Need ideas? Techniques? Inspiration? Entertainment?
Go to your audio library. You know, that reference library of sounds, commercials, talent tapes, radio shows, humor and audio theatre that you’ve been collecting over the years?
It may be a completely organized, categorized and cross-indexed digital audio folder or just a big box of outdated media stacked on a shelf, but it’s one of your main sources of writer’s block breakers.
Let’s see, here are episodes from the BBC’s Goon Show, some stuff by Flanders and Swan, of course Monty Python. Oh look, some cuts from Chickenman, and tons of recordings of the old radio dramas, mysteries, comedy, adventure shows, variety shows, serials, soap operas.
Aha! Here’s that old Lord Buckley record, right next to some of Doctor Who, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and comedy greats like Shelly Berman, Bob Newhart, Bill Cosby, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Wright, Jeff Foxworthy…boy, aren’t you glad you kept these things?
Of course you are! You’re a radio writer. You go here to refresh your ears. Now you make notes as you listen. You find applications for each style of delivery. It’s a good place to learn timing, techniques, and fresh approaches to audio storytelling.
Oh, sometimes you wish you had all the Firesign Theatre, the best of Stan Freberg, the National Lampoon Radio Hour, Bob & Ray, Jean Shepherd’s radio shows, Stiller & Meara, and Nichols & May. No problem. Most of this is now available on CD and much of it is waiting for you at your local public library.
By now you probably read Audiofile regularly and get the catalogs from the ZBS Foundation, Lodestone, Audio Partners and Radio Works from Sue Media. You’ve collected gems from regional audio theatre companies like Great Northern Audio and the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company.
You keep all this next to your samples from advertising award shows like the Radio Mercury, CLIO’s, IBA, and maybe even some regional award shows, as well as recordings you’ve gotten from the RAB.
And you know that if you ever wanted to replenish your stash of ear candy, you could just go to the web, click on your favorite search engine and check out general categories like storytellers, old time radio, audio theatre, radio commercials or any of the names you might find in an article on building an audio reference library.
You know that even listening to a sample from any of these genres for a few minutes can be enough to put you in a different space where you can find interpolations that will spark the imaginations of the audience who hears the commercials you’ve created.