by Andy Capp
In a move that some of you may feel is no great change for me, I've decided not to write about radio production this month. So many great columns have been written about the subject in this magazine over the years by so many writers more knowledgeable and clever than I, it almost seems tragic that I try any more. So, that's it. I'm done writing about radio production! Instead, I'd like to write a few words about Anthony Newley.
You remember Anthony Newley, right? Played Dr. Doolittle's best friend in the movie of the same name? Irish tenor, great voice (okay, at five when the movie came out, I thought he had a great voice...), gave me my first Irish dialect lessons via the big screen. It was Mr. Newley's performance in Dr. Doolittle that jump started my desire to be an actor, which probably explains the level of success I achieved in the theater (maybe if I had used Rex Harrison as a role model instead...).
The years went by. I went from acting out movie soundtracks in my room to actually spending time on the stage, becoming a theater major in college before marriage and radio. I was quite sure that I would become an actor; sixteen years ago there was no question. Looking back, I have no regrets. Those two loves that led me away from the stage have been very, very good to me. Still, I suppose that my oftentimes physical performance in the voice booth could gain me the title of "Frustrated Actor."
I know of very few people in the broadcast industry who aren't a frustrated something. Yes, there are those who have always wanted to do radio and have had their dream of a lifetime come true, but so many others would really like to be actors-writers-directors-weather anchors-(insert your frustration here). Maybe it's because there are so many creative types in our niche, but I find this especially true of production people (okay, this MIGHT have some relevance to production types).
I've met producers who have come from every conceivable background, from theater and music to premed and psychology. Somehow, whether by choice or quirk of fate, these producers have found themselves taking a direction they never expected, in an industry where much of what they knew before is useful, if not in its original form. I want to stress that there's nothing wrong with that. For all the complaining about the workload and hours, this is a great little gig we have here. Still, some dreams never die and can turn into a nightmare if a person is plagued by "what ifs."
Maybe you wanted to be a rock and roll star. Maybe you wanted to produce a rock and roll band. Perhaps you wanted to write the great American novel. Perhaps you want to write Rocky 14 for Sly. Whatever your dream is, if it's something you really, really want to do, I have a way for you to make it happen. Now I guess you could call this another one of those perks for being a member of Radio and Production, because, although I'm going to offer this secret for only $39.95 on late night TV across the country soon, you're going to get it here first, absolutely free! If what you're doing right now is not what you really dream of, here's what to do: Work at your dream!
Obvious? Sure it is! Simple? You bet, although you wouldn't know it, few people as there are doing it. It isn't that people don't know what they want. On the contrary, break-rooms across the country are filled with conversations about what people want. The problem is, the conversation is also filled with reasons why they can't make their dreams happen. When I was a kid, a family friend would come to my Great Grandmother's house for coffee. She would complain that she needed to start losing weight...and then punctuate the words by reaching for another jelly donut as if to say, "...if there weren't always pastries available." A good look at most excuses for not pursuing a dream shows them to be equally silly.
Some people think they need permission to work on a dream. Eight or nine years ago I was one of those people, and I was lucky enough to have a GM who understood that and empowered me to REALLY become a Production Director. Until his stamp of approval, I didn't really believe I had it in me. If you're one of these people, consider this the green light. Okay, great, work on your dream!
"That's great, Mr. Know-it-all, work on your dream. And JUST HOW DO I START?!" It depends on what you want to do. If you want to write, get out a pen and some paper and write. If you want to break into the voice-over business, practice voices and put together a demo tape and send it out. If you want to move up to a bigger market in radio, send out tapes to bigger markets. Chances are, if you have a dream, you know what you need to do to achieve it. The trick is to take the time to DO IT! Like the story about the man who prayed over and over to win the lottery and never did to his dying day. In heaven he complained to the Almighty, who smiled and said, "But my son, you never bought a ticket."
If you have a dream, you can work on it without sacrificing the life you're living right now, despite what that little voice inside your head is screaming at you. No matter how busy you are, there's a half hour somewhere in every day that you can call your own. Claim it for your dream. It's amazing how much closer you can be to making a dream a reality after just a few weeks of working toward it.
One word of warning: people will try to be your "friend" and find all sorts of ways to keep you from working toward your goal, to "save you from yourself." Ignore them; it's your dream, not theirs. These are the same people who will be the first to say that they knew you when!
Whether you want to be the next Dick Orkin in the radio industry of the Best New Artist at the Grammys some day, you can do it if you really want it and work at it. Speaking of which, I've heard rumors of a remake of Dr. Doolittle....