Career capsule: Rick Tarrant is a voice-actor based in Memphis, TN. His career started at the age of 15 at KVSA in McGehee, AR where he hosted an afternoon radio show, “Platter Party”. The ensuing years took him to radio stations up and down the Mississippi including WNOE, New Orleans and WHBQ, Memphis. In Memphis he came to Christ and merged his love for radio with his faith and started Communion Communications. For 23 years he created audio productions for Chrisian music radio stations, artists and record labels. Today he stays busy with free-lance voice-over work and teaching others how to level-up their audio productions.
Rick, tell us what’s new at Rick Tarrant Productions… any news, changes etc… and what’s new with YOU?
Well I just finished production on my very first music video! 🙂 I can’t decide if I’ll call it Veggie wRap or Vegetarian‘s Delight, a nod to the very first rap song I ever played on the radio called Rappers Delight.
The creative process involved in this project over the last two weeks reminded me of the value of collaboration. As a solo-preneur it’s easy to fall into the trap that you have to do everything by yourself. Just as “creativity by committee” is seldom satisfying, so creativity in a vacuum can fall short.
Another project I’ve been working on is called Affirming Words of Abundance. It revisits an idea I produced earlier in my career for Starsong records called Words of Encouragement. Last year I recorded about 10 spoken word albums of scripture meditations around a variety of themes: grace, favor, power, healing, etc.
I am editing these 21 minute recordings into 90 second audio vignettes. One of my very first radio clients is testing to see if they resonate with their listeners. (Agape Radio, KAJN, LaFayette, LA)
How do you balance work & family, how important is it for someone in Christian Media to ‘have a life”?
I don’t feel qualified to comment on “Christian media“ but I think it’s important for all of us to get out of the office, the studio, the workplace. It’s good to work hard and play hard with friends and family, to enjoy God…to enjoy life. It gives us the experiences that make us relatable and give us something to say when the mic or camera goes live. It’s easy to become very myopic, no matter what business you’re in, and think the whole world revolves around your industry.
I tend to be reclusive and camera shy, neither of which are good traits for someone in the media. Nor are they good traits for a disciple of Christ. It’s hard to expand the kingdom when you’re always in the studio isolated from people.
As a digital creator, what do you do to keep up with trends, and technology?
The short answer… YouTube. When it comes to software and hardware I really enjoy watching a gentleman named Tom Buck. He’s a former high school media teacher who loves to “geek out” on new mics, cameras, lighting, etc. Sean Cannell (rhymes with channel) is a great source of info on tech gear as well. His channel is called “Think Media”. He’s a follower of Jesus who is letting his light shine in the marketplace.
What’s something you’ve learned due to the pandemic, about Christian Media, that you didn’t know before?
Again I’m not sure I can speak to “Christian media” but I can tell you what the pandemic did for me. From the first moment I heard about it I thought “Lord, you are up to something.” And he was, at least for me. I am grateful for the pandemic. It introduced me to an online community of believers like I’ve never experienced. I learned the importance of being authentic, sharing your personal stories and being vulnerable. I spent the previous 17 years feeling I had lost my “place in this world”, walking in the wilderness and pretty much thinking God was done with me. That can happen when you lose your community. When I lost my business I lost my radio community. Shortly thereafter my church of over 30 years closed its doors and I lost that community.
Regarding your career, what are you most proud of?
During the past 2 years, with like-minded friends, I’ve been working on the “inner game”: heart healing, renewed mind and Kingdom revelation. It’s been transformative. Jesus said we are to go into all the world. It’s hard to do that when your mind and heart are broken. When the Spirit of God comes in to heal then your light can shine like you were created to do.
I’ve had the privilege in recent years to voice a few national TV commercials. About three weeks ago I was on the set of an NBC-TV show called Young Rock. I was cast as a ring announcer in season 3 – episode 7. Now let’s see if I make the final cut that goes on the air! Those were fun projects but the one that I truly felt the Lord produced through me was the Rich Mullins tribute I produced 25 years ago. That production gave me the opportunity to air some of our conversations that never fit into a short form format. Rich didn’t talk about record deals or studio life. He was a thinker who hungered for the mysteries of God and when I hear him speak it causes me to hunger as well.
What is the ONE thing you must have everyday to do your job? (aside from coffee)
A great microphone!
Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
My first radio mentor was Jack Parnell. He was the program Director of WHBQ in Memphis. When I was in high school I wrote him a letter asking for career advice and he sent me back a nice page and a half letter of encouragement. After high school I sent him a recording of me on the air at KNOE-AM, Monroe, LA. When I called to follow-up, he gently suggested that it might be a good idea to cut the songs out of the next tape!
Years later Jack would do voice work for me as I was launching my monthly production service for radio stations. He also supported me in pursuing voice-over work. He even shared his mailing list which landed me a client that is still hiring me over 30 years later. I was saddened recently to hear that he now suffers from dementia.
My other mentor was Tom Dooley. When I was 19, I bought an air check from the California Aircheck Factory and they sent me a one hour recording of KHJ Los Angeles. The DJ on the air was Tom Dooley. I listened to that tape countless times and “borrowed” extensively from him.
A couple of years later, as only God could orchestrate, our paths crossed here in Memphis. I was a producer at William B. Tanner Company and we hired him to do some voice work. We went to lunch and I felt a friendship begin. A few months later I learned that Tom gave his life to Jesus. Then he got involved in Christian music radio also. Towards the end of his life when he was battling cancer, I told him that I was sorry that I had not stayed in touch better so that he could’ve mentored me more. He very graciously pointed to me and then to himself, communicating that he would receive from me as well.
Now we’re back to that community conversation. If there’s one thing I would like to leave with anyone who may be going through a difficult season in their life: do not isolate yourself. Surround yourself with people who celebrate you, encourage you and believe in you. Tom Dooley was that kind of brother. Unfortunately he left us way too soon.