It’s seems common-place these days to casually utter the phrase ‘follow your passion’. It seems to rear its head just about everywhere. Whether it’s career-related or merely a hobby, we seem to be implored to act as such on an almost continual basis.
I’ve been relatively lucky when it comes to ‘passion’. I was one of those rare birds who knew early on what he wanted to do with his life, at least as far as ‘career’. Being behind the microphone (or ‘in front of’, however you choose to phrase it!) is really all I’ve ever wanted to do as far as a ‘job’. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to realize that passion for several esteemed radio stations. And now I get to stand behind (in front of) a microphone and perform for clients and projects. And I’m appreciative.
Those who know me are also aware that I have another passion: craft beer. While I’ve never been able to formulate this passion in to a full-time job- or career-prospect, I have been able to do a little bit of home-brewing. And between radio jobs, I even worked part-time for a small brewer here in northeast Ohio.
I bring up ‘the world’s greatest beverage’ because of my love for it, but also because of its immense popularity lately. You can’t pop the top off a bottle without worrying about it hitting a new brewery opening up.
Invariably, with a product that takes knowledge, skill, and an intricate dance between science and art, the question of ‘quality’ always emerges. The brewing industry has been dominated by a couple of heavy-hitters, and those macro-producers have been blessed with huge budgets and huge followers. ‘Quantity’ has seemed to have rule the roost.
For me, ‘beer’, as a hobby, and the current state of the industry, has always reminded me of my chosen industry as a career, radio. This, undoubtedly, also leads down the path of ‘voiceover’ and other audio and video content-creation platforms, as well, begging the question: ‘Quality’, or ‘Quantity’?
It’s the philosophy of most companies and enterprises to be able to put themselves in the position to be as big and as successful as possible. Hiring more people, taking on more responsibility, and expanding is a by-product of growth, a by-product of capitalism. This is a good thing…right?
When I was employed by WYHT-FM in Mansfield, Ohio, I’m not sure I worked with too many co-workers who didn’t have their sights set on eventually getting to a larger market. A larger radio market meant more prestige. It meant a bigger stepping-stone to even larger platforms. It usually meant more money, too.
But during that time in Mansfield, I also realized that there were some people with whom I worked who had absolutely no interest in going to a larger market. They were content to use the skills they had in order to help produce the best on-air product that they could. And it was during this time in Mansfield where I realized that ‘bigger’ did not always mean ‘better’.
Our station, Y-105, sounded like a station that could have been in the markets that surrounded us, like Cleveland or Columbus. It could have been in those markets because the people involved were concerned only about quality. It didn’t matter that the city only had 50,000 residents. What mattered is that the station played the right music. It mattered that the production and imaging-values were cared for and changed frequently so that the on-air presentation sounded fresh.
It’s the same with beer. The picture above is of a Double IPA from a small brewery in Millersburg, Ohio. Millersburg is in the heart of Amish country, in the rolling hills and farm-land of east-central Ohio, about 40 minutes south of Akron. Surrounded by working farms, small hand-made furniture stores, and plenty of Amish buggies, Millersburg would be the last place you’d expect to find world-class craft beer. But tiny Millersburg Brewing is an award-winning brewery, producing delicious, consistent libations that have distribution all over northeast Ohio.
I have a passion for craft-beer because I have a passion for things made with the intention of being done well. Talk to a brewer who cares about ‘quality’ over ‘quantity’, and he/she will tell you that the contents inside that can or bottle are the life-blood of their business. And more importantly, those contents say something about that brewer as a business-owner, as an entrepreneur, and as a person. It says, “I care about every ounce of artistry in this can because you care about it.”
I like to think that I feel the same way about what I do for a living. I like to compare it to treasured radio positions in the past, as well as to passionate brewers now. I value those who go the extra yard because I like to think that I do the same thing for my clients. I taste the difference in a well-formulated Scotch ale that has been lovingly cared for in the brewing process, and my hope is that our clients hear the difference after we’ve been involved with their projects. That care makes me go back to the store or to the brewery again, and I hope that that same care keeps our clients coming back, or perhaps even urges them to pass our name on to someone else who might have a need for quality voiceover.
And that’s the thing. You can get ‘quantity’ anywhere. It’s the striving for the ‘quality’ that makes all the difference.