When Is A VoiceOver MORE Than A VoiceOver?

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

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


native american girl with dove

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


native american spirituality

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


~ 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.


$2,060,207.00! For Children’s Hospital New Orleans!


Thank You, New Orleans! 

From dens in Metairie to kitchens in Marrero, from flat screens in downtown bars to smart phones on the I-10, southeast Louisiana opened up it’s hearts and it’s wallets this weekend in support of our New Orleans Children’s Hospital.

Did they ever – to the tune of $2, 060,207.00!

Your local Knights of Columbus chapters, Kiwanis Clubs, businesses big and small all did their part to make this year’s Children’s Hospital Telethon the biggest and best ever.


And the krewe at Airlift Productions, together with the gang at the Music Shed on Euterpe, were thrilled to play our part producing and recording the music for the telethon video ‘Be At Ease’ which helped to drive interest and ring the phones for all those pledges.

On a personal note, as one who spends most of his time creating audio magic from a dimly lit digital cave … stepping out onto a brightly-lit telethon stage along with dynamic television news folks and personalities was an eye-opening experience indeed.

I’d like to thank Heath Allen, Margaret Orr, and Norman Robinson for making me feel so welcome and at home.  And for the laughs & memories.

Whew! $2,060,207.00! That will sure buy a lot of tongue depressors.

Viva Children’s Hospital!


Safe at Home … with Children’s Hospital & Airlift Productions


                ~ Children’s Hospital Miracle Network Telethon – May 31st, 2014

            (L-R) Micheal Ziants, Heath Allen, Norman Robinson, Brian Landry ~ 

What a time last night at WDSU-TV with Heath Allen, Norman Robinson, Brian Landry & the whole Children’s Hospital krewe, as we all banged the drum – loudly – in support of the kids who need it most right here in our own backyard.

As I write these words the telethon continues …  and the video produced for the telethon from music created at the Music Shed & Airlift Productions continues to work it’s media magic!

Pause to consider, words are one thing and pictures are yet another. We’ve all heard the old maxim, ‘One picture is worth a thousand words’, right?

Well, marry MOVING pictures to an emotionally poignant song via a compelling, moving video presentation, and that’s got to be worth at least a million, eh? Or perhaps two?

Heath Allen and Channel 6 edit bay maestro Ben Greene sure have spun a tale as old as time … and yet as new as the newborn in a proud parent’s arms.

Witness ‘BE AT EASE’ right now – streaming to your PC, Mac, I-Phone, I-Pad or Android, Full Screen if you choose – on the Airlift Productions website at —

Then, grab your plastic and call 1-866-207-5437 to make your
pledge in good faith and in support of the compassionate mission lived
every day down at our Children’s Hospital.

Perhaps our recently departed poetic muse Maya Angelou said it
best as she captured the relieved parents walking out Children’s doors –
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget
what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Hitting It Out of The Park for Children’s Hospital!


~ Rich Lenz Farewell Party at the Airlift Studios, as Rich prepped to move to Tulsa, OK
      (L-R) Brian Landry, Norman Robinson, Rich Lenz, Micheal Ziants ~

It’s kind of a conundrum ain’t it?  ‘Life is a Gift’ …  and ‘Life just ain’t fair’! 

The signposts are Life & Death.  Sad to say, but sometimes the two are frighteningly close.  
And if Life indeed throws us a curve, thank God for those who help us swing into the pitch!

This weekend it’s ‘batters up’ as WDSU-TV once again hosts the Children’s Hospital Miracle Network Telethon beginning Saturday afternoon and running through Sunday.

And once again the WDSU-Airlift Productions Healing House Krewe – under the direction of Rich Lenz, along with an assist on the play from Mike Dorsey & the Music Shed gang –  have teamed-up to hit one out of the park with this year’s theme song ‘Be At Ease’.

While I have yet to witness Heath Allen & Ben Greene’s video treatment of the tune, I trust that it too will be a homerun – with the bases loaded!

Sneak preview ‘Be At Ease’ – listen or download it by clicking here –

Please tune-in this weekend and then pledge your support for our Children’s Hospital down on Henry Clay.

Yeah, sometimes Life may not be fair, but perhaps we can help a kid or two hedge their bets.  God Bless.

p.s. And God Speed, Brother Norman!  We will truly miss your rock-solid presence,            calming voice and steady hand at the WDSU Nightly News Desk.

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<div><b><i>~ the WDSU-Healing House Krewe (L-R) Micheal Ziants, Norman Robinson, Heath                             Allen, Rich Lenz – at the WDSU studios during the telethon ~</i></b></div>
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Mom’s Day? Any Day, Micheal says ‘Make it Mignon’

As a VoiceOver dude, I’m often asked to stretch. Sometimes it’s a monster truck rally in the Superdome  – ‘in the mud!’ (you know, the really IN YOUR FACE stuff) … and then there’s the poignant, soft, caressing, ‘ear candy’ reads.
I’ve got to admit, relaxing and going where my voice naturally lives is really where I want to spend most of my time.   Wouldn’t you?
A classic case in point is a spot the Destination Network guys requested from me, and is now playing on all the New Orleans hotel flat screens to promote the totally unique and totally New Orleans creations of renowned jewelry artist Mignon Faget.
Don’t you just love the classic postcard shots of New Orleans and the way the video, along with the voice track, helps to capture the romance, mystique and playfulness of not only our city – but Mignon’s sense of culture, heritage & artistry?
A tall order, but I think the crew in the edit bays at Destination Network in Panama City more than filled the bill.  Mignon liked it, and I hope you do too. 
For Mother’s Day – or any day – you’ll find Mignon’s creations here www.mignonfaget.com and you’ll always find me ~ Micheal Ziants, Mike McCann, John Saint John ~ at your service here —  New Orleans Premier VoiceOver Studio – Airlift Productions

“When Is a Song More Than a Song?” ~ Part II


~ “Be At Ease” Music Shed, New Orleans, April 4th 2014 ~
(L-R) Micheal Ziants, Heath Allen, Ben Lorio, Rich Lenz, Jerry Christopher, Mike Dorsey

When the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans Children’s Miracle Network Telethon airs on WDSU-TV next month, pay special attention to the theme song, “Be At Ease”.

I have recorded many music projects over the years at Airlift Productions, but never ever, ‘not no, but uh-uh’ –  one quite like this!

Rich Lenz bounced the original idea off the team in the summer of 2013, but I doubt any of us at the time realized exactly how daunting and ambitious it would all turn out to be.

On April 4th, Rich, Heath Allen, Jerry Christopher, Justin Davi and I all joined ace, crack (this guy is so good!) engineer Mike Dorsey down at New Orleans’ Music Shed on Euterpe to record all the basic guitar, bass, drums & piano tracks.

We then brought the wave files back to Airlift Productions and went to work.

April 5th was a busy day in the Airlift ‘hood – we recorded vocals with Rich & Heath first, then Norman Robinson & Brian Landry joined us to lay-down trumpet & euphonium tracks.  The mix was starting to get deep.  But we weren’t done.

April 7th, Bo “Boots” Walker visited Airlift to add percussive grooves.  Yes, something as simple as a tambourine & egg shaker sure adds sizzle & pop.

In the subsequent two weeks, from two different recording setups in Tulsa, two additional tracks were sent via the internet to the Airlift Studios.

Oklahoma’s Musical Ambassador & violin virtuoso Kyle Dillingham sent-in his violin addition, while Rich’s daughter Claire Lenz recorded her vocal tracks at the recording facilities of Oral Roberts University – and then sent them to Airlift & me.

And now – the real work began!  Can you imagine taking all these different sources from all these different studios and all these varied talents – and crafting a finished, harmonious, and balanced mix?

Well, the proof of the pudding, they say, is in the tasting. Listen or Download right here
                                “Be At Ease” 2014 CMN Telethon Theme

                      (and No egos were harmed in the making of this recording)


~ the Three Amigos, brotherhood in the ‘hood  at the Airlift Studios, Summer 2013
(L-R) Rich Lenz, Micheal Ziants, Heath Allen ~

Airlift Productions, a Catalyst for Positive Change … since 1984

Airlift Productions asks “When is a Song More Than a Song?”

Airlift Studios_L-R_Micheal Ziants.Heath Allen.Rich Lenz.Brian Landry.ChildrensHospital Theme Song 2014

                 ~ the Airlift Productions-Children’s Hospital Healing House Krewe
                      (L-R) Micheal Ziants, Heath Allen, Rich Lenz, Brian Landry
                                at the Airlift Productions Studios, Summer 2013 ~

How is it possible to capture months of work & dedication that encompass four different recording studios, two different states, and the talents of many widely divergent individuals into a single blog?

Well, it’s not!  But I’m about to give it a shot.

Airlift Productions & I got involved with singer-songwriter (and now the amiable & dependable KOTV-Tulsa AM Anchor) Rich Lenz years ago, and began producing the Children’s Miracle Network Theme Songs with him in 2004.

This year’s recording “Be At Ease” is quite remarkable for a number of different reasons. Not only is it epic in nature and opus-like in scope, but it captures the raw emotion that stares the parents of the kids held in the care of our Children’s Hospital squarely in the face.

Accidents, by their very nature, happen when one least expects it and almost always at inopportune times. The ‘Be At Ease’ narrative begins with ‘Tomboy Pete’ falling out of a tree … while the father is working at the rig offshore. Drama ensues.

And the musical contributions are most amazing: Heath Allen steps to the forefront this year with his heartfelt lead vocals, Rich Lenz, in addition to composing & writing the song, adds sparkling guitar tracks & a passionate chorus, Claire Lenz’s vocals married to Kyle Dillingham’s violin make for hauntingly sublime refrains, and Norman Robinson & Brian Landry punch it up with solid, insistent horn work.  Add to that the steady drumming & piano tracks of the Music Shed’s Mike Dorsey & Justin Davi, together with Jerry Christopher’s throbbing bass & Bo Walker’s tambourine – and you’ve got quite a remarkable effort!

And yours truly?  Well, I was honored and thrilled to slide the faders and punch the buttons.

Be among the first to bear witness to the 2014 Children’s Hospital of New Orleans Miracle Network Theme – “Be At Ease” ! Listen or Download here –

“Be At Ease” 2014 CMN Telethon Theme

Then, make sure to catch the telethon on WDSU-TV next month, and
pledge early and often in support of the many talented & dedicated
doctors down at Children’s. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

Airlift Studios_L-R_Norman Robinson.Brian Landry.CMN Telethon Theme Songs,Airlift Productions New Orleans

      ~ the Healing House ‘Soul Men’, laying-down horn tracks at the Airlift Studios
                         Norman Robinson & Brian Landry, April 2014 at Airlift ~

VoiceOver Recording & Production … with a New Orleans twist