We all get to a point in our lives and careers where it's time to give back. You may have heard me mention I coach other morning shows around the country, helping them to figure out roles and chemistry, when to talk and when to listen. How to react and how to be real on the radio.
I was asked to write a column for radio people, so I wrote about something that has always come naturally to me: Creativity. Some people are natural musicians or athletes or painters, I just happen to be good at creating ideas for radio. You don't know this but there are times on our show where I have an idea for someone else on the show, so I give it to them and tell them, "Say on the radio this is your idea. It would be better coming from you than from me."
- You might not have a job where creativity is important. A dentist might not have too many opportunities for creativity. But we all need to be creative sometimes! Maybe you need ideas for what to do when your family comes to visit. Or a game to play on a car ride. Your creativity kicks in when you're least expecting it!
- Maybe you say, "But I'm not creative." Actually, you are, you just haven't tried the right way to create ideas. Sitting and thinking and concentrating sometimes is the worst way to come up with ideas. I always cringe when I see a character in a movie who needs a fast solution to save themselves and they say, "Think! Come on dammit, THINK!" No way would that ever work in real life because your brain is pre-occupied with telling yourself to think! It just doesn't work that way!
So here's my article that was published around the radio industry this past week. I hope you enjoy it!
Remember, it's written for radio people, so there are some radio references in here.
(By Dave Ryan) I haven’t been doing morning radio for this long solely because of my movie-star looks and sensual baritone voice. Nope, I’ve been able to keep my job because I come up with stuff.
I’ve come up with stuff for as long as I’ve been in radio and it’s honestly one of the pure joys of doing what we do. Sure, the radio show is a lot of fun, but there’s a tangible satisfaction in taking an idea from just a little “pop” in my mind to a bit I’m really proud of and (hopefully) the listeners will love.
I think it was a compliment when Falen from my show said, “If someone opened the top of your head and looked inside, it would look like someone was spray-sh$!ting.”
She’s all class.
Since you’re still in radio and since you’re taking time to read this, I’m gonna’ guess you are pretty good at what you do. And furthermore, I’m going to suppose you’re pretty creative.
Sidebar: not everyone who’s successful in radio is creative. They have a different gift; they’re friendly and fun to be around. And a lucky few are both tons of fun and creative.
I can’t help you be more fun. On Saturday nights I have one glass of wine and pass out on the couch watching Dateline NBC. BUT I can help you be more creative. Here are some tips.
- Try. There are too many people who say, “I’m not creative.” Actually, they just need a little practice. I know of radio people whose only source of content is other radio shows. Unbelievably, I had a producer who was taught that “Show Prep” meant looking at Bert or Mojo’s website to steal content.
- So, start with some easy stuff; maybe come up with some phone topics. Or write a few jokes like you hear on The Tonight Show. Write a bad rap song about something going on in your city. You don’t even have to use this stuff on the air, just try. No one will care if it sucks if you’re the only one who hears it.
- Have a life. I’ve said this for years and it really is important. I know it’s super easy and very tempting to spend a lot of time on the couch bingeing “Yellowstone,” but the best creative sparks come from experiencing a lot of different things. Maybe you don’t want to take an improv class, but what if you went to an improv show? Or learned how to play guitar? Or took snowboarding lessons? Or even tried a new recipe? I truly believe the more experiences you can pack into your brain, the more tools and materials you have when you need to build ideas.
- Watch old TV shows and old movies. If you’ve never seen the hilarity that was “Match Game” from the 70s you’re missing out on some seriously great comedy. YouTube it. Heck, you could probably lift an idea for Second Date Update from a 70s rom-com.
- Talk to people. Duh. If your cousin tells you the cleaning lady who worked in his neighborhood was sleeping with neighborhood dads and one of them got her pregnant, you’ve got a great radio story! And yes, this really happened in my cousin’s neighborhood! Take their stories to the radio. And if you can’t because they don’t want you to embarrass them, switch up the details just enough and use it.
- Practice. Yes, this is a lot like Try. But just like learning Spanish on Babbel, you’re not going to be fluent after one attempt. Trying is a great start. Staying with it until you start to see some results is even better.