Not all men are creative equal (see what I did there?)
Sean Craig Murphy is the owner of the Australian Radio School and Mix 102.3’s Drive Announcer in Adelaide.
He’s had a long and successful career in radio and knows a thing or two about being creative.
Sean recently chatted to Spotd and gave a few tips you might find useful.
Saying everyone is creative is like saying everyone can run.
They can, but the difference on the track between Usain Bolt and you and me is pretty massive isn’t it? And no matter how much training we do we’re not going to catch up are we? So let’s forget about the gold medal and focus on the Silver. Because sometimes a small amount of creativity at the right time is just enough to set you apart from the rest of the pack.
When I first started in radio 30 years ago I was forced to be creative because I had such a shit voice. (Believe me in the 80s that was a problem!) I had to do things differently on air to hide the fact that I sounded like Minnie Mouse sucking on helium. In the next three decades I did some pretty good stuff. However it was the stomach churning, cringeful gear that I learnt the most from. So, here for your juice inducing creative pleasure are three tips for music announcers that’ll make me sound like a farm house poultry serial killer.
DON’T OVER EGG.
Having internet information instantly at our fingertips is good and bad when it comes to creativity. Good because there are no excuses when it comes to being inspired to do things differently. Bad because it’s rare that you’ll come up with anything remotely resembling “original creativity”. The best way to do that is to INCUBATE. Turn off all devices. Not just for a few minutes but for at least half an hour to an hour.
My way of incubating is by setting the alarm half an hour before I need to get up in the morning. Then, instead of reaching for the phone to check Facebook, I grab a pad and pen and lie in bed thinking about the creative challenge I need to solve. First thing in the morning is perfect for me because my mind is like a blank canvas then. Whatever works for you do it; Put a waterproof whiteboard in the shower. Use a Floatation tank. Meditate.
Whatever. Don’t hesitate. Incubate.
My current PD at MIX, Chris Cotton, is constantly telling me to stop “over egging”. That, as I’ve discovered is where you get a little cocky after doing a nice little creative piece on air and instead of getting out on that high you decide to just add that “bonus” bit of creativity. I mean that’s what the listener wants right? Wrong. Music radio isn’t like stand-up comedy where they’re hanging off every word you’re saying. It’s a passive medium. When they’re listening to you they’re probably doing something else at the same time. Which means that if they just happen to catch that wonderful turn of phrase that you spent hours crafting, you’ll need to at least give them a few seconds to digest its beauty before you dazzle them with more of your creativity.
Which segues perfectly into KILLING YOUR BABIES. This simply means having the balls/ovaries to edit out that wonderful wordplay or awesome gag that you’re so proud of if the break is too long or you’ve broken the golden rule of radio. ONE. THOUGHT. PER BREAK. Take a deep breath and kill that baby that you lovingly brought into this world.
Just file it.
Because I’m sure there’ll be a time you’ll be able to give it centre stage in one of the 20,000 talk breaks you have in the rest of your radio career!