Tag Archives: J. Albert Dame

Confucius + John Saint John = Airlift Productions

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“Try to remember the kind of September, when you were a young & callow fellow…” ~ Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants as John Saint John, in the WKBO, Harrisburg, PA studios, circa 1976

It was the ancient Chinese sage Confucius who once said, “Choose work that you love… and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Joseph Campbell amplified this comment with his admonition, “Follow your bliss!”

Furthermore, the Cherokee used to tell their children that we are all ‘born with a song’, and that we all need to learn to sing that song. Not someone else’s song…. but our unique song.

Airlift Mike with the Tribe of Ziants, front porch, Youngstown, Ohio, circa 1962

Well, I actually used to fall asleep as a pre-teen kid in Youngstown, Ohio with a transistor radio tucked under the pillow, listening to far-off radio stations in Chicago (WLS & WCFL) and New York (WABC) dreaming of one day being a radio star.

To communicate with someone unseen without wires over great distances was to a kid the stuff of magic.  I wanted to be the magician – badly.

The millennial of 2019 would not even recognize the time.  At all.  No internet, no world wide web… no iPhones, iPads, iPods, or apps.  Video games?  Excuse me? Pong & Pac-Man were hardly even on the horizon. The compact disc & video tape hadn’t even been invented yet, let alone ‘cloud storage’ or DVD.  The 7-inch 45 rpm record, the audio cassette, and reel-to-reel tape was it. And it was magic!

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Along the banks of the Susquehanna River, Harrisburg, PA … 1st WKBO Music Survey – 1973

My very first rock radio job – being a disc jockey, an air personality – was at WKBO Radio in Harrisburg, PA.  It’s where I really discovered my true love – communications.  It’s where John Saint John was born.  It’s where I learned how to work a microphone as though it were a warm human ear… instead of a cold metal object.  And it was magic!

** Micheal Ziants as John Saint John On-Air WKBO Radio, Harrisburg, PA – 1977 … with Listener Introduction **

But the afternoon air shift wasn’t the full story.

Everyday duties – in addition to the air shift – included production! Every day… of every week… for five straight years, I produced radio commercials.  Little did I realize, but the seeds were being sown for Airlift Productions…. one day… way down yonder in New Orleans. Boy, was it ever magic!

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Airlift Productions’ Micheal Ziants, as alter ego John Saint John, standing behind John Travolta’s brother Joey at a WKBO Radio promotion, Harrisburg East Mall, 1977

** Micheal Ziants ON-AIR at WKBO Radio – Summer 1978, shortly before the move to KSD, St. Louis **

Work I love?  Following my bliss? I tell you what, give a listen to the LIVE On-Air WKBO Airchecks within this blog … and then you tell me.

And the challenge of translating all this On-Air fun & drive into self-employment as a recording studio owner & VoiceOver Talent is the subject for yet another blog, another day.  But, oh, what days/daze these were….

“Try to remember the kind of September, when you were a young and callow fellow….” ~ from the Fantasticks 

MichealZiantsAkaJohnStJohnWKBO-1976

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Magic from NOLA since 1984

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JohnDenneyRecordsVoiceOverAtAirliftProductionsNOLA“For voice over actors, the demo serves as a calling card and is unquestionably the most important tool in the pursuit of voice over work. Mike Ziants and Airlift PROductions produced my first VO demo and within weeks I landed my first job in the industry. Airlift’s state-of-the-art recording studio combined with Mike’s wisdom and expertise provided me with an excellent demo as well as the confidence needed to achieve success!” ~ JOHN DENNEY, founder & lead singer of the Los Angeles-based ’80s Punk Band The Weirdos – AND VoiceOver Talent

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Airlift Mike ~ Footprints In The Sands Of Time?

 

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Harrisburg Broadcasting: Images of America Book, written by Timothy P. Portzline … with Airlift Productions, John St. John, Micheal Ziants pics & stories

Footprints in the Sands of Time …. or skid marks at the intersection?

I guess it’s human nature for all of us to seek love and respect in life. From family, friends and co-workers.  And to be thought lovingly of and to be fondly remembered by those we’ve left behind is to never die. You know, “footprints”.

Well, as a life-long student of history and philosophy, I’ve read many a book on history, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been IN one … until now.

I don’t know what you – the reader of this blog – were doing in the 1970s, or even if you were alive in the ’70s, but in that decade I left enough creative blood and sweat in Harrisburg, PA radio station control rooms to fill a swimming pool!

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Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants as John Saint John, in the WKBO, Harrisburg, PA studios, circa 1976

And here, in the 21st century, Harrisburg native, broadcast vet, engineer & scholar Timothy P. Portzline has written ‘Harrisburg Broadcasting: Images of America’, wherein he devotes an embarrassing amount of ink to yours truly.

Available today through all the usual outlets and on Amazon here — ‘Harrisburg Broadcasting’ tells the remarkable story – along with images – of radio’s & television’s roots in the state capital of Pennsylvania.  Including that irascible John Saint John guy.

AirliftProductionsMichealZiantsFeaturedInHarrisburgBroadcastingBookByTimothyPortzline
Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants AKA John Saint John, featured in ‘Harrisburg Broadcasting’ History Book

Yes, it was my job every afternoon for over five years to entertain state workers (white & blue collar) in the ‘commuter combat zones’… topical, relevant,  cutesy, but never ‘rude, crude, or lascivious’.  And it was all LIVE and direct into car speakers years before the internet, web, mp3 players and digital downloads.

Listen to a WKBO Radio AirCheck of John Saint John from 1977, along with Listener Introduction here ….

This recording, along with a few others, helped to catapult me from Harrisburg to afternoon drive with the Pulitzer Family at NBC affiliate KSD Radio in Saint Louis the very next year.

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Pre-MP3/Downloads – in the days of 45 rpm records – a WKBO Radio weekly music survey, charting record sales … with John Saint John

‘Fun’ is too weak a word.  ‘Exciting’ barely captures the passion and drive.   Personality Radio to a then-20-something was EVERYTHING! It’s a good thing J. Albert Dame (WKBO owner) didn’t know it, but I would have paid HIM for the opportunity.

And to think, to this wild-eyed wanderer … New Orleans, recording studio entrepreneurship and Airlift Productions weren’t even dreams yet or even on my radar.

Just as well, we’ll leave it all to the History Books to sort things out and make sense of the whole affair. Footprints? Or skid marks?  Either way, I wouldn’t change a thing or trade a day. I did it my way.

In the meantime, the mics are hot and the creative juices are still flowing … in NOLA …  every day … at AirliftProductions.com 

MichealZiantsNewOrleansVoiceTalentAirliftProductions

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discovery_channel_logo“Micheal Ziants and Airlift Productions offer an excellent and affordable option for VoiceOver & Recording.” — Michael Morris, Head of Post-Production, Discovery Studios, Hollywood, California

Oh, Captain! My Captain! Remembering WKBO & J. Albert Dame

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J. Albert Dame as a young broadcasting buckeroo entertaining Kittanning, PA

Pardon me as I lace-up the Adidas for yet another jog down memory lane, but there are people you meet in life who change your life. Know what I mean? Meet one of mine.

It was the spring of 1973, and I wanted out of country radio and booth announcing at a TV station in Youngstown, Ohio, and INTO rock ‘n roll Top 40 radio so bad I could taste it!

 

 

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J. Albert Dame, PA Media Giant, died June 5th, 2016

No one wanted to talk with me about it except this guy.

I first met J. Albert Dame, along with his partner Mike Rea, behind the closed doors of a 3rd story walk-up radio station at 31 North Second Street in Harrisburg, PA. Program Director, Alexander-in-the-morning (Bob Klepic), wanted to give me the afternoon drive shift at the Rock of Harrisburg WKBO, but the decision rested on J. Al’s shoulders.

April-May 1977 Harrisburg, PA Arbitron Afternoon Ratings for John Saint John
April-May 1977 Harrisburg, PA Arbitron Afternoon Ratings for John Saint John (WKBO is underlined)

He took the gamble, and my real radio career was off to the races. He trusted me (what was he thinking?) with a LIVE microphone every afternoon for over five years, as I learned on-the-job what REAL radio was about, while earning a buck – and his TRUST.

My business card in the '70s - made for me, and given to me by J. Albert Dame
My business card in the ’70s – made for me, and given to me by J. Albert Dame

I was a then-twenty-year-old, away from home in the big city, and J. Al was like a 2nd father to me, doling out advice, compassion, and genuine concern for my well being.

Ironically, while Al loved what I brought to the mic on-air in afternoons, many was the time that he told me that my future would be in production!

Thanks, Al.  For everything.

Well, this past weekend, Mr. Dame decided to drop his body…and move on to the ‘other side’, and I wanted to pay him homage and love and respect by sharing this brief note with you.

J. Al's Memo to the WKBO staff upon John Saint John's exit for St. Louis
J. Al’s Memo to the WKBO staff upon John Saint John’s exit for St. Louis

As the world of broadcasting observes a moment of dead-air silence at his passing, I merely wanted to add my heartfelt sentiments and admiration.

Peace, prayers & angelic support to the Dame family, may God Bless You, Al, and let me spin one from New Orleans for you, Oh,Captain, My Captain …”Oh, when the Saints…go marchin’ in….”

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