Tag Archives: Rich Lenz

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, 27 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 KOTV & Tulsa, OK home, a gone pecan from NOLA for over nine 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.

2018 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: 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.

Airlift Productions New Orleans Logo Re-boot 2012 by Ethan Anderson
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

Taylor Swift “Shakes Off” Airlift Productions

Taylor Swift, tagged to headline Jefferson Parish's Family Gras 2008
Taylor Swift, tagged to headline Jefferson Parish’s Family Gras 2008

** With Mardi Gras 2017 excitement in the air – along with Jefferson Parish’s Family Gras happening this weekend – I’m re-posting this blog, originally published in June of 2015 **

Long before her recent shaking-up of the “Apple Cart’s” new music streaming service this past week, Country/Pop-Tart Taylor Swift was headed to play New Orleans – and yours truly, Airlift Mike, was tagged to help promote and give voice to the show.

Little did any of us realize when then-19 year old Taylor was selected to appear at Family Gras 2008 – just down Veterans Boulevard from the Airlift Productions Studios – that she was destined  to explode and become one of the world’s hottest selling musical artists!

Family Gras was brand new – and so was Taylor Swift’s career.

Contracted by NOLA public relations ace Greg Buisson and the Jefferson Parish Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, I was tasked with voicing and producing the :60 audio track (video edited by Jay Schneider) which was then to play all over New Orleans television to promote the affair.

** An uncharacteristically UP-Tempo Micheal Ziants, generating excitement for Taylor Swift’s Family Gras 2008 Appearance **

2008FamilyGrasLineupSo, with but one big hit in her hip pocket (“Our Song”), Taylor got in the bus with mom & dad, Andrea & Scott, and drove down to NOLA from Nashville for the show on that ill-fated late January.

She was slated to appear along with Blake Shelton, Kansas, Billy Ray Cyrus, The Bangles and a host of class N’awlins acts  – all in between Mardi Gras parades on the neutral ground of Veterans Boulevard here in Metairie for Family Gras 2008.

But Mother Nature had other ideas.

As Fate and the rain gods would have it, the skies over NOLA opened up that fate-filled Friday afternoon and it rained.  And it rained.  And it rained!

Poor Taylor’s only appearance that afternoon was on the 6:00 News/Blues.  Under an umbrella.  In a pouring rainstorm.  As she tendered her regrets to a dismayed New Orleans crowd about her canceled show.

swift14f-1-webReally.  Ask her about this one sometime, should you get a chance.

And little did any of us realize that day that this little PA native, Nashville transplant, Taylor Alison Swift’s career was about to explode – into the stratosphere!

Oh wait, of course. Her mama did.

 

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from New Orleans since 1984

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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

“Great recording studios share something in common with great concert venues. They both have a…what is it? An aura, a vibe, a karma, an ambiance? Whatever you call it, it’s as real as any speaker on the wall or slider on a console. You can’t see it, but, you can absolutely FEEL it. 

Airlift Productions has IT – thanks to the man behind the board (and in your ear). Micheal Ziants has a knack for gently pulling your best work out of you – and then improving upon it in the final mix. The finished product always leaves you thrilled, satisfied and amazed that you really had it in you! The best part- he gives you all the credit and you only realize later what great hands your material was in. 

Do yourself a favor- give Airlift a try. You’ll love the results and every moment you spent producing them.”

~ RICH LENZ , former WDSU-TV Sports Director/Anchor, currently the KING of daytime TV at KOTV, Tulsa 

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“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

Bandits, Robin Hood & Kismet In Old New Orleans

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Airlift Mike & The Shadow at Airlift Productions, where Every day is ‘Take your Doggie to Work’ Day

I first met Jake Landry, innocently enough, while walking my faithful four-footed friend The Shadow through the Old Bonnabel subdivision here just outside NOLA.

After our brief introduction, he told me he played guitar, sang and wrote music, while I told him that I owned and operated a recording studio.

Kismet.

A fave boyhood hero and model of mine was Robin Hood, who heroically stood up for the oppressed, rescued damsels in distress, and went about righting wrongs.

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Jake Landry Records at Airlift Productions NOLA

Jake told me his band was called The Right Lane Bandits and he wanted to make his mark, steal a few hearts, and change the world with his music.

Kismet.

For the record, ‘kismet’ is an old Arabic word that’s often used to describe something significant that was meant to be, that happens seemingly by chance, but is steered by fate or destiny. (Dude, that’s deep.)

For the record, yes, Jake and his band of Merry Men will together with yours truly, Airlift Mike (Robin Hood), make many!

Records, that is.

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Harp-man Paul Piazza mystifies and amazes with his masterful microphone maneuvers at Airlift Productions

Our first project together was a jingle for the Frere Jean Cajun Seasonings folks, but that session merely served as my introduction to Jake’s rather formidable talents and passion.

As producer & recording engineer, my suggestion to Jake was pretty simple: Original tunes are one thing, but we need to give Linda & Larry Listener, Karl & Karla K-Mart, Arnold & Alice Average (who’ve never heard your work before) a yardstick by which to measure your talents – a totally excellent cover song.

So, this past week, that’s exactly what we did at Airlift Productions… record the ultimate, classic cover song.

Written by musical Christian mystic troubadour Van Morrison and with lyrics like “We were born before the wind, Also younger than the sun” …. rockin’ your gypsy soul, Linda & Larry Listener,  here come the Right Lane Bandits —

** “Into the Mystic” ~ Right Lane Bandits at Airlift Productions **

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(L-R) Paul Piazza, Jake Landry, Zach Fellman, Brandon Bates entertaining the house at the House of Blues in NOLA’s French Quarter

 

Catch-up with The Right Lane Bandits when you can, around the House of Blues here in NOLA, or at a night club or wedding reception near you.

While you still can.

 

***Jake and his posse in Greenwich, CT this past month, entertaining the troops via You Tube ***

The ‘kismet’ moral to the whole story here?

Keep your faith in your boyhood heroes.

And walk your dog more often.

ports Director & Anchor … and current King of Daytime Television, ********************************************************************

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from NOLA since 1984NewOrleansskylineg studios share something in common with great concert venues.  They both have a… what is it?  An aura, a vibe, a karma, an

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

“Great recording studios share something in common with great concert venues. They both have a…what is it? An aura, a vibe, a karma, an ambiance? Whatever you call it, it’s as real as any speaker on the wall or slider on a console. You can’t see it, but, you can absolutely FEEL it. 

Airlift Productions has IT- thanks to the man behind the board ( and in your ear). Michael Ziants has a knack for gently pulling your best work out of you- and then improving upon it in the final mix. The finished product always leaves you thrilled, satisfied and amazed that you really had it in you! The best part- he gives you all the credit and you only realize later what great hands your material was in. 

Do yourself a favor- give Airlift a try. You’ll love the results and every moment you spent producing them.” 

— RICH LENZ, former WDSU-TV Sports Director and currently KING of Daytime Television at KOTV-Tulsa

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MLK Meets JFK Meets Abraham ~ AirLift Style

Abe-Martin-JohnVerily, all the highest aspirations of all mankind have always been towards PEACE. And Brotherhood.

And the dream that lay closest to the heart of the Nazarene was the manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven – not far-off in some dreamy otherworld but right here in the physical plane, in your neighborhood and mine, here on  planet Earth.

Martin knew that. Jack knew that. Abraham really knew that.

dr-martin-luther-king-jrSo, on MLK Day, 2016, let’s go there.

My Airlift Productions here in NOLA has always been about more than just ‘selling stuff’ or ‘telling stuff’; I’ve seen my mission for now over thirty years as serving as a catalyst for positive change.

Henceforth, today’s entry…

As we celebrate and commemorate the life of this visionary peacemaker, and the stock markets, banks & post offices close, I’m flashing back on this MLK Day to a very special ‘homework assignment’ from days gone by.

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Katy & Dad, Iberville Street, NOLA, 1992

My then-ten year old Katy was visiting dad for the Christmas holidays, and after the dinners, movies, and playtime, we went down into the Airlift Studios on Iberville to record.

Imagine, if you can, one of the most powerful speeches ever uttered on these American shores – The Gettysburg Address – dramatically interpreted by a ten year old!

Then, put these words wrapped around the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy, and support all this with the inspirational and soaring music of (just recently departed) James Horner from the “Glory” motion picture soundtrack.

Oh, my.

** “Is Anyone Home at the Gettysburg Address?” * Airlift, 1992 **

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Peace? Brotherhood?

What, to me, is so extremely saddening is that the success of this dream, the manifestation of true PEACE on earth, will never ever (as in ‘not ever’) be settled on a battlefield.

For the answers, as Dr. King, Jack, and Abraham all knew too well, lie between the reader of these very words left ear and right ear.

And the only true battlefield is the human heart.

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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

“For ten years now I have worked with Micheal Ziants and Airlift Productions recording songs for Children’s Hospital & the Children’s Miracle Network.  He’s unique and a constant… solid as the rock in rock ‘n roll.  Mike’s attention to detail is legendary, but his commitment to the kids and the challenges they face goes far beyond that.  He gets it.  Professionally, he’s as good as it gets.  Everyone SOUNDS better after a session with Mike.  And no matter what the audio project, you FEEL  better after a session with Airlift.  That’s ‘Z’ truth!”

— HEATH ALLEN, Long-time WDSU/NBC New Orleans News Reporter & veteran guitar picker

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984

“Anchors Away” – Airlift Mike Reflects On Decades of Recording Norman Robinson

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Norman Robinson sat in the Anchor chair at WDSU-TV, New Orleans for over twenty years … and still today records his euphonium and VoiceOvers at Airlift Productions.

I first met Norman Robinson in 1991 at the Airlift Productions studios on Iberville Street. He was fresh off the White House beat for the CBS Network  and was the newly ordained nightly news anchor at WDSU-TV here in New Orleans.

Along with John Lee, the founder of the I Can Learn educational programs, he showed up at the studios to record some promotional VoiceOver tracks to help attract some attention to this new and innovative method of teaching.

I was thinking about our first meeting and that first session together as Norman arrived at the Airlift studios this past Friday, February 6th, 2015 to record with me…  yet again.

Let’s see, so simple math would indicate that our relationship and friendship now spans nearly a quarter of a century!

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(L-R) Brian Landry, Norman Robinson, Rich Lenz & Airlift’s Micheal Ziants ~ in the Airlift Productions ‘Green Room’, along with a plaque commemorating four years of Children’s Miracle Network Telethon Theme Songs for our Children’s Hospital in New Orleans

In addition to his outstanding contributions every night for over two decades in the anchor chair at WDSU, Norman is quite the musician as well. While foreign to many, the euphonium (sort of a hybrid cross between a french horn and a tuba) is Norm’s instrument of choice.

He played it in the marine band while in the service, and still does today in various orchestras and ensembles around the Crescent City – and for the Children’s Hospital NOLA at Airlift Productions.

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Norman Robinson at the euphonium, along with Brian Landry, the “Soul Men”, laying-down tracks for the 2014 Telethon at Airlift Productions

But it’s more than his chops at the euphonium or at the anchor desk that make Norman so special. It’s his spirit! Charm. Charisma. Magnetism. Gravitas. Norman didn’t just sit in the anchor chair. He inhabited it. He owned it.

In a day and time where even NBC Network News & Brian Williams’ authority and credibility have now come into question, the city of New Orleans always had its fingers on the pulse of what was going on … and believed in and trusted Norman Robinson.

It was that trust, that gravitas, that authoritative weight that brought Norman back into the Airlift Productions Studios this past week to record VoiceOver for a very special project.  Just give a listen to a taste of what went down Friday here ….

*** Norman Robinson at the Airlift Productions microphones Friday, February 6th, 2015, talking unabashedly of the city he loves ***

If all Norman did was string words together in that marvelous booming baritone, to many, that would be more than enough, but it doesn’t stop there. His nightly news laughter and asides, and his boundless humanity and love of life on the yearly Children’s Telethons is what endeared him to so many.

Witness  this clip provided by his successor Scott Walker, from a cell phone video at our last telethon in June of 2014, as Norman invokes the spirit of James Brown ….

*** Norman performs to make the telephones ring and the pledges come in at the 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Telethon ***

As Norman and I wrapped-up our session this past week, we reflected on our many years working together. And I guess the most interesting part of our conversation was about what lies ahead for us … because we’re just getting warmed-up.

Because, you see, on that great Highway of Life, the most fascinating years, the really interesting ones …  are through the windshield – not the rear view mirror! 

For more, as they used to say in the ad world, “Watch this Space”.

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

Airlift Productions Recording Studio ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA