Tag Archives: Norman Robinson

New Orleans TV News Drops Anchor(s) at Airlift Productions

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(L-R) Airlift’s Micheal Ziants, Norman Robinson, Heath Allen, Rich Lenz at the WDSU-TV Studios for the CMN Telethon

Norman Robinson. Lee Zurik. Camille Whitworth. Rich Lenz. Heath Allen. Rachel Wulff.

Round up the usual suspects.

I have –  to record various voice-over projects here in New Orleans at Airlift Productions.

I first met and recorded Norman Robinson in 1991. He was fresh back in NOLA from the White House CBS-TV Network news beat, and was the newly-ordained anchor man at our WDSU.

Little did we then realize, or even think about future days, but the fact is, 28 years later, we’re still at it!

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Anchor man NORMAN ROBINSON brushing-up his VoiceOver skills at Airlift Productions NOLA

Our most recent project? Recording and compiling every electronic message for every streetcar and bus – even the ferries – in the city of New Orleans.

“Senior citizens ride the bus for only 40 cents”… “Please look around you for any personal items you may have left behind before exiting the vehicle/next stop, Canal Street.”

NORTA – the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority – tagged Norman and me to record well over 1,500 wav files for use in their system citywide.

** Norman narrates NORTA’s ‘Go Mobile’ App Tutorial **

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L-R, Heath Allen, Theresa Andersson, Micheal Ziants, Rich Lenz – during a break from the original HEALING HOUSE sessions, Airlift Productions 2004

Rich Lenz now calls  Tulsa, OK home, a gone pecan from NOLA for over ten years now (gee, Thanks, Katrina), but he served for 16 years as sports director/anchor at WDSU.

Richie and I’ve recorded countless tunes together, including epic anthems to herald the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon fund-raising year-after-year to benefit and support our Children’s Hospital’s life saving efforts for our kids.

** the 1st, of many, Telethon Tunes for Children’s Hospital **

 

Rachel Wulff records her VoiceOver Demo at Airlift Productions NOLA

After meeting WWL/WDSU anchor gal Rachel Wulff around the aisles of our local Lowe’s Home Improvement store, I helped Rachel improve her post-anchor life and UP her game by producing a VoiceOver demo for her.

Very nice.

** Rachel’s VO Demo, with her daughter’s cutesy intro **

Fox-8/WVUE’s solid anchor dude – and award-winning investigative reporter – Lee Zurik and I work together on projects for video ace Paul Atkinson.

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Airlift Mike, Lee Zurik, Paul Atkinson – “Glory Days” sessions

The latest project? VoiceOver for “Glory Days”, an homage to the passions and victories of Newman High School’s football program.

As it turns out, Lee was on the same team at Newman with a local boy-made-good you may have heard of – the NFL’s Peyton Manning.

** Lee Zurik narrates “Glory Days” with Airlift Mike **

Man, that must’ve been some wild locker room, huh?

(BTW,  Lee, do you wanna send that sassy Kim Holden over for a recording session sometime?)

L-R. Micheal Ziants, Heath Allen, Rich Lenz, Brian Landry, making music at Airlift Productions NOLA

The Airlift Productions studio doors are always open to Heath Allen, veteran reporter for decades at WDSU.  Heath carved-out his reputation in the early days all over Baton Rouge TV.

His compassionate, and knowledgeable in-the-field reporting is always incisive and spot-on. And he picks quite a guitar, at that.

2019 continues to see local NOLA news veteran Camille Whitworth drop by from time to time for various VO commercial and industrial projects.

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Camille Whitworth sets the VO mood at Airlift Productions NOLA

Camille dedicated years to  the anchor chair at WDSU, and today fills her days public speaking, doing on-camera work for our East Jefferson Hospital, and recording various VoiceOver projects for clients in and around NOLA.

Dependable, personable, and experienced, Camille is always fun to have around the Airlift Studios.

There is simply no reason or need for news anchors to walk away from their skills & finely-honed talents when they walk away from the nightly news anchor desk.

Norman, Rich, Heath, Rachel, Lee & Camille are all exceptionally fine and experienced talents with, as the expression goes, ‘ a lot of good miles left on their tires’.

It has also been said, and rightly so, that journalism, as well as the nightly news, is ‘History – the first draft’.

I am so gratified – and humbled – that these remarkable ladies and gentlemen have all chosen to work with me and Airlift Productions to write new chapters.

And, as Paul Harvey used to intone, tell ‘the rest of the story’.

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

“I’ve 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 & Campaign Strategist behind the most dramatic political victories of our generation

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Airlift Productions – where the warmth of analogue lives. And the lightning speed of digital delivers.

 

 

Airlift Productions – From Dream to Reality Brick by Brick on Iberville

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Airlift Productions 3927 Iberville Street location, under construction in 1989

If you ever recorded at or visited or got silly during Friday ‘happy hours’ at the now-the-stuff-of-legend Airlift Productions Iberville Street location … have you ever paused to consider what it took to create that remarkable space?

It’s not too bold a statement to say that my blood is quite literally in the mortar that holds the very bricks in this wall together!  For though I am not a mason or a brick layer, I certainly played one in 1989 on Iberville Street.

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Airlift Productions Proprietor Micheal Ziants ~ like a proud papa ~ at the Airlift shingle, Iberville Street, NOLA 1992

With the help of just one other guy (Joe Delery now works in the crime division of the NOPD), I also pounded the nails, hung & floated sheet rock, packed insulation, laid carpet, and wired the entire facility. Whew! 

And oh, the people who were destined to walk through that front door to record within these walls … Peyton & Eli’s pop Archie Manning,   Mayor Marc Morial, his mother Sybil, the Rev. Avery C. Alexander, Dr. Morgus the Magnificent, Ronnie Lamarque, I CAN Learn founder John R. Lee, WDSU’s Norman Robinson …

Dr. John Autograph to Airlift Mike on old Airlift Iberville Street Notepad
Dr. John Autograph to Airlift Mike on old Airlift Iberville Street Notepad

Dr. John (Mac Rebennack), Oliver Thomas, Senator Jon Johnson, Congressman Bill Jefferson, Academy Award winning documentary film maker Charles Guggenheim, Anders Osborne, Theresa Andersson, Bishop Paul Morton…

And a whole host of radio rebels, stand-up comics, misfits, in-laws & outlaws!

The mantra through the entire construction stage was ‘Build it…and they will come!’  What a passion, what a studio… what a time!

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Airlift Productions – as it looked in 1992 on Iberville Street … Reel-to-reel analog decks, outboard gear & mixer, the way recording used to be done. Oh, if only you’d lived then, kids.

 

** A “Mike McCann” classic VoiceOver/Production Demo from the 90s, all produced on Iberville with R-R tape – for NOLA clients like WVUE-TV, Pat O’Brien’s, Times-Picayune, etc. ***

But as much as I loved this location, Iberville street, the elevator, my Endymion parties, and having Venezia’s Italian food, Angelo Brocato’s, Mandina’s & Liuzza’s but a block or two walk away … I flooded twice at this location – and this was well before Mother Katrina came to town!

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Airlift Proprietor Micheal Ziants outside the Iberville haunts, shortly before the 2001 move to Pomona

So, I ran with my prophetic visions and in early 2001 moved the entire Airlift Productions business well out of the flood plain and to the high ground just the other side of the now-infamous breached 17th Street Canal .  To start over.

Yet again.

But Airlift on Pomona – along with its construction & marketing challenges – is the story for another blog and another time.

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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 & Ultra-busy AudioBook Narrator

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New Orleans Premier VoiceOver & Recording Studio  ~ Audio Alchemy from the Big Easy … since 1984

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

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“How I Spent My Summer Vacation” ~ at Essence Fest 2018!

Airlift Mike Essence Fest Tweet July 2018

With all due respect to Jada, Tiffany, Regina, and the Queen, a “Girls’ Trip” this wasn’t! Not as crazy, foul or funky, but what a trip it was.

When the early June call came into my Airlift Productions Studios from a “Sam” at NYC’s Team Epiphany, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the proposed job.

Samantha Whidby, project manager, had found my website via a Google search, and was looking for some help at Essence Festival 2018.

Team Epiphany, as it turns out, handles some pretty hefty clients, like HBO, Nike… and Coca-Cola; and they had their sights set on making some “noise” for Coke within the Convention Center for this annual epic summer extravaganza.

The job?

Put together a team of audio engineers to man two recording studio booths at Essence Fest to engage and embrace the consumer by helping her to record unique beats on drum pads using Coca-Cola sound effects!

Yours truly, in specially designed Coke recording booth, Essence Fest 2018

What?

The beats would be then recorded to computer, saved as mp3s, and then sent to the consumer’s email address, allowing her to then save it to her phone, and even use it as her unique Coke-Essence-Fest ring tone.

Like I said, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the gig.

But make it, we did. And how!

Let the “Boys’ Trip” begin….

Kind of like Tom Sawyer’s summertime tale of talking his comrades into helping him paint the fence, within a few phone calls I’d lined-up my summer vacation posse.

“Special Ed” Pepper and “DJ-HB” Harold Bonner hard at work, Essence Fest 2018

Accomplished full-time civil engineer (and audio savant/all-around tech-head) Ed Pepper, along with college student (and aspiring DJ) Harold Bonner agreed to saddle-up for the ride.

So, how did it all come out?

Well, across the entire Essence Festival weekend – July 6th, 7th & 8th – we recorded over 300 unique beats!

And gave the consumer more than a “Coke and a smile”.

We gave them customized, unique ringtones like this…

** Coke SFX Beat with R&B groove mp3 ~ Essence Fest 2018 **

** Coke SFX  Beat with Hip-Hop groove mp3 **

Gee, we sure have come a long way from the days of Mad Men, Don Draper, and those “I’d like to buy the world a Coke…and live in perfect harmony” jingles of the 20th century, huh?

But throughout history and on into the future, “youth will be served” – Coca-Cola, that is.

And beats.

Airlift Mike Essence Fest 2018 posse – (L-R) Harold Bonner, Edmond Pepper, Micheal Z

 

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” I’ve 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, former CBS News White House correspondent & Longtime New Orleans Television News Anchor

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

Airlift Productions: A Life Lived In The Hurricane’s Eye

AirliftProductionsInTheHurricanesEyeThe 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 who have for over thirty years resided… calmly, persistent & steady, in the hurricane’s eye.

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The Airlift Productions logo, conceived & trademarked in 1984, and re-imagined for the 21st century

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…

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a Google image search for ‘Airlift Productions’

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.

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A recent Google Search for “VoiceOver Production Blogs” – of over 7-Million possibilities, Airlift Productions resides on page One.

 

“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 ***

 

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Airlift Productions proprietor Micheal Ziants putting in another day at the office ~ along with studio mascot ‘The Shadeaux’

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.

What’s next?

Well, whatever it is, you can rest assured that Airlift Productions and I will be there … in the Hurricane’s Eye.

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Airlift’s Micheal Ziants (Right) with actor Joe Renier, On-Camera with TLW Productions for Seacor Marine … deep in the Gulf of Mexico

“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 

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984

… we’ll leave the light on for you.

Airlift Mike’s Katrina Confessions & Can Kickin’…Down The Road

 

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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 

*** “Originally published two years ago this week, with Hurricane Harvey’s harrowing Houston devastation, coupled with the untimely death of my best friend John R. Lee earlier this year (1-08-17), this Hurricane Katrina post takes on new poignancy, meaning, and relevance.” ~ Airlift Mike ***

Truth be known, the morning Mother Katrina came to town – August 29th, 2005 – I woke up at a Red Roof Inn in Jackson, Mississippi,  to which  I’d evacuated, along with my son, through the contraflow out of New Orleans the night before.

My running partners – Rich Lenz, Norman Robinson, Heath Allen & Dan Milham – all ‘stood watch’ and remained on-duty reporting the entire debacle via WDSU-TV for all to witness.

Painful.  Distressing.  Life-altering.  Even Apocalyptic!

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And this past weekend as we all got together at Brian Landry’s place just outside NOLA in Slidell… the ‘Katrina guilt’ began to set in … again.

Rich & his wife Leslie lost their entire home in the flooding. The home they had raised their kids in was completely destroyed by the breached London Avenue canal.  Norman Robinson and his wife had similar catastrophic results from the MRGO in New Orleans East.

Milham & Allen, living ‘out of Dodge’ in north shore haunts were luckier with their homes, but  still had to gut it out on-camera and tell the tale – of the horrors, struggles, death & destruction – while broadcasting  to the anxious, scattered-to-the-four-winds New Orleanians tuning-in.

katrina-here-lies-vera-88a444c77c3c4c55Meanwhile,  I CAN Learn educational software founder and my good pal John Lee, who stayed through the storm …. well, he was uptown at Jackson & Magazine street …. burying Miss Vera, left dead on the New Orleans sidewalk in the steamy August-September heat. 

As yours truly slept-in around the air-conditioned Red Roof in Jackson … and watched it all play out on TV.  The term was coined, very appropriately ~  ‘Katrina Guilt’.

So, after we’d all returned from our Katrina-cation, I patched-up the house and studio (hardly damaged, no flooding) and decided to get back to work myself.  With Rich Lenz.  And together, we created musical ‘salve for the wounds’. To wit …..

*** “I Ain’t Livin’ in the Bowl No More” ~ Rich Lenz & Company ***

Along with a cast of characters, we put together a bright, up-tempo, Garth-Brooks-ish take on Rich’s calamity on Chatham Drive. It all proved quite therapeutic, actually. For all parties concerned. We even talked Brad Edelman, former All-Pro Guard with the N.O. Saints, into playing his harmonica for us.  Too much fun!

*** “Up In The Attic” ~ Rich Lenz, recorded at Airlift Productions ***

Now, imagine – if you can – a woman climbing into her attic to escape Katrina’s floodwaters … only to die there! It was but one of many similar stories Rich had to cover for WDSU – and he came to me and Airlift Productions to just let it … all… out.  Again, therapy.

Then, we’d get together at the Airlift Productions Studios, join our talents, and put on a show for our Children’s Hospital with tunes like this one. Heath Allen and Rich would take the leads, along with Brian Landry of Children’s and Norman Robinson on the horns – the Soul Men.

All to benefit the kids down at New Orleans Children’s Hospital.

To close on yet another up-tempo & positive note, it is both interesting, and rather amazing,  to think that many folks around America – and the world – still believe that NOLA is UNDER WATER! Really.

They have no idea whatsoever as to our recovery.  So…. take a trip with me now – high above our City Park, with footage taken just weeks ago, courtesy of drone cinematography and witness true resilience….

** City Park, New Orleans ~ as seen from the sky via drone technology,             courtesy Todd Schmidt, Video Wunderkind **

Through America’s greatest tragedy, my media partners were indeed the heroes… while I was but the observer, albeit occasional confidant, chronicler and cheerleader.

Perhaps I need to visit old Lucy in the classic Charlie Brown cartoons with her ‘Psychiatric Help – 5 cents’ sign and booth.  Because the infamous ‘Katrina Guilt’ still hangs on after these ten years.  Well, look me up in another ten and I’ll let you know how I’m doing.

In the meantime, better days are on the way, America. They have to be. Keep the Faith.

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“Mike, thank you for 25 years of successfully teaching Algebra to children of color and students who were living in poverty. They aren’t living in poverty anymore thanks to you and the mathematical skills you gave them. They are doctors, engineers and scientists today.” ~ the late JOHN R. LEE, founder & creator of the I CAN Learn Mathematics Educational Software

 

 

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 Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984

“Anchors Away” ~ Airlift Mike Holiday Reflections

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Original WDSU-Airlift Productions-Children’s Hospital ‘Healing House’ krewe ~ (L-R) Heath Allen, Brian Landry, Rich Lenz, Micheal Ziants at the Airlift Productions Studios

It’s kind of funny the way life works, huh? We no sooner make our mark – than someone else comes along and spray paints the wall!

Rich Lenz worked at WDSU-TV here in New Orleans from 1994-2007, first as Sports Reporter, then Director, then Anchor.

Today, he’s in Tulsa at KOTV while Fletcher, Scott & Adrianna sit in his old chair down on Howard Avenue.

Someone spray painted the wall.

I first connected with Rich at a parochial school basketball game in 2002 wherein our boys (his Cameron and my Ben) were having at it … btw, St. Angela Merici went down that afternoon to the boyz from St. Pius.

In any event, Rich and I that day found our kindred muse – the guitar, music, Beatles & recording – and within weeks, Rich was bringing his ax “Sugar” by the Airlift Studios to make music, with yours truly as his engineer and producer.

It all started out innocently enough, with boy-meets-girl, boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, etc. tunes, but by 2004, things took a turn.

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Gambit article about Rich Lenz, Micheal Ziants and our initial shot across the bow for the Children’s Hospital gang – “The Healing House”

Make that a ‘turn’ for the better. Together with WDSU’s Norman Robinson & Heath Allen, along with a host of others along the way, most notably Brian Landry, Marketing Director for the hospital, Jerry Christopher from N’awlins cover band ‘Bag of Donuts’ & saucy Swede Theresa Andersson, we’ve recorded many Children’s Miracle Network Telethon tunes together.

 

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L-R, Heath Allen, Theresa Andersson, Micheal Ziants, Rich Lenz – during a break from the original HEALING HOUSE sessions, Airlift Productions 2004

The songs & videos capture the Spirit of the hospital’s staff, have been warmly received by New Orleans TV viewers, and have directly helped to open pocketbooks and raise millions of dollars in support of our New Orleans Children’s Hospital.

But back to the wall, the spray paint … and that mother Katrina. After losing the family home to Hurricane Katrina (the breached London Avenue canal sent flood waters to their roof top), it wasn’t long before Rich & family took off for greener (drier?) pastures.

Of all the tunes Richie & I have recorded together, his country-fied opus to his Katrina-ventures, “I Ain’t Livin’ in the Bowl No More” is among my favorites.

Think Garth Brooks meets Al Yankovic! Crank-up the speakers on your digital device and give this little ditty a LISTEN here —-

“I Ain’t Livin’ In The Bowl No More” ~ Rich Lenz – aka ‘Sheet Rock & the Spore Boyz’

Its been said that comedy and tragedy are forever joined at the root, and no doubt the humor in this tune came from some pretty damn frustrating heartache. Katrina survivors, you feel me? In a musical sense, I helped to sort of talk Rich off the ledge.

I love Karen Bailey’s back-up vocals, and on the harmonica? Why, that’s none other than former N.O. Saints All-Pro Guard (now quite the photographer) Brad Edelman. Oh, you should have been along for these sessions.

So, the happy ending? Rich, Leslie, Cameron & Claire now reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Rich is going gangbusters, anchoring the wake-up show on KOTV to #1 ratings! I don’t know about happily ever after… but they sure are happy… now. And we miss them.

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Rich Lenz, far right – along with his KOTV gang. Ironically and coincidentally still on Channel 6!

Around the beginning of each new year, it’s always time for reflection and giving thanks for the graces and kindness the Father Spirit has bestowed. And I certainly have been honored and blessed to have met and befriended this dude.

Upward and onward now into 2017!

Oh, and be wary of strangers in the night carrying cans of spray paint.

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Airlift Mike on-camera shoot with Tim Weston of TLW Productions - 2004
Airlift Mike on-camera shoot with Tim Weston of TLW Productions – 2004

“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 

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984

Christmas 2016 Reflections & What Most Don’t Get About Airlift Mike

frenchquarterfogWith 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. 

1407-nighttime-pomonacrateOne illustrative case in point is this one I share with you here: In my 32 years of owning and operating Airlift Productions here in New Orleans, I have NEVER commuted!

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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The Airlift Productions Studios on Pomona in 2016

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.

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

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?

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Micheal Ziants and the new “Annie” Quvenzhane Wallis, recording for Chrysler and sharing a few laughs at Airlift Productions in 2014

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.

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

2016 NOLA VoiceOvers So Far: “Round-Up the Usual Suspects!”

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Airlift Productions “Gift of Life” Stained Glass Window

I guess when I first conceived, designed, built and wired the Airlift Productions Studios,  I was dedicated to creating a space to create.

A space with a ‘vibe’.

A space with an aura.

Comfortable, relaxing, and yet stimulating all at the same time.

Every day looks different because natural daylight filtered through stained glass gives feedback on the day, and every sunset has a different hue… a different feel.

And the sound? Oh yes, it had to be killer!

Whether UP full blast and in-your-face or background mellow relaxed, Airlift Productions is where the warmth of analogue lives… and the lightning-quick speed of digital delivers.

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Veteran WDSU News Anchor NORMAN ROBINSON delivering the goods for Posi-Gen Solar

And check out just a few of the totally cool – and multi-talented  -individuals who’ve been ‘killing time’ with  yours truly already here in 2016 —-

If you live in or around metro New Orleans, these characters really need no introduction. But we’ll give them one anyway.

Norman Robinson, after handling White House duties for CBS Nightly News, and after spending 20+ years in the anchor chair at WDSU-TV, enjoys cracking the Airlift Productions microphones for VoiceOver jobs for various clients, including Posi-Gen solar.

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L-R. Micheal Ziants, Steve Blaze, Todd Schmidt – recording V-O for “Through the Veil”, March 2016, Airlift Productions NOLA

Heavy Metal fans all across the south have lost their minds to the tender, heartfelt refrains of Lillian Axe since the 1980s, and the band’s founder & leader Steve Blaze was by the Airlift mics to lay down V-O tracks last month for “Through the Veil”, coming soon to a flat screen near you.

Imagine. Steve is now a ghost hunter out along the bayou, cher!

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Deuce McAllister records PSA TV VoiceOvers with Airlift Productions, NOLA

Together with over 70,000 of my closest friends, I’ve stood (like a scene out of ‘Gladiator’) in our Superdome and chanted this guy’s name, as he pounded yet another one over the goal line.

The New Orleans Saints’ all-time leading ground-gainer/rusher, with over 6,000 yards and 55 Touchdowns to his credit – “The Deuce”, Deuce McAllister dropped by just last week to ‘drop the mic’ for the Mississippi State Dept of Protective Services.

We laid-down tracks for a PSA campaign slated for air all across the state to raise awareness to the plight of abused and exploited kids.

Let me tell you, Fox-8/WVUE-TV down on Jefferson Davis Parkway here in NOLA is awfully lucky to have this dude in its employ.

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Fox-8’s Lee Zurik, along with videographer Paul Atkinson, recording “Glory Days” VoiceOvers at Airlift Productions NOLA

Lee Zurik not only anchors the nightly newscasts – he makes news! Lee’s mantle above the fireplace isn’t big enough to handle all the awards – the Peabody, National Edward R. Murrows,  the Dupont Silver Batons… as his investigative reports shake up New Orleans almost nightly!

What many do NOT know about Lee, though, is that he was pulling guard for Peyton Manning down at Newman here in NOLA, as he and Peyton were high school teammates back in the day. Really.

We got together in February to make waves for a program called “Glory Days”, along with video dude Paul Atkinson.

And I haven’t even added my contributions – from radio imaging for Mike Church to TV VoiceOvers and radio spots for the local N’awlins market and beyond.

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An Airlift Productions’ VO session in progress, with Steve Blaze at the hot mic

I guess what I find most exciting about 2016 so far is the VARIETY of work: TV promotional V-O for a solar company,  public service announcements to raise awareness for exploited kids, high school football retrospectives … even ghost hunting on the bayou!

And the year is yet young.

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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

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To Communicate is the Beginning of Understanding. Airlift Productions Communicates.

Doctor Morgus & Airlift Productions House Calls: The Sequel

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Morgus the Magnificent – aka Sidney Noel Rideau Records VoiceOvers at Airlift Productions … for over a Quarter of a Century

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!

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E.R.I.C. the talking skull records VoiceOver at Airlift Productions

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?

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Sidney Noel Rideau ~ Founder & Creator of the Internet Story Club

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.

Sidney Noel Rideau calls it the Internet Story Club! 

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.”

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Norman Robinson in the Airlift Productions Studios August 2015

“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

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         To Communicate is the Beginning of Understanding

                                              Airlift Productions Communicates

Katrina + 10 ~ Memories, Dreams & Reflections From NOLA

NOAA's Official Track of Hurricane Katrina ten years ago on that Fate-full Summer of 2005
NOAA’s Official Track of Hurricane Katrina ten years ago in that Fate-full Summer of 2005

OK, as blogs go, this one may be a bit more painful than most.  And as I sit today, comfortably in the A/C, at the Airlift Productions Studios in NOLA, it’s hard to believe that as I write this, we’re a decade down the road.

Frankly, I do not have enough fingers and toes to count all the people that I know personally who lost everything – homes, cars, all the worldly possessions of a lifetime – through the aftermath of this one storm.

Folks who, like me, packed-up the car with enough clothes and necessities for a 3-day evacuation, convinced we’d be back home, snug in our own beds by Tuesday.

KatrinaSurvivor_9-1--05Mother Nature … and that Mother Katrina had other ideas.

As the ‘homes’ they returned to were buried to the rooftops in Katrina & Lake Pontchartrain’s floodwaters!

And as if ‘things’ weren’t enough to lose, I even had friends who – in fits of despair and hopelessness – chose to end their very lives.

 

Like I said.  A blog more painful than most.

Yet, as the Ten Year Anniversary rolls around  – Katrina roared into town August 29th, 2005 – it’s time for NOLA and the Nation to reflect. Reflect on where we’ve been.  And where we are.

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Micheal Ziants mic-side with Norman Robinson, working on ‘Storm Challenge’ for Versatile Productions & Versabar

Through the past couple weeks I’ve had the pleasure of working with Paul Atkinson, producer/videographer with Versatile Productions, who hired me to record my old pal Norman Robinson for a documentary he’s working on about the storm, the aftermath, and repairs made – to both our infrastructure … and New Orleans’ collective human spirit.

While it was good to work with Norman again, and meet Paul, at times the sheer weight of the project loomed rather heavily in the Airlift Productions Studios.

Give a LISTEN to just a bit of what went down at the Airlift Productions mics on this project,  remembering Hurricane Katrina….

** Norman Robinson records Katrina Documentary VoiceOver at Airlift Productions, New Orleans – August 2015 **

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Norman Robinson in the Airlift Productions Studios August 2015

Through ten very painful – and yet encouraging – years of rebuilding, along with all it’s survivors, I’ve heard all the aphorisms and cliches, but the one that reverberates most true is the classic – “That which does not kill us only makes us stronger”.

If indeed that’s true, to readers of this blog from around America, come on down! Come bring your tourist dollars, appetites & senses … and feel the muscle of America’s most fascinating & resilient city ~ New Orleans, LA!

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E.R.I.C. the talking skull records VoiceOver at Airlift Productions

 “No recording studio I have worked with has given such personal attention toward perfecting the ‘science of sound’ than Airlift Productions in the hands of Micheal Ziants.  I thank him for the many voice-overs and sound effects he produced for my syndicated television shows “MORGUS PRESENTS”!  ~ DR. MOMUS ALEXANDER MORGUS,  aka Sidney Noel Rideau

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