Boy, just when you thought you had all the answers … they changed all the questions!
Watching ‘Mad Men’ re-runs on Netflix the other night, it hit me again as to how completely flipped and upside/down marketing & advertising has become from the 20th to the 21st century.
We’ve transitioned rather dramatically from ‘interruption’ marketing to ‘permission’ marketing.
Think about it, from the local disc jockey hitting a commercial and joking about the station ‘paying the light bill’ to the network newscaster ‘interrupting’ the news stories to sell you stuff … ‘interruption marketing/advertising’ was, last century, THE way to get your message across.
Today – in 2019 – even the 7 year old child skillfully navigates the remote control fast-forwarding the DVR box through the commercials … and then turns around and price-comparison-shops from a smart phone in the aisles at Target or Best Buy!
‘Permission marketing’ in the 21st century ‘allows’ the buyer into your world when he is ready to buy. It gives the buyer all the pertinent information needed UPON REQUEST via the device they have on-hand – in many cases IN their hand – to make the buying decision.
So, telling your compelling story on-line, making yourself available 24-7-365, and letting the potential buyer know about your satisfied customers while on-line has indeed become the 21st century marketing challenge.
And no matter the century, it’s just plain human nature that people/buyers will put more trust and faith in what other people have to say about you … than anything you have to say about yourself.
The power of a well worded, sincere testimonial – let alone from someone already known and trusted – speaks volumes about one’s service rendered or product offered.
In a virtual world where, in many cases, the entire transaction is done without human interaction, smiles, winks or handshakes, and across miles and state lines – the testimonial creates trust!
And this is precisely why I’ve just recently dedicated many hours to revamping the Airlift Productions website’s Testimonial Page.
From VoiceOver jobs, music recording sessions & audio books… to telephone systems & educational software – Airlift Productions & I have delivered. Time and time again. From the last century to this one.
So go ahead, tap the 21st-century-brakes for just a second, hit the pause button on the DVR box, and visit the Airlift Productions~Ziants Testimonialpage here – when YOU are ready, 24-7-365 – and we’ll be there for you!
“Thank you Michael for being so accommodating, and making my job truly enjoyable. I’ve recorded in many professional studios all around Australia throughout the years, but I felt right at home and was really impressed with the hugeAirlift Productions recording space & booth you built. Recording with you was as easy as if I were in my own studio back in Australia – and that really makes for a successful session. All your wonderful compliments didn’t hurt the vibe either! My ego appreciates your generous, kind words. Thanks again for being such a gentleman.”
The National Weather Service defines the “Eye” as the region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones.
Metaphorically, the ever-changing media & technology would be the tropical cyclones/hurricanes, and Airlift Productions & I would be the ones whohave for over thirty years resided… calmly, persistent & steady, in the hurricane’s eye.
In 1984, the needs of my first full-time client – WGNO-TV/Tribune Broadcasting – gave birth to the Airlift Productions Studios.That very year Ronald Reagan sat in the Oval Office, the compact disc was brand new, and top-rated CBS affiliates WWL-TV & WWL radio here in New Orleans were owned by Loyola University (“World Wide Loyola”) and… the Catholic Church.
From the changing complexion of the White House to digital music distribution (and piracy), TV/radio deregulation and consolidation, and from Loyola’s WWL ownership to Gannett, Tegna & Entercom … my, how the media and technological winds have blown!
Meanwhile, through all the changes and through all the years, Airlift Productions and I have resided calmly and ever-persistent in the Hurricane’s Eye.
A recent Search Engine request for just two words “Airlift Productions” yielded the most remarkable result – in the Images section was an internet-search-generated montage of a Life lived in the Hurricane’s Eye…
There was every studio I’d ever built – from the closet at Rock Creek Apartments to Iberville to Pomona. There was Norman Robinson, Rich Lenz, Heath Allen, the Blue Angels, Morgus, Greg DiLeo, Sister Thecla, Quvenzhane Wallis, even James Carville’s feet on my ping pong table.
From radio commercials, TV voice-overs, music projects & audio books, to educational software, industrial training & safety videos, from cathode ray tubes to flat screens and broadcast to podcast – the Airlift Studios & I have shifted and tacked into the winds of change … while remaining calm & steady in the Hurricane’s Eye.
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence & Determination alone are omnipotent.” ~ Coolidge/Ziants
*** Micheal Ziants AUDIO BOOK Demo ***
And the winds continue to blow! My grandfather John was born before the radio, my father Charlie was born before the television, and I was born before the internet & digital.
Well, whatever it is, you can rest assured that Airlift Productions and I will be there … in the Hurricane’s Eye.
“We’ve worked with Mike for almost 15 years, both as voice over and on-camera talent in more than 50 films. Not only is he a great guy and a super talent, but he has the coolest recording studio in the South.” ~ TIM WESTON, President TLW Productions, NOLA
Little did Alden Ehrenreich or I realize when we first met that he was destined to become Han Solo!
Contracted to record some last-minute Hollywood South VoiceOver forAlden’s latest movie “Beautiful Creatures”, I certainly didn’t know what to expect that June morning of 2012.
In this teen-goth, supernatural, romantic thriller with a southern twist, Alden had been cast as the star-crossed lead lover Ethan Wate. And as the fates would have it, there were a few key monologue voice tracks left un-recorded when they got to post-production.
When I answered the door that morning there was Alden, boyishly handsome, with a cheery “Good Morning”…. and a pint bottle of Jamaican Red Stripe lager in his hand.
When I questioned this rather novel approach to a recording session, he said simply that “This is for after we’re done!”
So, after it we went. Together with veteran movie sound pro Jeffrey Haupt, screen play writer & director Richard LaGravenese, a dialect coach from London, and their entourage, we laid down VoiceOver tracks for this moody suspense thriller.
Witness a taste of Alden’s acting chops here; don’t you love the faux southern accent? I mean, he was born and raised in Los Angeles, with roots further back (like yours truly) in Austria & Hungary —
And more recently, Alden stole the show – and even upstaged George Clooney himself – in the 2016 Hollywood-Golden-Era homage Coen Brothers flick “Hail, Caesar!” as celluloid cowboy hero Hobie Doyle. Check him out here….
Fast-forward just a tick, then, and imagine our collective surprise when out of the thousands who auditioned for the part, the Lucas-Disney machine that IS the STAR WARS franchise just cast this dude for the Star Wars prequel – as the NEW HAN SOLO!
You go, Alden!
So, let me see, if Alden is 27 today, back when we met and recorded together he was all of 22. So, back to that day ….
After the session, he popped the top on his Jamaican Red Stripe and began to share it with me! We went slug-for-slug like Catholics at a communion rail, laughed, and talked of his past, present and future.
But little did either of us realize that day that the future would include his casting in the biggest movie juggernaut of the 21st century!
And today, that empty bottle of Jamaican Red Stripe is still sitting up on the Airlift commissary shelves, beside other noteworthy bottles of wine, scotch & Wild Turkey emptied after sessions past to celebrate & commemorate memorable Airlift Studio recording sessions.
My dear colleague, it was a true delight to visit and work with you in your digital laboratory. I somewhat envy your remarkable equipment, which far exceeds anything we can afford here in the old city ice house. Your audio production facilities are second to none, and I thank you again for the excellent recordings you produced for the Momus A. Morgus Institute.” — Momus
** A tested-by-time Testimonial from Dr. Morgus (aka – Sid Noel Rideau) direct from the old city ice house to the Airlift digital lab via email. Check the good doctor out anytime at www.morgus.com ***
With Christmastime in New Orleans, together with all its trappings and sentiment in everyone’s windows and on their 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 simply allow the dollars and opportunities to then fall in line.
As the great souls Emerson & Thoreau taught me, “Build a better mousetrap – and the world will beat a path to your door.”
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.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have recorded and worked closely together with (deep breath) and in no particular order….
Archie Manning, Dr. John, Chef John Besh, Quvenzhane Wallis, Deuce McAllister, Charles Guggenheim, Mayor Marc Morial, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Stacy Head, David Menasche, Carrie Nye, Bo Walker, Buddy Stall, John Lee, Luno Bordelon, Jerry Christopher, Ronnie Lamarque, Anders Osborne, Theresa Andersson, Lee Zurik, Zak George, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Alden Ehrenreich, Toby Kebbell, John “Spud” McConnell, Morris Bart, P.H. Fred, Mike Weldon, Reverend Avery C. Alexander, Brad Edelman, Rich Lenz, Norman Robinson, Heath Allen, Greg DiLeo, 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.
Not up to speed on some of these folks? Let the Googling begin.
Point being? Through all the crazy weather – storms, hurricanes, blisteringly brutal summers – 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?
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 muse that first brought me to the party!
My hopes and prayers during this Christmastime in 2016 is that you, the reader of these words, one day, find … yours.
Merry Christmas & Feliz Navidad from way down yonder in New Orleans – and Airlift Mike.
OK, it occurred to me after sifting through some of my recent posts, that with visitors to this blog from corners of the globe like China, the UK, Moscow, and even Nigeria… perhaps a few points might need some clarification.
Especially with Halloween now in the air around America… and thoughts & google internet searches about Doctor Morgus on the rise.
Throughout the many decades of Morgus episodes on late night TV, Chopsley was the good doctor’s right-hand man, his henchman, his willing (or not so, as the case may be) accomplice. So, for three decades running now, yours truly has served ‘the master’ as the REAL Chops!
Think the role of Alfred to the Batman. Or, as Uncle Sid and I have often joked in a more literary analogy, to borrow from Cervantes, I have operated as the Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote. Yes, Dr. Morgus, er ah, Sidney Noel Rideau & I have jousted at many a windmill… and we have both been considered a pickle short of a whopper by many!
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Sid & I (together with many others today) see much of today’s youth rather long on arrogance and a tad short on character – lacking true values, ethics & a moral compass.
So, what if we could reach them and teach them BEFORE they reach the age of reason, and give them important life-altering thoughts and concepts that will impact their future? And America’s?
Yes, despite Sid’s rather heady accomplishments entertaining generations of late night horror fans as Morgus the Magnificent, it is his ambitious approach to reaching today’s youth via stories, fables & parables that he really wants to serve as his legacy.
Consider this our attempt to use the very medium that has been a roadblock to education – the television – to enlighten, inform, and develop character in today’s youth. Some windmill, eh?
Witness this approach at work here. Sid does the intros and outros and leaves what’s between the quote marks to me, personally directing me through the reads, looking for a ‘voice of God’ sound and flavor. These public service announcements promoting the Internet Story Club – sponsored by the N.O. Public Library – air in the New Orleans market on Fox-8 TV when you least expect it.
These are but three – of 45 total – PSAs that we produced. With many thanks to Blaine Strawn and his incredibly talented post-production team down at WVUE-Fox-8 on Jefferson Davis Parkway
Allow me to close with one more, from my favorite running partner & metaphysical space cowboy, the sage of Concord ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ….
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”
“I have had the privilege of working with professionals all over the world. Micheal Ziants is among the best of them. His professional integrity is only surpassed by his love for humanity. It is perhaps his boundless humanity that drives his passion for his work and his compassion… to say nothing of his appreciation and understanding of the human spirit at it’s most creative level.”
— NORMAN ROBINSON, Nightly News Anchor at WDSU-TV, New Orleans for over two decades
As a close personal friend to the New Orleans & Late Night TV Icon Morgus the Magnificent and extremely gifted spirit Sidney Noel Rideau, it is with a heavy heart on this July morning that I pen this one.
Like most guy friendships, we can go months at a time without a chat and then pick right up where we left off, with a lunch or a recording session. So, in an entirely unrelated matter, I got Sid on the phone just yesterday only to find out that just months ago he had lost the one true love of his life – Donia.
While we had spoken often of her through the years, I only knew of her through her answering the phone or in the background during our many phone conversations between NOLA and the north shore of the lake.
Sid & Aldona met innocently enough in New York City back in the early ’60s while he was the struggling actor & radio dude and she was an interpreter at the United Nations. Really.
Their 52-year marriage included two beautiful children and a mutual love for the theater, the arts … and words. Oh, how they loved ‘words’.
It was ‘words’ that carried the lovely Aldona through Poland, England, Pakistan & Switzerland, all before even having met Sidney in New York. Catch up with just a bit of this woman’s spirit in her online obituary here Aldona Nalecz-Tyminska Rideau.
Sid’s beloved and adored Aldona served all through those turbulent & chaotic Morgus years as not only his silent partner … but as the wind beneath his wings.
Now, all this having been said, Sid would just kick my ass if he even knew that I was writing these words. Of all the people I’ve ever met in show business, radio or the theater – Sidney Noel Rideau would have to be the most personally private of all. Truly. He fiercely defends his privacy.
So, to the reader of these words, a simple request. For prayers. For the spirit of his beloved bride. For healing. And maybe one of thanks – for all the years of enjoyment & fun his on-air exploits have given generations of late night horror movie fanatics around America. And now, prayers for the woman who helped to inspire it all.
May God indeed bless you, Uncle Sid, and your lovely Donia.
“Don’t stand at my grave and weep. I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow….
I am the diamond glints of the winter snow…
I am the sunlight that ripens grain…
I am the gentle autumn rain.
Don’t stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.”
I guess it would be safe to say that in operating a recording studio in America’s most colorful city – New Orleans – for what is now THIRTY years, that I’ve worked with some pretty colorful characters.
From setting microphone levels for Dr. John and Archie Manning to recording projects with all of the city’s mayors ( Morial-2X to Landrieu-2X), verbally jousting with Mary Matalin & James Carville, even coaching ‘Annie’ Quvenzhane Wallis through tough V/O copy for Chrysler … my most unforgettable – and beloved – character would have to be Morgus the Magnificent!
Sidney Noel Rideau & I go back over 25 years together now; he has the distinction (?) of being the only person who has recorded at every recording studio I’ve ever built, every incarnation of Airlift Productions; He is the eccentric uncle I never had! I love this man.
We first met in 1986 while I was producing radio ads for and operating as the Voice of WGNO-TV/Channel 26 here in New Orleans, and he was reviving his ‘Morgus Presents” TV show. Our first gig together was in my closet-studio Airlift iteration where we recorded all the E.R.I.C. (the talking skull) heavily-reverbed V/O tracks for use in the shows.
Our relationship continues to this day. I almost feel as though I’ve become his real-life Chopsley, in that I’ve operated as his behind-the-scenes henchman all these years.
Together we’ve produced everything from radio ads for Cajun seasonings products to public service announcement campaigns for his Internet Story Club teacher-family outreach … but among my favorite sessions with my fave ‘Uncle Sid’ would have to be the one that is the subject of this post – ‘Marriage Insurance’.
As fate would have it, Sid’s Morgus character is also one of nationally-broadcast Coast-to-Coast late night radio host George Noory’s favorites too! And Sid stopped by the Airlift Studios in February 2006 to record a few ‘pilots’ for segments to possibly be used in Noory’s nightly broadcasts. I kid you not.
The proposed segments never did materialize (radio marketing in the 21st century is a very tricky thing), but this never-before-heard audio is just way too-funny and priceless.
It’s for the “Morgusian Marriage Insurance Company of America”, protecting your marriage from divorce, and includes not only Sid’s outrageous take on the state of marriage in America today – but I’ve also left in all the out-takes! I particularly love the way he slides in/out of character, and oh, that laugh …..
**** Sidney Rideau – aka Morgus the Magnificent – takes on the perplexing problem of marriage & divorce for the Airlift Productions microphones in February 2006 ****
Today, Uncle Sid is enjoying retirement on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in a tiny hamlet known as Covington, LA with his bride of all these years Dainya. They met in the late 1950s in NYC where Sid was being considered as a side-kick to Johnny Carson, and she was an interpreter at the United Nations.
For true! No, I could not make up a story as unique as theirs.
What a character, and truly fine & gifted, spirited human being this man is. Lucky to have had him in our lives we all are, and to have been able to bask in his light and genius.
Because, at the end of the day (as the white man is often wont to say), in the mythology of the American Tribe – Superman will always have his Clark Kent, the Batman his Bruce Wayne … and Morgus the Magnificent will always be remembered as the man who gave him Life – Sidney Noel Rideau.
In the mythology of the American Tribe, Superman will always have his Clark Kent, the Batman his Bruce Wayne…and iconic New Orleans TV late-night horror movie host Dr. Morgus (the Magnificent) will always have Sidney Noel Rideau.
Here in the 21st century, ‘Uncle Sid’ has moved on from his haunts at the Old City Ice House and yet embarked on his boldest experiment ever – using technology, the internet and TV to help mold and shape the thought and character of today’s youth!
It may all sound a bit zany and bold, but when did that ever stop Dr. Morgus before?
Airlift Productions and I are proud to have been tagged personally by Sid (just call me Chopsley) to produce and voice the public service announcement campaign for New Orleans television to promote his Sidney Noel’s ‘Internet Story Club’ website .
Witness a sample of the PSA promotion as it appears On Air – through the talents of Blaine Strawn & his uber-capable crew down on Jefferson Davis Parkway – now showing on a WVUE-TV/Fox-8 flat screen near you …