Tag Archives: Chef John Besh

Christmas 2019 Reflections & What Most Don’t Get About Airlift Mike

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With Christmastime in New Orleans, together with all its trappings and sentiment in everyone’s windows and minds, allow me to tap the brakes for a second, reflect, and unpack a few things.

As a lifelong learner and student of philosophy, world religions, and mystical thought, it would be safe to say that I’ve lived  what could best be termed an unconventional and totally unorthodox lifestyle.

While most of my peers have chased money and jobs, I learned years ago to instead pursue passion and purpose. And then simply allow the dollars and opportunities to fall in line. 

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One illustrative case in point is this one I share with you here: In my now 35 years of owning and operating Airlift Productions here in New Orleans, I have NEVER commuted to work!

Ever.

As the great souls Emerson & Thoreau taught me, “Build a better mousetrap – and the world will beat a path to your door.”

They have.

Imagine, if you can, the colorful characters, historical heroes, fascinating personalities and captivating individuals who’ve knocked at the Airlift Studio doors to come “work” with me.

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Airlift Productions, New Orleans’ Foremost VO Recording Studio

I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have recorded and worked hours on end closely together with (deep breath) and in no particular order….

Archie Manning, Dr. John, Chef John Besh, Quvenzhane Wallis, Deuce McAllister,  Charles Guggenheim, Necar Zadegan, Mayor Marc Morial, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Stacy Head, Nathan J. Robinson, David Menasche, Carrie Nye, Bo Walker, Buddy Stall, John Lee, Luno Bordelon, Jerry Christopher, Steve Blaze, Ronnie Lamarque, Anders Osborne, Theresa Andersson, Rachel Wulff, Scott Walker,  Lee Zurik, Zak George, Congressman Steve Scalise, James Carville, Mary Matalin,  Alden Ehrenreich, Toby Kebbell, The Krewe of Nyx, John “Spud” McConnell, Morris Bart, P.H. Fred, Mike Weldon, Reverend Avery C. Alexander, Brad Edelman, Rich Lenz, Norman Robinson, Heath Allen, Anne Gisleson, Sean O’Shea, Lewis Johnson, Greg DiLeo, Nathan Ales, Donald Surtain, the Right Lane Bandits, Bishop Paul Morton, Senator Jon Johnson, Congressman Bill Jefferson, Edoardo Ballerini, Oliver Thomas, Morgus the Magnificent, and… well, a host of multi-talented voice-over artists, stand-up comics & radio rebels.

Not up to speed on some of these folks? Let the Googling begin.

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Airlift Productions Studio’s custom-designed Mayan “Gift of Life” Stained Glass Window

The Punchline? Through all New Orleans’ intense weather – storms, hurricanes, blisteringly brutal summers, icy winters – each and everyone of these folks came to me, to Airlift Productions, to “the better mousetrap”.

Mind you, this is no brag, no empty boasting, but simply an observation as to a much richer and fulfilling way to live one’s life.

And what a life.

Marching to the beat of one’s own Walkman – instead of following the crowd – has always led to experiences few will ever get to taste.

Having discovered my first tape recorder at age 12, and after many years of stage-acting and then a rewarding radio career, how cool is this?

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Micheal Ziants and the new “Annie” Quvenzhane Wallis, recording for Chrysler and sharing a few laughs at Airlift Productions

I now get to live out the rest of my life here in NOLA from what was once only a dream in my head, from my Airlift Productions… and I now get to spend the rest of my days dancing with the very same muse that first brought me to the party!

During this Christmastime 2019, my holiday hope and prayer is that you, the reader of these words, if you haven’t yet… one day… find … yours.

Merry Christmas & Feliz Navidad from way down yonder in New Orleans – and Airlift Mike. 

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Rachel Wulff records her VoiceOver Demo at Airlift Productions NOLA

“Micheal Ziants is a great voice talent who is generous with his time and energy. I have worked in TV for years, but needed the guidance of a professional to create my radio reel and found it with Ziants. He made me feel comfortable in studio and encouraged creativity, coaching me to a reel I hope will bring many job opportunities. “ — RACHEL WULFF, Former WWL & WDSU-TV Anchor/Reporter

Rachel Wulff’s compelling VoiceOver Demo produced by Airlift Mike

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

Tour Airlift Productions NOLA – Now!

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Broadcast Veteran – and Actor – Micheal Ziants, plying his trade at the Airlift Studios

Exactly how DOES one capture 30+ Years of Passion & Purpose – and, at the same time, project into the future?

Experience, quality work, testimonials, client lists, dogged determination & persistence are but words on paper.

Or digital characters displayed on a flat screen.

But America loves its videos. Oh, how we watch videos.

Cats falling off sofas, dogs that talk, folks falling off diving boards and couches caught unaware…

Well, take your own personally guided tour of my Airlift Productions Studios here in New Orleans via YouTube here, now.

And, what exactly will 2016 – and Beyond – hold  for Airlift Productions & me?

Well, as they say in the advertising world, “Watch this space”.

We’ll keep the studio cookin’ and  make sure that the mics all warmed up for you.

Oh, and be watching for that totally excellent shadow-doggie-on-mic video!

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  i-can-learn_cd“Mike is a craftsman.  You don’t often hear that word when describing digital media, but it most certainly applies to work done at AIRLIFT PRODUCTIONS.  Mike’s  produced literally thousands of audio segments for me,  and they’ve all sounded perfect.  He also understands how to get things done!  I wish all of my contractors were as responsive and committed to meeting deadlines.  You’re in good hands with AIRLIFT PRODUCTIONS.” ~ Ethan Anderson, Former Manager of Multi-Media Development for JRL Enterprises, Creators of the “I CAN Learn” Mathematics Educational Software
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          – – – ETHAN ANERSON,  Manager of Multimedia Developm

2016 ~ Janus/January and NOLA Airlift Reflections

janusJanuary is the month for reflection. And prognostication! (u like that word?)

In legend, named after the Roman god Janus, who had two heads & faces, January gives us all pause & cause to look back (reflect) and forward (predict/prognosticate) at the same time.

So, let’s do that.

As a VoiceOver & Radio dude operating a full-blown recording studio & production business in the great city of New Orleans, LA for now-THIRTY years, I guess it would be safe to say that I’ve got some pretty fascinating stories to tell.

From working with – and RECORDING – everyone from Archie Manning to Dr. Morgus the Magnificent, Quvenzhane Wallis to James Carville, Ronnie Lamarque to Dr. John, Mayor Marc Morial to Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Reverend Avery Alexander to Congressman Bill Jefferson (I could go on and on, name dropping, but you get the idea) – what a RIDE!

When it comes time to reflect, it’s like,  OK, so where do I start?!?

I sure do miss some old friends. How about we start there?

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Buddy Stall made radio magic for YEARS with Airlift Productions NOLA

I miss my old buddy Buddy Stall. As Louisiana historian, writer & public speaker, Old “Gaspar J” sure could spin a yarn. And always about the people and the town he loved.

Buddy passed (dropped his body) in 2011 at the age of 81, but not before leaving quite the mark on the Crescent City.

His books and speeches about “The City That Care Forgot” are legendary, and were they ever fun!

BuddyStallAutographToMicheaWe worked together for years. Ironically, one of his final gifts to me was the DVD of the special documentary he’d made of the great cemeteries of NOLA!

Give a LISTEN to just one of our radio gems that we cooked-up together through the years. This one is to sell our Louis Armstrong International Airport …

** The Late Buddy Stall making magic at Airlift Productions, NOLA **

Wow!

Reverend & State Rep Avery Alexander Recorded VoiceOver At Airlift Productions NOLA
Reverend & State Rep Avery Alexander Recorded VoiceOver At Airlift Productions NOLA

Or, how about having the opportunity to record the late Reverend Avery C. Alexander for an Academy Award-winning documentary film, as I worked side-by-side with the legendary Charles Guggenheim?!?

(I mean, really. Who wrote this screenplay? And how many ever get a chance to live this kind of life?)

The Rev’s candid, honest & heartfelt sentiments resonate and reverberate from last century to this one.

** Avery Alexander talks of David Duke, the KKK, and anti-Catholic & anti-Jew bias for Guggenheim Documentary at Airlift 1992 **

January 2016,  reflections on not only some of the great spirits who’ve spent time at the Airlift Productions microphones, but how about the BUSINESSES that have come and gone?

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The late legendary & seminal NOLA Recording Engineer Cosimo Matassa sharing a table with Airlift Productions’ Micheal Ziants at the Big Easy Entertainment Awards Show, Fairmont Hotel, New Orleans, 1991

I spent 17 years with Ronnie Lamarque “Bridging the Gap” (remember when he had 7 dealerships on both sides of the river and lake?), I wrote and recorded many commercials for Archie Manning when he & his partner Steve Smith had the long-gone Gold’s Gym franchise on Veterans … and one of my fave old accounts (which has sentimental bearing here) was David Ervin’s “The Daiquiri Factory”!

Imagine using kids from a daycare to “reminisce” (really, can kids do that?) to sell an alcohol-fueled Eggnog Daiquiri on the radio to adults.

Crank up the speakers on your digital device and listen to the gang at Judy’s PlayCare in mid city NOLA make you all misty, so you’ll open up your wallet to buy a daiquiri … back in 1992 —–

** Daiquiri Factory 1992 “Eggnog” Campaign – Airlift Productions **

Yes, from radio spots to television voice-overs, industrial training narrations to comedy albums, music projects to website audio, educational software to documentary films … life around the old Airlift Productions campus is never boring!

Ever.

And gee, I didn’t get a chance to tell the stories about recording Anders Osborne & Theresa Andersson right after they landed in America & NOLA, or capturing two entire audio books with James Carville (and the wife), or tracking VoiceOver with Chef John Besh for TLC!

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“Katrina-versary Get-Together” on Saturday August 29th, 2015 (L-R) Rich Lenz, Brian Landry, Norman Robinson, Dan Milham, Heath Allen, Airlift Proprietor Micheal Ziants

But, hey, that’s what January is all about, right? Looking back – and forward. 

Stories for another day, another blog, another time.

In the meantime, look us up at the Airlift Productions Studios. We’ll leave the mics hot and warmed-up for you.

As our old buddy James Taylor once reminded us – “The secret to Life is enjoying the passage of Time”.

So, let’s do that.

And allow me to be one of the last to say Happy New Year to you!

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Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants shoulder-to-shoulder with JAMES CARVILLE at the Airlift Studios

“I have been in studios from the Bayou to the Beltway, and I can say after recording my last two audio books with Mike, that there is no better place than Airlift Productions.  The quality of the production, the studio, and frankly, the comfort, make it the only place I want to record now or in the future.”

JAMES CARVILLE, Political Commentator, Tulane Professor, and Campaign Strategist behind the most dramatic political victories of our generation

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AirliftProductionsNewOrleansColorLogoAirlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from New Orleans since 1984! And … what’s next?