Tag Archives: Amy Landon

From Books-on-Tape to CDs in 1993? Courtesy Airlift Productions

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(L-R) Charlie Biondo, “Miss Linda” Mintz, Micheal Ziants, celebrating over 3,500 units sold, “Soft Words, Warm Nights”

While the world was still calling the genre “Books-On-Tape” in 1993, Airlift Productions self-published and successfully sold spoken word CDs to libraries across America – and to the world via the Playboy catalog.

I realize that this all sounds a tad mad, but let me tell you the story.

I first met New Orleans icon “Miss Linda”, Linda Mintz, during a session at the Airlift Studios on Iberville street in 1993 while recording radio commercials for a local client.

Our muses, along with the stars, somehow aligned after that session while Linda and I discussed our love for poetry… as we hatched the egg of an idea for an outfit we dubbed “WordMusic”.

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“Miss Linda” Mintz & Micheal Ziants (McCann), during recording sessions for “Soft Words, Warm Nights”, Airlift Productions, 1993

Linda, long known and loved by generations of New Orleanians as Romper Room’s “Miss Linda”, had been reared with a love and respect for the magic of poetry.

Yours truly, while working all over New Orleans airwaves as a commercial voice and producer, was looking to create a self-published project that had “legs”, would be “evergreen” and that we could get behind and market to the world.

Produced on Iberville Street (all on reel-to-reel tape), voiced by Linda & me, and backed by husband Albert Mintz… we called the project “SOFT WORDS, WARM NIGHTS”.

** “I Love You/A Bright New Land”… Soft Words, Warm Nights excerpt with Linda Mintz & Micheal Ziants **

Imagine the world’s most romantic poetry lovingly rendered – and cast against the lush backdrop of the sounds of nature, coupled with a meditative new age score.

Score one for the kids on Iberville Street!

** Bess, the landlord’s daughter sacrifices herself to save her lover, Mike Ziants reads the classic, “The Highwayman” from SWWN **

Together with marketing pal Charlie Biondo, we drew the attention of Bayside Distributors in California, produced cassette tapes AND CDs in 1993, were successfully reviewed by all the major trade publications, and took it to market!

** “Will You Love Me When I’m Old?” from SWWN **

After selling over 3,500 to libraries across the U.S., we attended the American Booksellers Association trade show in Chicago, where I personally pitched the project to Hugh Hefner!

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“Soft Words, Warm Nights”, featured in the Playboy catalog, 1995

Hef was back in his hometown that weekend to promote Playboy’s 40th Anniversary coffee table book and, little did he know it – but get a fast pitch from Micheal Ziants.

Playboy Magazine’s catalog then featured our “Soft Words, Warm Nights” in several editions, helping us to move over 500 units, saying that our CD created “Irresistible Ambiance”.

While I caught a lot of kidding & ribbing  from family and fellow radio pals here in NOLA over this entire escapade, it remains one of my favorite stories.

What wasn’t so pleasant?

In an attempt to get a major ongoing distributor for our work, upon sending our CDs to every single major AudioBook publisher at the time, we were not only turned down – but ripped off! 

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“Soft Words, Warm Nights” CD artwork, Airlift Productions/WordMusic 1993

As the idea – romantic spoken word, produced with music & sound effects – was copied within a year by many of them, along with known Hollywood actors that carried marquistype names.

(Sigh!)

Oh well, as the Bard once opined, “It is better to have loved and lost… than to have never loved at all.”

Besides, it still makes for great “Did-you-hear-the-one-about-the-BIG-one-that-got-away?” type stories around the bar and NOLA parties.

Furthermore, as we all know, “Never. Never. Never. Give up!”… and, “He who loves and runs away, lives to fight another day.”

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Airlift Mike, Micheal Ziants, reads James Patterson’s “The Chef” for Hachette AudioBooks, 2019

I haven’t. And.. I have!

I mean, back in the 1990s, how was I to know that here in 2019 my path would intersect with one of the world’s biggest and best-selling authors? 

Coming soon to earbuds near you, from the Hachette AudioBook Group, with a release date of February 17th, 2019… Micheal Ziants narrates and interprets James Patterson’s “THE CHEF”.

And, trust me, gang – Soft words and a warm night, this ain’t!

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“Working with Airlift Mike in NOLA was an utter pleasure. I was in town for business for a month and needed to maintain my audiobook recording schedule. Mike was accommodating and a pure professional. He mastered the punch and roll technique in 24 hours to be ready for our first session, and over the course of the month we laid down 5 books and a number of auditions. His studio sounds great. The vibe & atmosphere can’t be beat. You’d be hard pressed to find a better recording studio in the southeast – no matter what your needs. I wish I could have stayed!” ~ Amy Landon


Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from New Orleans since 1984 

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

 

 

An International Charity Outreach Involving Dogs, Humans… and Man’s Potential

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Ziants & O’Shea applying “The Good Dog Way” with Airlift Mascot ‘The Shadeaux”

I first met SEAN O’SHEA innocently enough when hired by a Los Angeles-based Video Production House to record him for VoiceOver tracks on a dog training DVD series.

Sean and I have subsequently recorded several audiobooks together… and have become close friends & running partners.

Mr. O’Shea is one of those rare souls whose genuine good nature and caring spirit shine through in every recorded track and on-mic performance.

After recording his “The Good Dog Way”, he returned to the Airlift Productions Studios earlier this year to record the audiobook which is the subject of this blog.

And when he wasn’t totally satisfied with his first effort, he returned to work with me last month on version two.

Wow!

“Closing the Gap” is Sean’s testament to the power of the human spirit, and its ability to reach its utmost potential.

As a student of Jim Rohn, Napoleon Hill, Wayne Dyer, Zig Ziglar, and a host of others, Sean sure knows whereof he speaks.

This dude has gone from the outhouse to the penthouse, from zero to hero, from the breadlines … to the headlines!

And now he wants nothing more than to share. How.  He.  Did.  It.

Oh, and while he’s at it – pay it forward at the same time.

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Sean O’Shea teaching Humans how to fetch … a better Life, at Airlift Productions NOLA Nov. 2017

100 percent of the profits – book and audiobook – will go to help build a school, to “Pencils of Promise”, to “Acumen”, to “Charity: Water”.

I mean, it’s one thing to give a man a fish dinner, and it’s quite another to teach him to fish. And yet quite another to give every man equal access to the stream!

You’ll find SEAN O’SHEA online at http://www.thegooddogway.com/ and you can follow his exploits on Instagram by clicking HERE.

The “Closing the Gap” hard copy and audiobook will make the perfect stocking stuffer this holiday season.

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Micheal Ziants & Sean O’Shea, navigating the twists & turns of AudioBook production, Airlift Productions New Orleans, June 2017

Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.  And giving.  And giving.

Oh, and should you be fortunate enough to talk personally with Sean, tell him that wacky Airlift Mike down in NOLA sent you.

Doggone it, Sean. You are the Best, my brother.

 

 

 

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Amy Landon recording audio books at Airlift Productions New Orleans, March 2017

“Working with Airlift Mike in NOLA was an utter pleasure. I was in town for business for a month and needed to maintain my audiobook recording schedule. Mike was accommodating and a pure professional. He mastered the punch and roll technique in 24 hours to be ready for our first session, and over the course of the month we laid down 5 books and a number of auditions. His studio sounds great. The vibe & atmosphere can’t be beat. You’d be hard pressed to find a better recording studio in the southeast – no matter what your needs. I wish I could have stayed!” ~ AMY LANDON, Los Angeles-based actress & AudioBook narrator

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To Communicate is the Beginning of Understanding.

         Airlift Productions communicates.

 

Airlift Mike: “Seriously Serious ‘Bout Bein’ Serious”

Truth be known, one of the biggest negative raps I encounter while marketing my VoiceOver talents is this: “Oh, but you’re a RADIO dude, and they always sound so ‘announce-ery’!”

Oh, really?

What few realize today is that my skills at the microphone began over a decade before I ever went “on-air” as a disc jockey – ON THE STAGE!

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Airlift’s Micheal Ziants  taking a dive, while playing Tom Edison’s best childhood friend Arvine Stevenson in “Young Tom Edison” , Youngstown, Ohio 1962

From Civic Children’s Theater performances in 1960s Youngstown, Ohio to the starring leads in high school plays, I honed my acting chops while “pounding the boards” on-stage.

I went on to become the President of my high school Thespian Club (even performed as Jack Kennedy, with mimic skills, at PTA meetings), and found the role of ‘Stage Manager’ in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” as my most challenging performance ever. Perhaps it’s that Life/Death thing.

No doubt, at the heart of any outstanding VoiceOver gig is the art of acting & theater, not radio DJ patter & chatter.

** Airlift Mike gets seriously serious for The New Orleans Mission & “Desperate Reality” radio show, airing Saturday nights on WWL **

But, alas, as the Danish theologian & philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once opined, “Once you label me… you negate me.”

I guess it’s only human nature to label others, but make no mistake – this particular radio dude has acting chops honed through a half-century of study, practice & experience.

** With over 7,300 views on You Tube, it’s Airlift Mike gettin’ serious for the Oil & Gas Production Hub of America – Port Fourchon, LA **

So, what I learned from the stage, I then took to the radio … and what I learned from both of them, I then took to create what is now the longest continuously operating recording studio in New Orleans – Airlift Productions.

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Airlift Productions, New Orleans

What an equation: Seriously serious acting chops + finely-tuned major market radio skills + decades of audio production & mixing experience = Airlift Productions.

** Airlift Mike AudioBook Demo, featuring excerpts from “Murder In Coweta County”, courtesy Pelican Publishing … a true-crime drama, dripping with murder, treachery & mystical powers in 1948 Georgia – oh, my! **

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Airlift Productions Audio Spin Doctor Micheal Ziants off the job

And you’ll find me … from anywhere, anytime, anyhow – as close as the cell in your pocket at 1-800-210-WORD; On-Line at www.AirliftProductions.com; or in your outgoing email box by simply clicking here – mike@airliftproductions.com

 

Airlift Mike: Seriously serious ’bout bein’ serious – from New Orleans since 1984.

 

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“Working with Airlift Mike in NOLA was an utter pleasure. I was in town for business for a month and needed to maintain my audiobook recording schedule. Mike was accommodating and a pure professional. He mastered the punch and roll technique in 24 hours to be ready for our first session, and over the course of the month we laid down 5 books and a number of auditions. His studio sounds great. The vibe & atmosphere can’t be beat. You’d be hard pressed to find a better recording studio in the southeast – no matter what your needs. I wish I could have stayed!” ~ AMY LANDON, Los Angeles-based actress & Audio Book Narrator

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Hurricane Amy Hits New Orleans

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Amy Landon recording audio books at Airlift Productions New Orleans, March 2017

Hurricane season in NOLA arrived a bit early this year.  Little did I realize when we first talked on the phone what a force of nature AMY LANDON was. 

“Hurricane Amy” had found my website, innocently enough, through a referral and a Google search. She reached out to me in January with her initial inquiry, but nothing in that call had prepared me for the drive, intellect, talent and passion that blew into New Orleans in early March.

Idaho native, Los Angeles-Nashville transplant, actress, writer, audio book narrator, voice over talent – and self-described ‘motochick’ –  Amy Landon was looking for a quality recording studio in N’awlins to help her record gigabytes of audio book work throughout March.

I said, ‘Why not?”   And did we ever.

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Los Angeles-based actress AMY LANDON records audio books at Airlift Productions NOLA

Working and recording together every afternoon, we created other worlds – from young-adult paranormal science fiction to dramatic whodunnit mystery thrillers.

And “Hurricane Amy” did all this with just the sound of her voice!

Creating believable character after character, painting scenic pictures, drawing the listener deeper with every ‘page’ of her iPad, Amy weaved audio book magic daily at the Airlift Productions microphones.

Having worked with many talents across many years – and with hundreds of sessions to compare hers with – I was struck by her dogged stamina and hyper-focus, especially after hours-long sessions at the mic.

** A very unique view of audio book production ~ with computer-generated wave files reflected off the studio glass **

For voice talents, no doubt, if the radio commercial or TV tag is the hundred yard dash, the audio book is the marathon!

And this woman is without question in for the long haul, a true hurricane force-of-nature talent, the real deal!

Case in point?

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AMY LANDON “motochick”, all decked-out for a date with her Harley

Amy’s now back in Los Angeles. Did she fly? Take Amtrak?

Uh-no.

She rode her Harley Davidson from New Orleans all the way home to the west coast. 

Solo!

 

Thankfully,  during her time here in New Orleans, she took me along for the ride.

For awhile.

And today, I still somehow find myself watching the weather channel, looking for strange hurricane-type activity boomeranging back towards New Orleans – from the west … instead of the Gulf.

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“Working with Airlift Mike in NOLA was an utter pleasure. I was in town for business for a month and needed to maintain my audiobook recording schedule. Mike was accommodating and a pure professional. He mastered the punch and roll technique in 24 hours to be ready for our first session, and over the course of the month we laid down 5 books and a number of auditions. His studio sounds great. The vibe & atmosphere can’t be beat. You’d be hard pressed to find a better recording studio in the southeast – no matter what your needs. I wish I could have stayed!” ~ Amy Landon

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Airlift Productions ~ telling America’s Great Stories from New Orleans since 1984