The Christian Radio Homepage

column archive








Sterling Tarrant
KSBJ Houston / Production Director

The Power of an Embarrassing Childhood




There’s a reason why you had an embarrassing childhood.

It’s because those flashbacks of sheer terror, like remembering how your fly was open when you were onstage in the school play, can be used today to relate to your audience.

Most people will just dismiss the memories that flash in their brain at any given time.  But, if you’re wise, you’ll trust them to at least be a starting point for whatever bit of content you have to come up with.  For instance when I start to write, one exercise I do is to trust my mind to come up with a flashback and I’ll start to improvise off of that.

For instance, I started writing this article by having a flashback to the Pershing Bowl in my hometown of Decatur, Illinois, and how for whatever reason whenever I hear a song by the O’Jays, (like “Love Train”),  I always think of that bowling alley.   I have no idea why.  I just do.  From that I thought - “hey, why not write about connections through flashbacks?”

See, I think that those of us who are labeled “creative” aren’t necessarily more so than others, they just find ways to connect two completely different objects.  Flashbacks are a great way to start.  I’ll give you two examples, and they both involve Jeremy Camp.

The first is a spot for summer camp giveaways, but I can’t take all the credit for it.  What happened was I remembered my bizarro taste in music growing up and I flashbacked to 1975 and a 45 I had called “Mr. Jaws” from a guy named Dickie Goodman.  The record was a silly little commentary that had song hooks in it.  Because of that I came up with this spot full of Jeremy Camp hooks:

Click here for audio ...

One other time, I was on the air and I had a break going into Jeremy’s song “There Will Be a Day.”  For some reason my brain flashed back to the Decatur Public Library and these funky vinyl chairs they had that were kind of like what you’d find on the bridge of the Enterprise-D.  I remembered days as a kid, reading books in those chairs, and I came up with this little ministry bit: 

“Remember some of the great stories you’ve read and how they all come to a good ending?  Those stories often have a few rough chapters, but the main characters make it through.  You may be going through a rough time, but God is still writing your book, and He’ll get you to that good ending.  Here’s Jeremy Camp, “There Will Be a Day on 89.3, KSBJ...”

So don’t dismiss your flashbacks.  If you want to have spots or on-air talk that relates, then latch on to them, because, guess what - everyone in your audience had an embarrassing childhood too. 


AFTERWORD:  Shortly after I wrote this article I came across a Wired Magazine interview from February, 1996.  This is a great quote that wraps up the thought of this article: 

“Creativity is just connecting things.  When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.  It seemed obvious to them after a while.  That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had to synthesize new things.  And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”


                                                                              -Steve Jobs



Sterling Tarrant is the Production Director at KSBJ in Houston,. Since 1978 he has specialized in connecting people to products through copywriting, voicework, and production.  He also helps other stations message effectively.  He does that through the KSBJ Mentoring Department, and also through his own company, Port of Entry Communications, which exists to connect messages to people’s hearts.  He can be reached at