Caught Between Dr. Morgus & A “Hard Rock” Place For H’Ween 2019

Hard Rock Hotel collapse, Saturday morning, Oct. 12th, 2019 – Canal Street, New Orleans

While I began talks with NOLA’s iconic Dr. Morgus for his big show early this year, little prepared either of us for the events of early Saturday morning, Oct. 12th, 2019.

You see, New Orleans became the headline in America’s national news that day as the Hard Rock Hotel construction site on our Canal Street unexpectedly and catastrophically collapsed!

The problem? The city of New Orleans was now in a heightened state of emergency – 36 hours from our big showtime at NOLA’s majestic Orpheum Theater, which sits right around the corner but steps from the Hard Rock site.

In true, “The show must go on” style, Uncle Sid & I, together with Orpheum GM Ivy Mouledoux and production ace Lewis D’Aubin, put our heads together, kept our collective cool, and delivered anyway.

Sid Noel in full costume as “MORGUS THE MAGNIFICENT”

To the uninitiated, Dr. Morgus (The Magnificent) is New Orleans’ beloved, legendary & iconic late night horror movie host and alter-ego to my dear pal Sidney Noel. So, to celebrate 60 years of Morgus (the show debuted in 1959), we’d planned our Big Halloween tribute, “An Evening with Sid Noel: The Recollections of a Mad Scientist”.

Social Media, Radio & TV blurbs
Morgus Show Orpheum Packed-House, Oct. 13th, 2019 – the night of the Full Moon
Audio of Airlift Mike’s Intro to Morgus Show Highlight Reel

Social media, Radio & TV blurbs sure helped to get the word out, but a mere 36 hours from the Hard Rock fiasco, the curtain went up at the Orpheum Theater at precisely 7:00 PM Sunday night, Oct. 13th to a “souled-out”, packed “Friends of Science” crowd.

Acting as emcee, I warmed-up the audience, we rolled into a half-hour Morgus Show highlight montage film, and then I introduced “The Master”…. as Sid walked on-stage to a thunderous, standing overture of affection.

(L-R) Airlift’s Micheal Ziants, E.R.I.C., & Sid Noel, Orpheum Theater, Oct. 13th, 2019

With warm, reflective tones and a comedic style belying his 89 years – and without the aid of a teleprompter or notes – Sid nimbly and effortlessly entertained the crowd as he reminisced with story after story about his lifelong relationship with “The Higher Order’s” Doctor Morgus.

As our old pal Dr. JOHN would often sing & say, it was, “Such a Night”!

By the time it was all over, hearts were warmed, smiles were embraced, memories were kindled – and the show raised well over $43,000.00 for Alzheimer’s Louisiana!

(Very personal note) Uncle Sid, I can’t thank you enough for this opportunity to serve – as both emcee & highlight reel voiceover, for this most wonderful priceless memory, and for the inspiration your tireless efforts have given my aging body.

May the Good Lord indeed Bless & Keep You!

As I write these words, the fate of downtown New Orleans and the Hard Rock Hotel site is still very much up in the air… but rest assured that the legacy of Sid Noel’s Morgus The Magnificent has never been on more rock-solid ground.

*******************************************************************

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’s CBD! What a beautiful, cozy, and quiet space to work in. Michael 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, Award-Winning, World-Class, New Zealand-based Voice Talent

Airlift Productions Answers Chicken Versus Egg Conundrum

AirliftProductionsNewOrleansAnswersChickenVsEggConundrum

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Around the Airlift Productions Studios,  I still get into this one with my video production pals – when it comes down to audio versus video, which of the two is more powerful and packs the bigger punch?!?

I mean, what is all televison except radio… with pictures?  Which came first? And where are the more powerful emotional cues?  

You know, the ones that capture attention, motivate, inspire, scare … and drive someone to action?

Pause to consider, the very first sense that develops as the human develops within the mother’s womb is …. wait for it –  the sense of HEARING!  The growing infant HEARS the mother’s heartbeat and the rush of amniotic fluid, almost like ocean waves,  surrounding it’s ears.

The eyes are nowhere in the picture yet.

paragon-city-center-12Now, picture yourself in a movie theater. You are terrified by the motion picture – from b/w ‘Psycho’ in the ’60s to the latest flick about some camp counselor gone crazy chasing teens through the woods with an ax – and you can very simply close your eyes.

But you cannot close your ears!

The shrieks of terror, the ragged breathing, the sound effects, the dramatic music pulsing and pounding.  Even when all sounds disappear and come to a complete … heart-pounding … stop!

Interestingly, the Creator gave us eyelids… but He didn’t give us EAR-lids!

Now, talk to a hospice caregiver, and they’ll quickly tell you from experience that in the majority of cases the final sense to leave us at death – is the sense of hearing.

More to the point, in the case of television advertising, when an ad comes on, many are off to the bathroom or into the kitchen.  In this case, all the expensive video editing software and fancy visual zips and zaps are superfluous! They are not even there in the experience of the intended viewer.

The AUDIO portion of the ad, however, is still there – OUT LOUD for all to witness!

And since time immemorial, the story-telling tradition, as one generation passed legend and myth and bedtime stories down to the next, the entire ‘presentation’ was aural – powerful, memorable and impact-full.

Sorry, video aces, but audio trumps video. It will always be AUDIO that drives the emotional train.

Airlift Productions, driving that emotional train from NEW Orleans …. since 1984.

AirliftProductionsAnswersWhoCameFirstQuestion

******************************************************************

harlon miller“Airlift is THE place to go for a top quality demo. With Mike behind the board you are in very capable hands. His vast knowledge and command of all things audio blends with his laid-back fun environment to bring out the best in any voice.  Airlift Productions has the experience and all the tools necessary to make a voice-over reel that is on par with anything you would find in New York or LA!”

– – – HARLON MILLER, Voice-Over Actor

** Harlon’s Airlift-Mike-produced VoiceOver Demo **

***********************************************************

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

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from New Orleans… since 1984  

Have You Heard About the Big One That Got Away?

L-R.GatorAndMikeMcCannQ-93in1989AirliftProductionsNOLA
“Gator” (Wakeman Linscomb) & Airlift Productions Proprietor “Mike McCann”, the Q-93 Wake-Up Krewe, entertaining N’awlins in 1989, and laying-down tracks at Airlift Productions on Iberville

It happened again last night. 

Even though I haven’t worked LIVE on the radio this century, the dreams persist.

I’m on-air in a control room in the 1970s or ’80s, or more to the point, locked-OUT of the control room… records are running out… I can’t find the right commercials… DEAD AIR!

MichealZiantsAkaMikeMcCannWQUE
a full-page ad in Sunday’s Times-Picayune promoting WQUE’s Mike McCann

Town-to-town, packing, unpacking…. making new friends, saying goodbye to old friends… up & down the radio dial… AM, FM… ego trips, bad trips… but through it all —- 

Radio was without question the most fun I ever had with my clothes on!

And the people and towns it brought into my life informed my life – and changed it. { Cue the flashback harp music glissando …}

It was 1989, and after many years freelancing, I was ‘seduced back to the dark side of the force’… and re-entered radio for a brief while here in New Orleans at WQUE-FM/Q-93 as one half of a morning team, partnered with this character called ‘the Gator’.

While we only lasted a short while as a team on-air, there was magic! At least enough to catch the interest of an agent. An agent who then parlayed our airchecks into a LIVE On-Air three-day audition at Boston’s top-rated WZOU over Christmas of 1989!

L-R.MikeMcCannSinbadGatorOnAirAtQ-93RadioFall1989AirliftProductionsNOLA
(L-R) Micheal Ziants (Mike McCann), Comedian/Actor Sinbad, Gator on-air at Q-93 New Orleans in the Fall of 1989

Steve Rivers, program director at the time, flew the Gator and me into Boston, put us up at the Boston Harbor Hotel (pretty swanky) and we actually woke up the city of Boston, Mass for three mornings that winter!

I’m at a loss for words to explain how vibrantly thrilling and exciting this whole process was. Working LIVE on-air, walking a tightrope without a net ( no ‘take two’ as is done in a recording studio ), in a strange town … and all in the days before the internet & the world wide web … you know, when radio was really radio! Wow!

Listen to just some of the madness, excitement and fun of this on-air audition at this monster of a radio station here —

**** Gator & McCann  On-Air @ WZOU-Boston 12-14-89 ***

The absolutely precious WZOU "Zoo-Cat" logo - complete with headphones, as it appeared on bumper stickers & T-Shirts in 1989
The absolutely precious WZOU “Zoo-Cat” logo – complete with headphones – as it appeared on bumper stickers & T-Shirts in 1989

Now, to ‘cut to the chase’, we were not hired at WZOU. After all was said and done – and believe me, much was said and done – management decided that our act would not fit-in in Boston … and we flew back to New Orleans without a contract.

Funny the way life works. When I think how differently my life would have turned out had we gotten this job it makes my head spin.  Me, a Yankee again? No Airlift Productions? Erase my over thirty years of contributions to New Orleans media & history? I think not.

But was it ever fun!  And still makes for quite the story over beers with the guys, or when we sit around comparing battle scars in the radio wars … or, like the fishermen here in Sportsman’s Paradise – talking about the big one … that got away.

*************************************************************

Nathan J. Robinson, while recording at Airlift Productions, October 2019

“Mike is a master of his craft, a true audio artisan. The long days I spent recording my audio book with him were a joy. First and foremost, he is a meticulous professional who wants to make sure that the production achieves the best possible quality. Because of his extensive background as a voice actor, he can coach you in exactly how to make something sound serious, credible, and powerful.

And because he built the whole studio himself, he knows how to get the most out of his equipment and produce exceptional recordings. But more than that, Mike is not just a skilled producer. He’s a great guy, with a tranquil life philosophy that will put you at ease and make you feel comfortable enough to give your best effort. He knows how to make you feel good, from the mood lighting to his calming presence in your headphones. He’s funny, too, and has lots of great stories from his long career in radio.

I truly had a blast working with Mike and will write another book just to do a new audio book with him.” — NATHAN J. ROBINSON, Editor in chief of Current Affairs magazine and author of Why You Should Be A Socialist.

*************************************************************

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from New Orleans since 1984