Saint John & Saint Louis Dance With The Devil

KSDradioFiringPartyStLouis1979atJohnSaintJohnsPlace
55-KSD Radio “Getting the Axe” Party in St. Louis 1979 … Ed Scarborough front row left, standing it’s John Saint John on left along with legendary St. Louis radio news dude Bob Hamilton of KMOX fame

It’s long been said that the Devil dances in empty pockets. You’ll also hear that the Devil is in the details. And in the summer of 1979, as John Saint John, I was dancing a very detailed jig with the Pulitzer Family along the banks of the Mississippi in Saint Louis, Missouri.

This whole blog post was triggered by a rather innocent enough email to the Airlift Productions Studios from a Lance Hildebrand (traffic reporter/VO guy), looking for a studio to work from while visiting New Orleans. The subject line was “We’re both KSD Alums”.  Really?

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Saint John Congratulations letter from the office of the PA Attorney General, Harrisburg, PA 1978

Hired by the Pulitzer Family in the summer of 1978, I’d packed up my entire life, hopes & dreams and moved over 800 miles from Harrisburg, PA to take on the afternoon drive shift at 55-KSD radio in St. Louis.  Excitement was hardly the word!

That summer the Pulitzers held and owned pop/adult 55-KSD Radio,  NBC-affiliate KSD Television, AND the property that first put them on the map – The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, the most widely read paper in town. Long before there was a radio or a television set, Joseph Pulitzer had made his name in print.  The “Prize” was to come years later.

Little did I realize when I first took the job that this stunning combination of power, strength and reach would serve to ultimately lead to my untimely dismissal.

** KTVI-2/St. Louis Don Marsh Feature on John Saint John, 1979 **

Let’s face it, in 1979, before the birth of the internet, the web & a digitally-connected America – one company could, in effect, monopolize what people would read in their newspaper, listen to on their radio, and watch on their television! I mean, what else was there?

Apparently, by 1979, the FCC had come to the same conclusion.

The Ronald Reagan years of deregulation and consolidation were yet to come, and the Federal Communications Commission, the government’s watch dog, had been wagging it’s paw at the Pulitzer clan for quite some time.  And the time had come.

KSD Radio's Name Game Promotion, as it appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
KSD Radio’s Name Game Promotion, as it appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Music DJs Ron Morgan, Ed Scarborough, and yours truly were all shown the door as Combined Communications out of San Diego purchased KSD Radio from the Pulitzers,  changed the format to News/Talk and decided to duke it out with KMOX.

Ironically, my afternoon news dude, the amazingly & wickedly talented Bob Hamilton, was retained through the transition, and later went on to legendary status at longtime CBS kingpin KMOX.  Let’s hear it  for the on-air longevity of an outstanding newsman’s career.

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Micheal Ziants wedding to Cookie, along with mom & dad, Creve Coeur, suburban St. Louis, 1979

Yes, despite my #1 ratings with women 25-49 in afternoon drive at 55-KSD – precisely what Lee Fowler, Ed Newsome and the Pulitzers had hired me to do – newly married and with a child on the way, along with the rest of the on-air music staff, I was summarily let go/fired in the late summer of 1979.  A pawn in quite the elaborate and corporate chess game.

But as my pop used to say “Illegitimus non carborundum est” (Latin for ‘don’t let the bastard grind you down’).  I picked myself up, dusted myself off … and headed to Nashville. But that’s the story for another blog another time.

Indeed, those late summer nights after Cardinals games,  I dreamed of having quite the career in Saint Louis, maybe after radio parlaying my on-air work into writing for the Post-Dispatch one day, but that story was never to happen.

Dancing with the Devil? He’s in the details? You betcha’! And I guess I should have seen it coming.  When radio got into bed with big business, you knew it wasn’t going to end pretty. 

And when you get into bed with the Devil … you better be prepared to get it on.

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Toby Ricketts Instagram-Twitter ‘Selfie” taken in the Airlift Productions booth

“Working on the road can be a pain for voice artists – I was so glad to find Airlift studios on my travels, just outside NOLA CBD! What a beautiful, cozy, and quiet space to work in. Micheal was an absolute pleasure to work with, being 100% professional and 100% nice guy! If I’m ever in the Big Easy again, I’ll be sure to stop in and see Mike at Airlift Productions.” – TOBY RICKETTS, New Zealand-based, award-winning, world-class VoiceOver Artist

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Airlift Productions – we’ll leave the mics hot… and the light on for you.

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984

 

The Mystic Krewe of Nyx Meets Airlift Mike – And Podcasting.

Scott Walker & Sula Kim at the WDSU Anchor Desk

Scott Walker Consulting was founded in 2018 by Emmy and Murrow Award-Winning News Anchor Scott Walker.

After his top-rated nine year run at New Orleans’ WDSU-TV, Scott walked away from the nightly anchor chair this past summer to try something different – teaching social media skills to today’s youth and acting as public relations consultant to various local businesses.

His email first came into the Airlift Productions Studios and to my attention  November 2018 as he was looking for a little help.

L-R. Julie T. Couret, Captain Julie Lea, Yavonka George “Vee”, making themselves at home on the Airlift Productions couch

As it turns out, one of Scott’s first consulting clients was Julie Lea‘s Mystic Krewe of Nyx, and the ladies were looking to spread their wings – and purses – into internet PODCASTING!

For the uninitiated, in eight short years, the Mystic Krewe of Nyx has grown into Mardi Gras’ BIGGEST parade  – this all-female krewe features over 3,348 women from 48 states in America and around the world!

And this past November, founder Julie Lea was looking for a way to reach out to all the krewe’s members 21st century style with podcasts.

These podcasts could then be accessible 24-7-365 and from anywhere via iTunes and the krewe’s website, keeping all its members abreast of the latest news, as well as providing business and support tips for the krewe’s very successful – and yet very busy – lady riders.

Enter Airlift Mike and Airlift Productions.

Scott Walker selfie, along with Julie Couret podcasting with Airlift Mike

So, Julie Lea and her team, Julie T. Couret and Yavonka George (affectionately known as “Vee”) first appeared at the Airlift Studios last November and, to date, we’ve recorded a total of seventeen 30 minute podcasts.

Think Hoda & Kathie Lee meet “The View” – N’awlins style!

Free-wheeling, off-the-cuff, stream of consciousness, FUN… and the ladies call it “The Purse Chronicles”.

You see, that’s Nyx’s big calling card, as well as its most prized Mardi Gras throw – the purse!

The Krewe of NYX rolls along St. Charles Avenue during Mardi Gras 2019

In Greek mythology, NYX was the goddess of the night, with prophetic powers, older and more powerful than even Zeus himself, and the perfect iconic symbol for this  independent thinking and stunning group of sassy, successful ladies.

Sample just a taste of the FUN with this excerpt from a podcast recorded at the Airlift Studios January 2019, all about the Krewe of Nyx’s love and passion for Mardi Gras….

** Mystic Krewe of Nyx ** Podcast 17 excerpt – Mardi Gras **

Funny, isn’t it, how through the magic of digital 1s & 0s, America’s taste has so easily transitioned from broadcast – to podcast!

As we’ve all gotten a tad spoiled, wanting our entertainment and information on OUR time, OUR schedule, tailored to OUR wants and needs.

Just as the movie world & Blockbuster gave way to Netflix streaming, and the Photo-Mat kiosk gave way to the camera that is the  iPhone in your pocket… Podcasting is here to stay.

Mystic Krewe of Nyx selfie from the Airlift Productions Booth (L-R) Julie T. Couret, “Vee” Yavonka George, Captain Julie Lea

And, for that matter, so is the Mystic Krewe of Nyx!

Scott and the ladies have booked more studio time for the end of this month.

So… “Stay tuned”.

 

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“My experience with Airlift Productions was top notch from the start. My company is based in Los Angeles and I had a client that needed to do a last minute VO session in New Orleans. Micheal was incredibly knowledgeable and accommodating, not to mention a blast to work with! Our session turned out beautifully.” – LIZZ RANTZE, Executive Producer, Rantze + Raves Productions, Los Angeles, CA

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from NOLA since 1984.

 

Things I’ve Learned About Life From Deepak Chopra

BFFs Wayne Dyer & Deepak Chopra, and a program that changed my life, “Beyond Miracles”

I first “met” Deepak Chopra through the writings, teachings, and lectures of Wayne Dyer.

As fellow mystics & metaphysicians, these two were BFFs (best friends forever) until Wayne’s untimely passing  three and a half years ago in Maui.

Together, through my now decades of study, these two have helped to unravel many of the mysteries of life – as well as death – for me.

But chief among them is the thought process that is the subject of this blog.

As astonishing as it seems upon first inspection… it is now a scientifically proven fact that there is not a single atom in the human body today that was there seven years ago!

That is YOUR body and mine.

While at first blush this sounds absolutely mad, pause to consider but a few facts from our everyday lives…

Every time you clip your fingernails, or get your hair cut, or exfoliate in the bathroom daily… where was that fingernail, or hair follicle, or skin cell last week or last month, to say nothing of last year?!?

That’s right. It was latent, born, and growing inside of you.

Just as the spring flowers in the garden return every year, or the apple that ‘magically’ appears on the tree, as humans, we are constantly reinventing ourselves from the inside out every day, 24-7-365 from every single thing that we eat, drink, and breathe.

As they say in New Orleans, ‘for true’!

As further proof of this scientific fact, the drug testing world now routinely clips hair from a suspect to determine marijuana use.

For the hair follicle will show conclusive proof of its use – and where was that hair months ago, but being fed by and grown from the inhalation of marijuana smoke.

Good buddies (and ‘Buddhas’?) L-R. Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra

Furthermore, as Deepak so eloquently instructed me, especially here in the West, we mistakenly equate the human brain with the MIND, when they are, indeed, separate things!

While the brain is roughly three and a a half pounds of grey matter, driven by chemicals and electricity at the top of the spine… the mind exists in and, in fact, drives every cell of the human body.

And this ‘mind’ is constantly eavesdropping on every thought and emotion entertained by the brain.

Metaphorically, our bodies would then be the hi-tech, latest, state of the art airplane, while the ‘mind’ would act 24-7 as the air traffic controller!

So, we all need to control and be ever vigilant regarding the thoughts we allow ourselves from moment to moment.

Too much?

Well, the rishis, yogis, and spiritual masters who populate the ashrams of the far East would beg to differ.

Pause to consider, what the Carpenter from Galilee was really trying to get through to his 1st century posse on that ill-fated last supper in the upper room was that when He drank the wine – it would literally become His blood. And when He ate the bread, likewise, it would become His flesh!

We must all either view food as our medicine… or we will have to view medicine (Big Pharma) as our food.

New stomach, new skeletal structure, new organs, new skin, new heart, new brain.

Every seven years.

In fact, the very words you are reading right now are being written by the new 2019 version of Micheal Ziants’ brain!

What a marvelous revelation and epiphany this is for an otherwise clueless 21st century man – driving through the Wendy’s pickup window and scarfing down Tombstone frozen pizzas from the Rouse’s.

To the point?

Perhaps it indeed is true! We are what we eat… literally!

So, let’s all give more thought to EVERY thing that we eat, drink, and, yes, breathe on a daily basis.

For if you – the reader of these words – is not ultimately and totally responsible for every morsel of food and every drink that passes your lips, as well as every thought that you carry in your mind, I’d like to respectfully ask you… who is?

(Come on, guys, I can’t write only about VoiceOver and recording all the time. Especially when physical shape and excellent health certainly contribute to great on-mic performance, right?…mgz)

~ Micheal Ziants – Airlift Mike, NEW Orleans, LA, USA

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Airlift Productions – Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984