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Ace McKay “Be An Imaging Chaser”

Birthing anything can be grueling. For us as parents, we know too well how it feels to bring a baby into the world and then the joy and chore it is to keep them happy and healthy.

Often times, whether you are a production director or its one of your many jobs to do today, birthing fresh imaging regularly can be creative and joyous, however, what do you do when it
does feel like a chore? I feel that it quickly affects the creativity and the overall sound of what I’m creating when it takes a lot of effort to write. I know for me personally, after doing a 5 hour morning show, I’m on fumes by the time I get around to writing or producing new imaging. I’m too much of a stickler not to create new stuff frequently but always to work ahead so the only deadline I have is my own. So I lean on a few tips that I got from a songwriting mastery course “SongChasers” that helps songwriters stay consistent in their art. I believe Imaging and songwriting are very similar. They both convey emotions, a message and need to be memorable and connect to the audience.

So how do we write when the well dries up?

First, lets address writers block as the reality that its only resistance. We all have multiple hats or multiple stations that need our “equal” attention and the resistance to balance or to clear the clutter so that we can think on what we need to say and new ways to say it. John Lennon says when it comes to songwriting, “Tell the truth and make it rhyme.” I say “tell the
truth and draw the emotion and add bells and whistles.” SongChasers reminds songwriters that “you are what you eat” so to produce great imaging, you have to listen to great imaging or
commercials that speak the truth, convey the emotions that the audience will remember and let it fuel your own production. So don’t chalk it up to writers block as to why your imaging is stale but move the resistance out of the way to make room for it to flow onto the paper.

Secondly, this ties into writing time. Just like songwriters have to be consistent in writing sessions with collaborative teams/partners, I’ve found it helps if I write at the same time daily
or weekly to hold myself accountable and make time for what’s important. Sometimes for me its early before the show, sometimes its after and sometimes its in the car while I wait for my
kids in the carpool. Lightening can strike and its nice to harness a gigawatt from time-to-time but to create your own lightening releases the stress and makes you a better writer.

Lastly, there’s three things I feed off of when I need to create some lightening of my own:

1. Collaborate! Writing with a partner or a team always makes it better. Song partnerships over the years have birthed some amazing songs and imaging can bear the same kind of fruit.

2. Make Pinterest Your Friend! If you already use it for prep or cooking recipes, Great! You have the app so search a holiday or an emotion and see how quickly it just lights that fuse
into your next writing session. For me, it dominos more ideas then I need but then I can trim the mediocre stuff for the best stuff. There are no participation ribbons when it comes
to imaging. Either its great or no one will remember it.

3. God’s word is a spark! As a faith based industry, We use it daily to sharpen our irons of faith; why not let it sharpen the irons of imaging for our station. God’s a creative God and cares about the words we use. I pray that He gives us the words to say and take away the ones that aren’t needed so that each promo and sweeper will be what it needs to be to brand our stations into the community. Especially with various translations, one word can spark the flame.

Side note, we have those friends we’ve made in this format and radio in general, so who is a mentor that can walk along side of you as you enhance your craft so that you not only get
better but you build your confidence and think like those you look up to. They have the experience or way of thinking that you want to channel, so let them help you. Also, keeping our
production libraries fresh is key. Nothing kills great lyrics worse then a cheesy or reused music bed. If you love the words enough to put them on the air, then let it show in the production and see how your station can grow.

No matter what your production deadlines are, you can be proud of what’s birthing on the air and hand out cigars to celebrate. Go be an “ImagingChaser”


Ace is currently the Imaging Director for WDJC Birmingham as well as co host of Roxanne & Ace morning Show. During his 30 year career, he has hosted showed and Programmed for WAY FM, Star 88 and Air 1. Ace can be reached at acemckay@gmail.com 

2 thoughts on “Ace McKay “Be An Imaging Chaser”

  • This is such a breath of fresh air, Ace! So often I feel guilty for listening to other imaging for ideas, thinking I should be able to come up with it on my own – & that just stops the creative process. Thank you!

    • I get it! Sometimes I listen because the station is better than the music. Radio Disney Is an example of great imaging. They know their target and write to them.


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