Airlift Mike Spices-UP WWL ~ Cajun Style!

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Airlift Productions’ Micheal Ziants Writes, Voices & Produces “Once Upon A Time” Radio Spot for Frere Jean Cajun Seasonings ~ for air on WWL Radio

 

You know,  it occurs to me that the last few blogs have been all about the rear view mirror …. radio memories of Walton, Johnson, Chapin & Rundgren from the ’70s & ’80s – so let’s tap the brakes a second and re-enter the 21st century ~ 2014!

Tonight “Once Upon A Time” debuts on WWL Radio, with it’s unique-to-New-Orleans totally awesome, 50,000 watt, clear channel AM night-time signal.  I mean, Hello … it covers and reaches 37 states in America!

I was entrusted by Brother John Foods to create ~ conceive, write, voice & produce ~ a sixty second radio spot to promote their one-of-a-kind SALT-FREE Cajun seasonings product.

The spot came out to be so much fun!

Pause to consider, the four most magical words in the English language are “Once upon a time …” for they set the stage for fable, myth, legend and fantastic stories.

And to think, there’s not a Boudreaux, cher, or ‘Ay-EEEE’ shout anywhere in the copy.  LISTEN here —

*** Frere Jean ‘Once Upon A Time’ radio :60 for WWL Radio  ***

The tinkling of the music box, the Chinese bell tree and the evocative music track sure help to set the stage for magic, huh?  And I had a riot writing and developing the story-teller copy points, right down to the idea of rescuing damsels, er ah,  princesses in distress – and their waistlines!

In fact, there’s so much packed into this sixty seconds of airtime that you hear and catch something different in it every time you listen.  In my estimation that is what great radio should be all about.

Using the medium for what it does best … to light-up the imagination – and then take that imagination  to front stage center in the Theater of the Mind!

{ Oh, and could you please clean this place up a bit?!  Apparently some clown spilled popcorn & soda and my feet are sticking to the floor…  LOL, LMFAO, BFF  🙂  ~ the management}

 

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Micheal Ziants – New Orleans Voice Over Talent & Airlift Productions Studio Owner ~ 2012 promo pic

 

Airlift Productions Recording Studio ~ Telling America’s Great Stories from New Orleans …. since 1984!

My Reality Check Bounced. A Long Time Ago.

 

My very first 'selfie'
My very first ‘selfie’

 

Sunday mornings around the Airlift Studios have a different beat … a different vibe. Reflective.  Quiet.  Thoughtful.  Picture Paul & Art in the background,  choirboys Simon & Garfunkel harmonizing and that would be about right.

Problem is, I’ve never been ‘right’.  Except when the whole world turns Left.

As America gobbles down fast food by the truck-full – I’ve got the crock pot going in the kitchen – for eight hours.

While most folks knock themselves out in a morning commute to a job – I’m traveling up-hill at ten mph on a Nordic track cross-country ski machine – meditating!

Even people who don’t know the most – know that I believe in ghosts.  

Truth be known,  I’ve always been this intensely mystical, metaphysical space cowboy.  Color outside the lines?  You mean, there are lines?

Nip it, tuck it, tint it, lift it … do what you will with the body, but it’s just a place your memories call home.  And at the end … it’s just a fingerprint that your soul has left behind.  Really.

Reality?  It’s all in the eyes of the beholder.  Or in the eyes of the beer-holder – in bars & nightclubs all around America last night.

Complaints?  Mine are few.  My life has been blessed with many fascinating and captivating women across many state lines and across many decades. 

I’ve seen sorrow and I’ve seen pain.  I’ve been burnt by the blazing sun … and drowned in the pouring rain.

But through it all – Spirit, Music & Humor have always seen me through … to the other side. 

A classic case in point – I once received a post card from the ex-wife containing the image below, and the note said simply … “Having a great time, wish you were here.” 🙂 

 

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The blue marble – 3rd rock from the sun

Classic N.O. Eatery Gets a FaceLift … Airlift Style!

 

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Airlift Productions & Micheal Ziants Add the Voice & Sizzle to Tujague’s Radio spot

 

I was reminded of this gig just last night when I caught the spot on WRNO-99.5-Rush Radio in New Orleans.  Man, how times … and dimes have changed.

When it came time for legendary French Quarter restaurant Tujagues on Decatur to roll-out it’s new Brunch menu and shout it from the rooftops via WRNO, the bat signal went out into the night sky for Airlift Mike.

What followed is kind of like the ‘alley-oop’ play in basketball – Bo Walker (then-production chief at Clear Channel) emailed me the copy … I voiced it and sent it back to him, along with some sound effect cues … he added his music track and mixed it down, then ping-ponged this mp3 back to me … and voila!

Part history lesson, part menu … and all sizzle! And when it all comes out of your car speaker on WRNO or worldwide via their I-Heart radio app, ‘Tujagues Brunch Menu’ radio :60 sounds like this….

 

Yeah, pretty amazing times we’re living in, huh?

Please though, do not attempt this kind of radio production at home.  These men are trained professionals.

Note: No animals were harmed in the making of this commercial.

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Tujagues Brunch Menu Radio :60 Voiced by Micheal Ziants & Airlift Productions

Boots On The Ground … At Airlift Productions

 

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Twitter ScreenShot with details of today’s Airlift Audio Book session with Michael Pitre

 

Airlift Productions & I are honored to aid the Audible.com audio book crowd today – 7-18-14 – recording some additional tracks for Michael Pitre’s stunning and unflinching portrait of the Iraq war.

A novel informed by first-hand experience through two tours of duty in Iraq, “Fives and Twenty-Fives” is Pitre’s no-holds-barred story of not only life in Baghdad – but readjusting to life, love and work back in the U.S.

Yes, from IEDs to PTSD.

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Marine, Iraq Vet & Author Michael Pitre

 

Louisiana native & New Orleanian, LSU grad with a double major in History & Creative Writing,  a U.S. Marine Captain  … and now, Author – this is the book Michael was destined to write.

And together today, we’ll attempt to tie a few loose ends together and help tell ‘the rest of the story’.

“Fives and Twenty-Fives”, coming soon to an Amazon.com audio book and Audible.com download near you.

From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli, indeed the toughest battles of all may be the ones fought here, post-war, in the hearts and minds and lives of those who came home.

Semper Fi, Michael, Semper Fi!

 

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Pitre “Fives and Twenty-Fives” Book jacket cover

 

Doctor Morgus Still Makes Housecalls…With Airlift Mike

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Sid Noel aka Dr. Morgus the Magnificent Records Internet Story Club Vocal Tracks at Airlift Productions

 

In the mythology of the American Tribe, Superman will always have his Clark Kent, the Batman his Bruce Wayne…and iconic New Orleans TV late-night horror movie host Dr. Morgus (the Magnificent) will always have Sidney Noel Rideau. 

Here in the 21st century, ‘Uncle Sid’ has moved on from his haunts at the Old City Ice House and yet embarked on his boldest experiment ever – using technology, the internet and TV to help mold and shape the thought and character of today’s youth!

It may all sound a bit zany and bold, but when did that ever stop Dr. Morgus before?

Airlift Productions and I are proud to have been tagged personally by Sid (just call me Chopsley) to produce and voice the public service announcement campaign for New Orleans television to promote his Sidney Noel’s ‘Internet Story Club’ website .

Witness a sample of the PSA promotion as it appears On Air – through the talents of Blaine Strawn & his uber-capable crew down on Jefferson Davis Parkway – now showing on a WVUE-TV/Fox-8 flat screen near you …

To read more on nola.com about Sid’s latest adventure, follow the story here NOLA.com ‘Dr. Morgus: the Man Behind the Mask’  

After all, it’s not enough for our legal system to just keep locking-up bad guy after bad guy after bad guy … Our society simply has to stop making them!

Go get ’em, Sid! Now we understand what you meant by “the Higher Order”.

 

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Airlift Productions’ Micheal Ziants appearing with Dr. Morgus in an episode of “Morgus Presents” – circa 1989

SuperMoon 2014 Musings On “The HereAfter”

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So, get caught up in the game all you want, but when you get right down to it … all Life –  as we know it here on the 3rd rock from the sun – is nothing more than an elaborate sexually transmitted disease!

And, this just in, the Leading cause of Death … is Birth.  Just ask Tommy Ramone, Casey Kasem, or Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  Or, for that matter, the dozens of SIDS victims this week alone who never even got their chance.

As you meditate upon the SuperMoon hanging low in the summer sky this weekend, pause to consider … not a one of us is sure exactly how we got here, why we are here, or when we go home.  But of one thing we are all certain.

You and I both have – like the milk jugs on the refrigerator door – an expiration date stamped on our forehead that we just can’t quite read.  And we all hang by a slim thread from the tree of this life … never knowing the day or the hour.

OK, so do we meditate on this eternally universal truth to depress us … or to liberate and motivate us?  The answer is quite obvious.

We cannot change the cards we’ve been dealt.  Our only choice in the matter is how we play the hand!  Life is not – as the saying goes – ‘a bitch, and then you die’, it’s more like – Life is this grand and glorious, bodacious Amusement Park that mom & dad bought and paid our ticket for when they did the horizontal hokey pokey.

(To continue the metaphor) We only get so many rides around that sun.  And, just like the merry-go-round ride, Life goes Up & Down, and round ‘n round … and eventually comes to an end.  Oh, and you must be this spiritually tall to continue riding the ride. 🙂

So as you meditate on that big, fat SuperMoon this weekend,  just a couple thoughts to ponder ….

‘That which was never born … can never die’.  

The biggest part of ANY of us – isn’t reflected in a mirror, doesn’t show up on a scale, and will never be found in an autopsy.

And my favorite zen koan (riddle),  ‘Who were you … before your mother & father met?’

~ Respectfully, Micheal Z @ Airlift, NOLA

p.s. And should you get a chance, increasethepeace ….mgz

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SuperMoon hanging low over Broadway, New York City

 

Radio-Activity in Harrisburg, PA? TMI, it Ain’t!

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Airlift Proprietor Micheal Ziants as John Saint John, WKBO Radio,                                                     Harrisburg, PA ~ circa 1976 ~

Long before I dreamed of New Orleans – to say nothing of owning and operating my own recording studio – and in those dark, prehistoric days before the dawn of the internet, I was radio-active in the state capital of Harrisburg, PA.

This has nothing to do with the infamous Three Mile Island incident, although it did make for a rather clever blog headline, no?

Actually, America’s most volatile and scary nuclear accident occurred in early 1979 shortly after I exited Harrisburg for my first major market radio job at the Pulitzer family-owned 55/KSD Radio in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Yes, long before New Orleans and long before Airlift Productions, I was thrilled to be the #1 Arbitron-rated afternoon air personality/disc jockey in Harrisburg, PA! Along with the largest cumulative audience between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. I always kind of looked at my ARB ratings as ‘bowling trophies’.

WKBO Radio was just smokin’!  The air was filled with the sounds of the Steve Miller Band, David Bowie, BeeGees and Donna Summer … weekends were spent in the sun, sand & surf at the Jersey shore.  And the internet, mp3s, i-pods & downloads were but dreams in a tech-head’s head. Radio – and AM at that – was it!

A name like Micheal Ziants just wouldn’t cut it for 1970’s radio … so John Saint John was born!  It was my stage name, my alter ego, the Batman to my Bruce Wayne for a total of twelve years, through Harrisburg, Saint Louis, Nashville & Philadelphia.

Truth be known? I would have paid THEM for the opportunity. To be hanging out, stoned  backstage with George Carlin and on-stage with Cheech & Chong … to ride the largest elephant in the Ringling Bros/Barnum & Bailey circus – bareback!  And fly upside down at 500 mph with the Blue Angels.

Radio active?  You betcha’! Catch just some of the fever ( Saturday night and otherwise ) with Harrisburg’s ‘politically apathetic, though ultra-liberal, and semi-hippie rock ‘n roll disc jockey’ –  John Saint John here… 

Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll, everything was on the table, er… ah Turntable … and ‘On The Air’in this edited WKBO AirCheck of Micheal Ziants as John Saint John from June 1978, Harrisburg, PA ~

MichealZiants-aka-JohnSaintJohn-Behind-JoeyTravolta-WKBO1977-AirliftProductions ~ Micheal Ziants aka John Saint John, standing behind John Travolta’s brother Joey at a WKBO Radio promotion, Harrisburg, 1977 ~

When Is A VoiceOver MORE Than A VoiceOver?

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Veteran New Orleans VoiceOver Talent Micheal Ziants, 2012 Promotional Pic

 

You know, when you think of a VoiceOver in the 21st century it is so much different than a VoiceOver in the 20th century.

In radio & television’s infancy last century the V/O was all about “Announcing” – Loud, shout-it-from-the-rooftops, in-your-face … arresting and intrusive, with letter-perfect pronunciation and tones.  Also read ‘abrasive’.

Just as in all things, the VoiceOver has changed too.  Today, think of the candid, reflective, pensive tones in Morgan Freeman’s work in ‘Shawshank Redemption’, or even DiCaprio’s V/O tones in ‘Wolf of Wall Street’.

While these were movies, indeed all VoiceOver work today – radio, tv,  industrials, software, etc – is the domain of the actor.  The ‘announcer’ is just so passe.

The challenge for the VoiceOver talent today is to ‘inhabit’ the copy, get ‘inside’ the words, convey and emote so as to make the words jump off the paper – and live and breathe … and motivate!

(tone shift…) As America prepares for yet another 4th of July, with hot dogs, apple pie, beer, fireworks and … family, allow me to share a project of mine that takes the VoiceOver and applies it to matters of the heart.

In one of America’s fave romantic comedies, one of America’s fave Brits,  Hugh Grant opens up ‘Love Actually’ with a rather poignant and pointed soliloquy about love and families … and heartbreak.

With poetic license, I changed the name of the airport from ‘Heathrow’ to ‘Louis Armstrong’, borrowed the movie music and a few sound effects and came up with this …

Quiet.  Relaxed.  Pensive.  Reflective.  Real.  Warm. Thoughtful.

You know, in the last century – somewhere between the ‘Mad Men’ and the beginning of the 21st,  there used to be an ad that contained the line,  ‘If you want to get someone’s attention… just … whisper.’

Works for me.  Howzaboutchoo? 

www.AiriftProductions.com ‘moving’ America … from NEW Orleans since 1984

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Airlift’s Micheal Ziants Recording VoiceOvers for New Orleans with Clear Channel’s Production/Creative Director Don Banks, Summer 2013

Pre-4th Holiday Weekend Native Irony

 

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Reflective food for thought as yet more Americans prepare to lay down their lives on United States highways this week and weekend…

“It is sadly ironic that the wine that is the Christian’s most sacred substance, used in the Mass to represent the blood of their God, has caused such a tragic trail of devastation within Native populations.

Meanwhile,  the Native’s most sacred substance – tobacco – has caused so many major health problems for so many Christians.” 

— whiteshadow

 

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Friday Deadlines?!? Whoa! Hold On a Minute…

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~ another sunrise over New Orleans, LA ~

“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch … to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Words of stunning insight, clarity and truth from my fave mystical, metaphysical, space cowboy running partner and disembodied spirit … culled from my first book of philosophical thought at Penn State all those years ago.

And words I’ve used to navigate and steer the Airlift ship through many choppy waters across these thirty years.

After all, from Harrisburg to Nashville and Philadelphia to New Orleans, I don’t have enough fingers & toes to count all the buddies, pals, and radio/tv vets that I’ve worked with, known, loved and respected … that just just aren’t on the planet anymore.

Work? It’s all Headlines & Deadlines.  And I’ve yet to find a hearse with a luggage rack … or a man on his deathbed whose last wish is that he’d spent more time at the office.

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VoiceOver Recording & Production … with a New Orleans twist