Why is there so much production in our podcast?
When I was a boy every Christmas holiday season, my father did something magical. It had an effect on me that I STILL carry around with me like magical baggage. Each season my father
brought home a record player from his work to our house along with 2-3 records of Henry Morgan retelling a stories. On a budget, our family did not own a record player or turntable to listen to records at this time, So when my father sat the record player on the mantle and plugged it in, my senses went into overdrive.
Morgan was an American humorist, and an often self-deprecating satirist, He had an unsteady cadence when he spoke and did multiple characters without changing his voice very much at all.
As each record played a story, I listened. I heard colorful imagery which painted scenes. Subtle sounds of the street or a jackhammer or cars filled the gaps of speech. As Henry Morgan spoke, my brain told me that I
was really there, and this was happening. I listened to these 2 records over and over, but not because of the stories, but rather the magical imagery painted by with Morgan's speaking voice, subtle ambiant music and sound effects. The listener even got to hear Morgan's subconscious thoughts. This was just a small part of each holiday season, but this small part stayed with me, deep inside my heart.
How do I know it stayed with me?
I had a yearning to write since I was about 8 years old. My parents were encouragers of the highest magnitude. So I was writing, journaling, learning humor, and discovering better ways to communicate my messages into fuller fleshed-out short stories. This took place after my experiences listening to Henry Morgan retell humorous contemporary stories. I felt the need to try and write, retell and see if I could muster up all the feeling, laughter and visual imagery just as Henry Morgan had done. I wrote. I failed. I came close. There were too many times I went for the laugh instead of better content. The times I succeeded, I payed close attention. It was the successful pieces I wrote, that I came back to revisit. I needed to know how & why these writings elicited emotions and laughter.
Jump ahead to around 2004... Now an adult with a wife & 2 children, I purchased a large SUV, a GMC Envoy. Our family plan was that we would travel the states during the summers in our extended cab vehicle. This SUV had a perk built in to the radio itself. It was a free subscription radio service called Satellite Radio. Initiating Satellite Radio soon had me finding all the niche channels. Sports, Politics, News, all types of Music and Talk. The channel I found almost immediately was a channel called Radio Classics, which ran old radio shows recorded many years prior to my birth. What caught my attention? After MANY years, I heard Henry Morgan's witty and sometimes sarcastic voice, in a show called "On the Corner." There was that deep un-cadenced rich tenor once again! Memories of holidays past, nostalgia and the simpler days of my childhood flooded my brain.
I listened to Radio Classics almost exclusively. It became a passion; from Jack Benny to The Shadow, from Burns and Allen to The Whistler, each radio show painted the images once again.
Whether comedy or drama, this was a golden age of early technological communication. The production values were amazing. I always liked the feeling that as a listener, I was there too. Kind of like the ol' "fly on the wall" experience. All I can tell you, is that I began to realize that my absence from writing had gone on too long. These radio programs kind of realigned my creative purpose. My mind came alive! I began to write daily once again. Without understanding why, I missed writing.
When you listen to our current podcast, "Sometimes I Miss the Show" you will see me emulate that production style and broad visual imagery learned way back at age 8.
But let's add one more inspirer, Clay Greager. (PODCAST #1 Your Last Flight Out) On a vacation in Key West, Florida I came upon an ex-Army veteran who had a lifetime of stories and inspiration. He ran a small business on Greene St. across from the legendary cash cow Sloppy Joes. (I love Sloppy Joes). True. Almost 15 years my senior, Clay self published booklets, books, and always had the next thought, idea or poem at the ready. As an adult I have been known to keep pace conversationally with most people I meet, but from the day I met him, Clay talked and I listened. It was obvious that I was in the presence of a man with knowledge and a lifetime of mentors which had made him a success with writing and in business. Governors, politicians, four star generals and literary agents all called him their friend. He spoke of the day to day as well as of his life in his own brief concise short story form. These stories all led to the listener having to make a choice, apply it to their own life or determine their own conclusion. It was maddening,
because it was so addicting. Clay is still my golden goose. To this day he writes and is part of a multimillion dollar project enveloping in Key West.
How could I NOT be effected by Clay? I loved & still love this once in a lifetime connection. His perspective to any scenario was usually much different than mine. He is different. Good different. Example: Once when I was shooting a serious documentary in Key West, I stopped by Clay's shop. He asked me about the content and sequencing of the documentary shoot. Without going into detail, I will tell you that it involved a couple who had been traveling the United States committing sly cons and acquiring large sums of money. One spouse did the conning, the other was totally unaware. There was heavy gaslighting. I always considered this documentary to be just one murder short of a Dateline episode. The content was very detailed, and my challenge was to tell the story without overexplaining. Clay listened and began to smile. Then he laughed and said, "Hey, man this is a comedy, not a documentary. You have all these genius investors and public figures not seeing what's directly in front of them, and then they give their money away blindly. That kind of ignorance is impossible. THIS IS A COMEDY!
At first I dismissed Clay's comment. He didn't know what I knew, I knew all the facts. As time has passed, 6 years, I realize now that Clay was right. I rewrote it, and it plays out as a really sharp piece of humor with laughs. Kind of an Inspector Clouseau meets the cast of Green Acres.
Sometimes you're just too close to something to see its true potential destination and proper pathos. By the way, working in a partnership of two is healthy, sometimes competitive, sometimes not. Respect for one another's talents is primary. (See Lennon & McCartney)
When I don't write, I miss it TERRIBLY. Writing, researching and producing video content to accompany screenplays, documentaries and short stories has been my life's passion. I felt it back at age 8.
Try to trace your passion back to where it began. Whether happy or sad, you'll find an amazing journey.
This the theme of our most recent podcast "Sometimes I Miss the Show." Give it a listen. It may touch your heart, make you laugh and may even help you remember your life's journey.
Thanks to Henry Morgan, Radio Classics, and Clay Greager among many, who sparked a flame in this midwestern boy!
My old friend... Won't you think about me every now and then?