Tag Archives: Blackstone Audio

WIFI-92, The City of Brotherly Love & John St. John: The Rear View Mirror

A 1980s era WIFI-92 Bumper Sticker & T-Shirt Design.
A 1980s era WIFI-92 Bumper Sticker & T-Shirt Design.

In 1982, Philadelphia moved to a different beat in a different world. And I was fortunate and blessed to make radio magic there, shoulder-to-shoulder, with the legendary late Don Cannon, radio wizard Tom Bigby, the wickedly talented Andre Gardner, and the sassy, smokey Liz Kiley.

Yes, in those prehistoric days before the internet, the web, and a digitally-connected world, RADIO was the thing. No iPads, iPods, iPhones… if you wanted to hear your favorite song, you turned on a radio!

In 1982, Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office, ‘E.T” was huge at the box office, and my “office” was the morning drive chair 5:30 – 9:00 on WIFI-92!

One of my fave Rejection Letters during the post-WLAC 1981 Radio Job Hunt ~ just keep the Faith, Mike
One of my fave Rejection Letters during the post-WLAC 1981 Radio Job Hunt ~ just keep the Faith, Mike

Picked up on waivers from Nashville, out of work for nearly half a year due to Billboard Magazine’s fall ‘housecleaning’ at WLAC, I came to the attention of big Tom Bigby. He liked what he’d heard on an aircheck, called, we met during a layover at the Nashville airport – and he hired me.

It’s  really hard to find the words to describe the thrill of the morning call to the starting gate.  (Despite some mornings being the ‘snow plow’) I mean, what a challenge to be the first voice a person heard in the morning – in the bathroom, the kitchen, by the bed, under the car dashboard in the commute – in Phila-freakin’-del-phia!

Rockin’ the Cradle of Liberty ~ WIFI, Philadelphia.

Morning Drive Radio was exciting, pulse-pounding and very rewarding on many levels. But what I remember most about the Philly days/daze is Satur-days!

Airlift Mike (Ziants) aka John Saint John in the WIFI Production Studios 1982 (thanks to brother Andre Gardner for the pic)
Airlift Mike (Ziants) aka John Saint John in the WIFI Production Studios 1982 (thanks to brother Andre Gardner for the pic)

Every Saturday, from 10 am to 3 pm – the most listened-to weekend day part – I cranked up TURNTABLES, brought in the most amazing collection of VINYL and held court with “From Motown to the Philly Sound”!

It was my professorial, Dick Clark-ish, honky, white boy approach to the most sizzlin’, cookin’, excitin’, sex-citin’ hit music of the 20th century.

Temptations. Four Tops. Supremes. Junior Walker. Marvin Gaye. Martha & her Vandellas. Spinners. Harold Melvin & his Blue Notes. Barry White. Michael Jackson… all served-up with background, historical facts, dates, anecdotes – and fun!

** John Saint John Entertains Philadelphia on WIFI-92 ~ From Motown to the Philly Sound in 1982 **

“Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end” … but they did.

mqdefaultIn early ’83, the Bala Cynwyd-General-Cinema corporate crew decided to hire a consultant out of Los Angeles (only the name has been changed/dropped to protect the guilty), go ‘Rock of the ’80s’, and fire that morning John Saint John jock because he’s way ‘too adult and mature sounding for the new format’!? Really? 

But you know, when you’ve found a way to take all the shit folks throw at you … and then throw it over your shoulder to use as fertilizer for tomorrow’s crops, you roll with it.

In the ashes of every defeat lie the seeds to a greater or equivalent benefit.  And I am a graduate – with honors – from the University of Adversity.

Besides, New Orleans …. and my destiny …. and Airlift Productions were calling.

Pardon me while I pick up the phone.

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“I had the extreme pleasure of working with Mike of Airlift Productions for a project in 2016. He was professional, courteous and most importantly, fun to work with. Mike is patient and very thorough with his recording, making sure that what you want is done before he powers down the gear for the day. 10/10, I would work with him again.”– JARED GARCIA, Sr. Recording Engineer for Blackstone Audio and Downpour.com

 

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984

No Cat In This Hat … It’s In The Cradle!

MichealZiants.AkaJohnSaintJohn.HarryChapin.WKBO.1974
Singer-Songwriter Harry Chapin visits with John Saint John (Airlift’s Micheal Ziants), lower right, and WKBO Radio, Harrisburg, PA, 1974 ~ Oh my, the hair!

As I walked from yet another funeral just this morning (rest in peace, Raymond B), Harry’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” was still ringing in my ears.

For yet another person (two in the same week!) had incorrectly credited Cat Stevens with writing this song. Perhaps it’s the ‘cat’ thing, but make no mistake about it, “Cat’s in the Cradle” is ALL Harry!

But let me tell you the real story.

Every time I hear ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’, (like when I’m making groceries at the Rouses and it’s playing overhead on the store speakers), or I hear ‘Taxi’, or ‘W.O.L.D.’ … I always flash back to this day in 1974!

I was John Saint John, Harrisburg, PA’s ‘politically apathetic, tho’ ultra-liberal and semi-hippie rock ‘n roll disc jockey’ at WKBO Radio, and HARRY CHAPIN was making HIS mark on radio stations all across the USA.

In fact, as few today remember, in addition to his stellar music career, Harry helped to create the Presidential Commission on World Hunger, and in 1987, President Reagan posthumously awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal for his dedication and tireless humanitarianism!

What an extremely fine human being and incredible spirit this guy was… and remains today.

 

HaryChapinAutographToJohnStJohnWKBO.1974
“To John St. John ~ Thanks for giving my music a shot and making the day at Harrisburg such a pleasure! Good luck & Keep on Trucking! ~ Harry Chapin”

 

On the day these pictures were taken, Harry and I spent the entire day together at the Harrisburg East Mall, and had lunch together – cheeseburgers and fries – along with his son, Joshua, the inspiration for his only #1 song, ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’.

Oh, and the pride of Upper Darby High in Philadelphia Todd Rundgren of ‘Hello, it’s Me’ fame sat in the booth with us too! But that’s another story altogether.

Harry, Todd and I laughed, exchanged jokes and even got philosophical and metaphysical together.  Some memory, I’ll tell you that.

As Harry’s epitaph on his tombstone reads, Harry Chapin (1942-1981) … ‘Oh, if a man tried to take his time on Earth and prove before he died what one man’s life could be worth… I wonder what would happen to this world?’

Indeed, Harry, indeed.

WKBO.HarryChapin.ToddRundgren.MichealZiants.
WKBO Radio, Harrisburg, PA – ‘3-Ring Circus’ promo – with Todd Rundgren, Harry Chapin & son Josh, Cactus – and the WKBO gang – Harrisburg East Mall 1974 … Harry Chapin with son Josh shoulder to shoulder with John Saint John in lower right hand corner

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blackstoneaudiologo“I had the extreme pleasure of working with Mike of Airlift Productions for a project in 2016. He was professional, courteous and most importantly, fun to work with. Mike is patient and very thorough with his recording, making sure that what you want is done before he powers down the gear for the day. 10/10, I would work with him again.” -Jared Garcia, Sr. Recording Engineer for Blackstone Audio and Downpour.com

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Airlift PROductions ~ Making New Memories Every Day!  Audio Alchemy from New Orleans since 1984 …

 

Airlift Productions Goes to the Dogs! Arf-Arf!

ZakGeorgeRecordsAudioBookAtAirliftProductionsNOLA
Zak George records his audio book “Dog Training rEvolution” @ Airlift Productions New Orleans

The email came into the Airlift Studios, innocently enough, just a couple weeks back.

It was a referral (my favorite kind of email) from the Studio Director at Blackstone Audio, the largest independent audio book publisher in America.

Bryan had been referred to Airlift Productions & me by the same audio book producer who’d hired me to record James Carville for the first time. And the second time. And the third time.

The job?

Taking the words of America’s preeminent ‘dog whisperer’ and making them leap off the page in a new audio book treatment, in an effort to help dog lovers across the world wake up to a more ethical and nurturing approach to raising their little canine cuties.

ZakGeorgeMakesAudioBookTracksAtAirliftProductionsNOLA
Zak George articulates his humane – and human – approach to dog training at Airlift Productions NOLA

If you haven’t already, meet ZAK GEORGE!

Zak has simply stolen the dog training stage – from shows on the Animal Planet to the BBC, and from the late-night forums of Letterman to Fallon, Zak has 130, 895 Likes & Followers on his Facebook page and 1.5 million views PER MONTH on You Tube!

Whew!

Zak & I first met and went to work (?) on Thursday, October 6th, recording the audio book treatment of his destined-to-be bestseller for Blackstone, along with hot-shot producer Jared Garcia on the Airlift Studio’s phone-patch setup.

Together, we plowed through the introduction and chapter after chapter, while bonding and laughing, and creating the doggie lover’s ultimate tome – “Dog Training rEvolution”.

Sample just a taste of Zak’s genuine love & compassion for our favorite four footed furry friends in his most recent You Tube blast here ….

Monday and Tuesday we’ll be back at it – giving LIFE to words on paper… making Audio Book Magic!

Recording and mastering wave files into computers, and at the same time delivering sincere, honest emotion into headphones and speakers.

zakgeorgedogrevolutionbookcoverDon’t you just love people who’ve found a way to make life work?

I mean, a job is one thing … but when one has found a way to live life at the intersection of passion/compassion and opportunity/luck … well, that’s quite another.

I would say, “Zak, go fetch!”

But, apparently, he’s already caught it.

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JohnFMcElroyRecordsWithAirliftProductionsNOLA
New York-based Award-Winning Audio Book Producer records with Airlift Productions

“Micheal Ziants & I have worked on a number of celebrity productions together.  He’s a cool head in tight spots, keeping the talent moving ahead happily.  He has a wealth of experience at the controls and behind the mic, and knows what he can and can’t get — a valuable and rare sense of proportion.  Working at Airlift Productions remotely via Skype or phone patch is seamless.  It’s like being in the next room.”

— JOHN F. McELROY, New York based Grammy Award Winning Audio Book Producer

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