And Production. I know all of these things because I dug through my keepsakes tonight and found that first copy of RAP that held my words.

AMIRC 1993 400pxI shared that issue with Mark Margulies and his “Superman Myth of Radio Copy.” Personal radio hero and later boss & friend, John Dodge, offered part 2 of his series, “Freelancing For Fun & Profit.” Flip Michaels had sound advice about choosing mics in his “Cheat Sheet.” DAT was still state-of-the art, a company called Ensoniq had released a performance/composition synthesizer, packed with a massive 6 megs of 16-bit memory (a bargain at $2,595), and Audiodyne was advertising their cart re-building service… don’t forget to ask about their KILLER cassette prices!

Speaking of cassettes, “The Cassette” featured two (count ‘em, TWO) sides of wonderful production! As David Jay was the subject of the Interview, Side A began with a montage of his best work, followed by an “Earth Day” piece produced by Holly Buchanan from WMXB-FM in Richmond (Holly ended up with her own Interview, and offered a great production piece for a crazy concept I had for a column some time later). Both sides included work from Sterling Tarrant, who has always been one of my favorite radio writer/producers. I recall that getting a piece on “The Cassette” felt like winning a Grammy, a Tony, and an Oscar all rolled into one. One just had to remember when submitting that tapes were preferred on reel-to-reel at 7.5 or 15ips, heads out.

 Yes, I’ve been here awhile. The past few months have been the most significant break I’ve taken in my nearly 25-year run. The break wasn’t planned, it simply happened. However, as the gap of time since my last column grew wider, I began to wonder if it was simply because I was busy, or if there was something more going on. After all, I had managed to knock out columns over the years while under some of the craziest pressure one can imagine (or maybe you can. You Create for radio, after all). Then, today, I remembered the email and everything made sense.

Before I go any further, I want to publicly thank Jerry Vigil. Radio owes him a massive thanks, frankly. Simply stringing 750-1000 words together for one column has nearly broken me sometimes. I can only imagine what Jerry has gone through, putting out a quality magazine, month after month, year after year. I have had the luxury of “taking a mental health month” from time to time; Jerry hasn’t had that luxury. Because of his efforts, radio producers have had a voice, a sense of community. If Radio And Production didn’t exist, radio production would have never evolved at the rate it has over the years of its publication. Of course, he’d probably tell me that I’m full of shit. Tough, Buddy. I double-dog dare you to publish this paragraph, then find anyone who would argue with me. For my part, he’s allowed me to chronicle my own radio journey, warts and all, and blather on about my crazy theories on Creativity, all the while putting up with my feeble excuses for needing “just another day or two” past deadline, over and over. A less patient Editor would’ve told me to hit the road years ago. What a wonderful gift Jerry has given me, and what a supportive friend he has been. Thank you, thank you, a million times!

Now, about that email. We were going back and forth about the state of radio in a string of emails a few years ago. I asked him if he had thought about throwing in the towel. He asked me the same thing (not really giving me an answer, as I recall). I told him that 25 years was coming up in the future (a future that snuck up on me all too fast), and that seemed like a good time to hang up the column. Hmmmm.

It’s not lost on me that some of the people reading Radio And Production these days weren’t born in June of 1994. You might not have held a physical copy of the magazine in your hands… hell, you probably wondered what all that Cassette business was about. Radio is very different now, and so am I. I never thought I’d be here, but it’s time to pass the torch.

Still, it will be a long good-bye. I’ve decided to re-visit some old topics, give the old man’s current spin on them, and bore you all with some “sage advice” from someone who has been in the trenches for over 3 decades now. Because I’m still there, producing imaging and commercials, and if the universe is kind, I’ll be doing it till I drop. Radio is one of my happy places, I believe in it, and I believe in its future. So, if you’d be so kind, let me write a few more love letters to it in the coming months, then I’ll shut up. Maybe…

Trent creates. His professional home is Heart+Hammer. trentrentsch@gmail.com.

Comments (1)

  1. Alan Peterson

Totally with you, mate. I started my Radio World column "From the Trenches / The World According to ARP" in mid-1989 and did my best to maintain topics of interest until 2004 when it abruptly ended due to illness. I'm OK now, but recognize that that was a fast 15 years!

Be careful about that "old man spin" of which you speak. I'm glad my ride ended before I became one of those angry ol' bastids I detested so much on my way up -- the ones who wished for the return of cart machines and vinyl, and convinced themselves that FM radio was in the developmental stage. I'm 55+, and still mesmerized by the changes and tech improvements I see every day.

If there's one thing I can ask of you, its that you not beat me to the publisher with the manuscript for your own "my life in radio" book. I'm still working on mine.

Happy times ahead, pardner.

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