It has been said that the best VoiceOverTalents come from the STAGE not the RADIO because the theater and acting is at the heart of the craft – not broadcasting.
But what if a talent could combine both?
Yes, this blog could perhaps be seen as self-serving, tooting one’s own horn and sort of like ‘breaking the 4th wall’ in a Woody Allen movie where he addresses the camera directly, but here goes:
While I began my broadcasting career in the 1970s and worked on-air in some of America’s greatest cities as well as for some of the USA’s hallmark companies – The Pulitzers in St. Louis & Billboard Magazine in Nashville – for me it all began on the stage!
The acting bug bit me early and hard! In the 1960s it was the Civic Children’s Theater in Youngstown, Ohio that was my launch pad. Saturdays could find me onstage re-creating the stories of Peter Pan, Tom Edison or Robin Hood for hundreds of school age kids at a time.
I then went on through high school to become the President of the Thespian Club and had the leads in the Junior and Senior Class plays as well.
Using the human voice to arrest someone’s attention, intrigue them, and then motivate them to relate to a cause or sympathize with an issue seemed damned near magical. I was hooked.
Later on, as a broadcaster and then as a voice over talent, I learned to call on these same skills, intuitive yet honed on a stage, and bring them all to the microphone!
Shocking, Raw, Visceral – Adults Only ** Micheal reads from Pelican Publishing’s True Crime Drama “Murder in Coweta County”
So, again, what if the voice over artist – the person delivering the message at the microphone – could combine innate, yet trained, acting chops plus vast commercial broadcast experience plus decades of technical, hands-on production experience?
OK, here comes the horn tooting part: that would be – ME!
Do you want to book a voice talent with experience? With theater in his blood? With years of broadcasting & audio production thrown in ala carte?
“I listened to a lot of voices to represent Detective Lt. Robert (Robbo) Davidson for our audiobook version of “The Evil I Have Seen” and none quite fit. At last, I did a search for a commanding, seasoned, slightly Southern voice — and pulled up Airlift Productions of NOLA. I clicked on Micheal’s sample narrations of “Murder in Coweta County” then James Patterson’s “The Chef,” and I was hooked. No one else would do.
I was surprisingly delighted after speaking with Micheal to learn, he would not agree to narrate and produce the audiobook until he read it. He wasn’t in it just for money — he would only partner on material he believed to be worthwhile. It has been a delightful, rewarding experience and Robbo and I could not be more proud of the way he brought this book to life.” — Author PJ Jones
When clients first visit my Airlift Productions Studios here in New Orleans one of their first questions is regarding my motivation for building such an awesome recording space & studio complex in the first place.
My response? “Well, quite frankly, I have an entrepreneurial drive that was born and forged in the fires of unemployment!”
I just grew tired and weary of the corporate radio mentality that treated warm, talented and caring humans – with families to look after – as simple commodities!
While much of America today it seems is constantly being outsourced, marginalized, downsized and capsized, even back in the ’80s, I wanted to forge, hand-craft, and create my own future.
Enter the Airlift dream.
Pause to consider, I would never have been at Q-93 Radio (WQUE-FM) in 1983 had WIFI-FM in Philadelphia not terminated my position. A format change to “Rock of the ’80s” – Psychedelic Furs, Oingo-Bongo, Roxy Music, X, Berlin all the time – in early ’83 led to my dismissal.
Imagine taking this excuse to the PA unemployment line bean-counters, “Well, the consultants considered my on-air approach & style too adult sounding and too mature for the new format!” Really.
I would never have been at WIFI in Philadelphia had management not fired the entire air staff at WLAC in Nashville. This legendary 50,000 watt radio station sat on Music Row in Nashville, was owned by Billboard Magazine at the time, and reached Canada and Cuba from the mid-south with it’s remarkable signal.
But it all didn’t matter when Billboard sold the station to new owners – who then changed the format to All-Talk/News and fired/terminated its entire air staff, including yours truly.
I would never have been on-air at WLAC had the Pulitzer family in St. Louis at 55-KSD not made a similar move. The radio station was sold to new owners who then changed the format to All-Talk/News and fired it’s entire on-air personality music air staff.
Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Enter the Airlift dream.
I left Harrisburg on my own terms to pursue my first major market air shift in St. Louis. And I indeed exited Q-93 (as afternoon DJ/Air personality) in 1985 to build my own dream, to fulfill my destiny… to create Airlift Productions.
Airlift Productions was my way of taking all the skills that I’d learned working for “the man” and putting them to work for myself! I simply parlayed the many skills hard-earned and fine-tuned through all those radio years into self-employment as a VoiceOver talent and recording studio owner.
The final chapter? Well, it has yet to be written. As the old advertising adage goes… “watch this space…”
My dear colleague, it was a true delight to visit and work with you in yourdigital 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.
With all the equipment in the Airlift Productions studios – bouncing meters, glowing lights, ‘bells & whistles’ – the one thing visitors and clients seem to remark the most about is, strangely enough, the Window!
Its custom-cut, stained glass beauty captures every New Orleans sunset from it’s setting in the western wall of the studio, and gives constant feedback on current sky conditions as it reflects the tempo of each and every recording day.
Inspired by ancient Mayan illustrations and pyramid hieroglyphics, it was custom-designed to carry the colors of the Airlift Studios into its intricate artwork – from the passionate purple of the walls to the midnight blue carpet & charcoal grey acoustic foamed walls.
“The Gift of Life”, as it is called, symbolizes the spiritual journey of man.
At the center is the flame-like symbol of God who is Light & Life, the Creator of All.
The Triangle – symbolizing Mind, Spirit & Soul enlightened by God in its midst – is within the circle that signifies God is All in All, without beginning or end.
Surrounding the circle are the glyph signs for sky, earth’s abundance, and precious water.
And this magnificent artwork accomplishes all this spiritually without being overtly religious, to say nothing of ‘choosing up sides’ – favoring one religion, faith, or approach over another.
“The Gift of Life” also serves as the perfect backdrop and vibe for all the intensely creative audio projects & work being recorded and captured at the Airlift Productions Studios.
In my now nearly 40 years of recording voice overs, radio/TV, AudioBooks & musicians at Airlift Productions in America’s most fascinating and interesting city, you could say that I’ve encountered quite a few characters.
Doctor John (aka Mac Rebennack) has spent hours with me, recording voice-over tracks for awards shows, and even cartoon voice tracks for Quincy Jones’ Take it Back Foundation.
I still can’t get over that, not even asking if he could smoke, at the Airlift Productions Iberville location, he pulled out a cheroot at the mic and lit it up! (We rushed an ash tray in to his rescue.)
For several years in the 90s, Peyton & Eli’s dad Archie Manning had the Gold’s Gym franchise here just outside NOLA in Metairie, and I served as a one-man ad agency, writing, voicing & producing all the radio ads for the gym, which brought Archie & his partners regularly into the Airlift Productions Studios.
** Archie Manning’s Golds Gym Christmas Radio :60 Classic – with Airlift Mike as Santa, along with Archie, at the Airlift mics **
The cast of characters – from the mayors (both Morial & Landrieu), to all the city council members, Morgus the Magnificent, stand-up/fall-down comics, radio rebels, misfits, in-laws and outlaws has become the stuff of legend.
But I would have to say the most memorable and colorful of them all is none other than James Carville!
We’ve spent dozens of hours together one-on-one – with only a producer, long distance on a phone-patch Skype connection – recording two separate audio books, ‘It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!’ and, along with wife Mary, ‘Love & War’.
Now, by his own admission, James has untreated ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). He’s tried the drugs but didn’t like how they made him feel, so he and Mary just ‘deal with it’. Add (ADHD) me to the list.
Imagine working through hour-after-hour with someone in this situation and condition. Add to that, someone very highly opinionated (ya think?), outspoken, given to tantrums … and ‘caged’ for an extended length of time! Yowza & Yikes!
“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 quite frankly, the comfort, make it the only place I want to record now or in the future” ~ James Carville
And, needless to say, but I will anyway, the out-takes are simply priceless! Perhaps a tale for a blog for yet another day.
A candid shot – through the studio door into the Airlift ‘green room’ – of Carville on the cell, taking a needed break, talking to George Stephanopolous in DC, with his feet ON my ping-pong table! Really, James?
True, but hard to believe, this summer marks eight years (8-29-2015) since Dr. Wayne Dyerdrew his last breath and proceeded to drop his body an ocean away in Hawaii.
I first met Wayne through a series of audio cassettes I’d ordered from Nightingale-Conant in Chicago. The series was called “The Awakened Life”. The year was 1987. And my life was never the same.
Wayne introduced me to eastern, metaphysical, transcendent thought, he opened my eyes – and spirit – as he challenged me to take chances with my life that I would have never dared in the past. I learned to jump off cliffs … and build wings on the way down.
Emerson & Thoreau came alive for me, sacred scripture never rang so true, mystical sages of history spoke clearly in my ears, as night-after-night I listened to Wayne unraveling and demystifying thought concepts that for so long were so foreign to me.
Through what is now decades of his lectures, writings & teachings, he introduced me to Alan Watts, Deepak Chopra, Ram Dass, Carl Jung, and many others. Together, we’ve traveled the shores of Galilee with Jesus of Nazareth, meditated under the bodhi tree with the Buddha, and ridden camel-back with Muhammad across the sands of Mecca.
We first met personally in March of 1997 at a Life Expo here in New Orleans. I confessed to him that he had very directly inspired me to ‘roll the dice’ and move my Airlift Productionsbusiness from my closet to a bonafide store-front with shingle out front on Iberville Street back in ’89.
He laughed and would take no credit whatsoever, saying that he never wanted to be anyone’s ‘guru’. Further joking that if he ever took credit for anyone’s success that he’d also have to share the blame for their failures! 🙂
It was roughly a year later, while I was leading a production team working for a NYC-based ad agency recording radio commercials in Toronto, Canada that we met again.
This time the visit was much more personal.
Through our days-long, sleep-deprived job in Toronto, I had quoted Wayne’s most incredible body of work extensively to the team I’d traveled with to Canada. At the end of the convention, we then rushed off to the airport to catch our flight back to New Orleans.
Dog-tired, with my head down, waiting for our plane, a pair of sandaled feet walked past my field of vision. I looked up – and it was Wayne Dyer!
Together with his assistant Maya, he was en route from addressing a seminar in Amsterdam, headed back to his family in south Florida. As I shook my head in surprise and astonishment, he joked, “Well, Micheal, it would seem that you manifested ME!”
We proceeded to talk and laugh together for a half-hour!
And we talked about EVERYTHING: Life, loves, disappointments, divorce, enlightenment, authorship, radio, recording, music, the Book of Tao, the Gita, days of future passed … he even was very complimentary about my voice. Wow.
Then, called to our respective planes, we parted. I will always treasure this remarkable day, and my not-so-coincidental conversation and time spent with this most remarkable spirit.
Dr. Dyer, quite frankly, I am at a loss for words to describe the impact you’ve made on my life. And, through my life and my Airlift Productions – and the lessons you’ve taught me – the impact I have then made on countless hundreds of other lives.
It has been said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. From the bottom of my heart and the height of my spirit, brother Wayne, thanks for appearing in my life… and sharing your candle with me.
“The Airlift Productions Studio itself is a mirror of Micheal; warm and inviting. I immediately feel at home when I’m there…never rushed, always cordial (great coffee) and I feel like MY project is the most important thing on his mind…total focus. It’s rare to find this kind of personal service. I never have any doubt that whatever I’m working on at Airlift will come out sounding great…always! If you want professional results; use a professional…Micheal Ziants at Airlift Productions IS that professional.” — BO WALKER, Former Production Director at New Orleans’ iHeart Media Stations (and in 2023, a Utah-based recovering radio rebel.)
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, 32 years later, we’re still at it!
Our most recent project? Recording and compiling every electronic message for every streetcar and bus – even the ferries – in the cityof 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 **
Rich Lenznow calls Tulsa, OK & OETA home, a gone pecan from NOLA for well over ten years now (gee, Thanks, Katrina), but he served for 16 years as sports director/anchor atWDSU.
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 **
After meeting former 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.
** Rachel’s VO Demo, with her daughter’s cutesy intro **
The latest project? VoiceOver for “Glory Days”, an homage to the passions and victories of Newman High School’sfootball 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?
The Airlift Productions studio doors are always open to Heath Allen . A veteran reporter for decades at WDSU. Heath carved-out his reputation in the early days all over Baton Rouge TV, and is today enjoying a well-deserved retirement on the north shore with his Janet.
His compassionate, and knowledgeable in-the-field reporting was always incisive and spot-on. And he picks quite a guitar, at that. The magic Heath brought to our Children’s Hospital Telethon tunes is the stuff of legend.
2023 continues to see local NOLA news veteran Camille Whitworthdrop by from time to time for various VO commercial and industrial projects.
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 forclients in and around NOLA.
Dependable, personable, and experienced, Camille is always fun to have around the Airlift Studios.
Truth is, 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’.
“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
On day one of the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season, some personal reflection —The National Weather Service defines the “Eye” as the region of mostly calm weather at the center of strong tropical cyclones.
Metaphorically, then, while the ever-changing media & technology would be the tropical cyclones/hurricanes, Airlift Productions & I would be the ones whohave for nearly forty 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 change to Gannet/Tegna, and Entercom to Audacy – my oh 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, while at the same time, tacking into the winds of change.
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 collage 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, Deuce McAllister, Congressman Steve Scalise, Amy Landon, Dr. Morgus/Sid Noel, Rachel Wulff, Tim Weston, Jamie Neumann, Sean O’Shea, Sister Thecla, even studio mascot The Shadeaux, the studio’s stained glass window and game room!
From radio commercials, TV voice-overs, podcasts & audio books, to educational software, industrial training & safety videos, and 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.
What’s next? AI, VR, the Metaverse?
Well, whatever it is, you can rest assured that Airlift Productions and I will be there, sitting calmly determined & ever persistent – 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
The short answer? All three! The long answer? How much time do you have? Too many questions? Oops, another question…
To begin with, all sound travels in waves. That’s analog. As I speak, my voice travels from my larynx to your ear as a wave form. Now, in capturing said wave form in a recording device or computer for editing and storage, it is still considered and called a wave form, but then it’s digital. Science.
But making MAGIC with that wave form is quite another thing altogether. Art.
Now, creating an environment, a creative space, a ‘vibe’, a place to make that audio magic – that audio alchemy – possible is yet another story completely.
Pause to consider, the entire Airlift Productions air space is completely out-of-square with no parallel walls, and the studio ceiling rises from front to back.
Custom-designed, the entire room is built like the ancient Greeks imagined the amphitheater – sound waves naturally propagate from the near-field reference monitors in the front across the room to the back wall.
The Airlift Studios control room widens from 6 feet square at the front … to nearly 12 feet at the back. Dramatic, sure, but functional, as well. A critical listening space should never be constructed with parallel walls, ceiling & floor, as this creates standing waves, slap-back echoes and assorted audio headaches.
Room treatment, acoustic foam, carpeting on the walls, natural daylight filtered through stained glass, and dimmer-controlled mood lighting further enhance artist & engineer comfort & creativity through the entire recording process.
Yes, Art & Science get it on at Airlift Productions! To create MAGIC.
Purpose-designed for comfort, creativity & breath-taking sound, Airlift has delivered the goods since 1984 from New Orleans to the planet with style!
From big screen to small; basic TV/Film voice over tracks & intimate audio book sessions to fully-produced broadcast-quality podcasts, test-drive your first session today from wherever you are on the web at Airlift Productions.
“Weapons of Mass Production” ~ Airlift Productions, New Orleans
Airlift Mike, always as close as the mouse on your desktop or the cell in your pocket at #504.833.8450.
When quality counts ~ count on Airlift Productions. Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from New Orleans since 1984.
“Airlift Mike was a saint, and ridiculously patient and supportive (and helpful!!) for this audio book virgin. In another environment, without the support, and with pressureto perform “right”, I probably would have completely fallen apart. So the MVP for this getting done goes 100% to Mike and the chilled out environment he’s cultivated…personally and within his studio… A big heartfelt thanks to Mike and the years of expertise he brought to this project to ensure I sounded my very best. If you’re ever in Nola and need the best audio dude, and the best dude dude, holler at my man Mike withwww.airliftproductions.com”
—- Los Angeles & NOLA-based Dog Trainer SEAN O’SHEA
Ya know, when folks today ask me for my opinion on the concept of reincarnation, my response is, “Why not? I’ve already lived many different lifetimes within THIS one!” And then I begin. To. Tell. This. Story…
It’s long been said that the Devil dances in empty pockets. You’ll also hear that the Devil is in the details. And in the summer of 1979, as John Saint John, I was dancing a very detailed jig with the Pulitzer Family along the banks of the Mississippi in Saint Louis, Missouri.
This whole blog post was triggered by a rather innocent enough email to theAirlift Productions Studios from a Lance Hildebrand (traffic reporter/VO guy), looking for a studio to work from while visiting New Orleans. The subject line was “We’re both KSD Alums”. Really?
Hired by the Pulitzer Family in the summer of 1978, I’d packed up my entire life, hopes & dreams and moved over 800 miles from Harrisburg, PA to take on the afternoon drive shift at 55-KSD radio in St. Louis. Excitement was hardly the word!
That summer the Pulitzers held and owned pop/adult 55-KSD Radio, NBC-affiliate KSD Television, AND the property that first put them on the map – The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, the most widely read paper in town. Long before there was a radio or a television set, Joseph Pulitzer had made his name in print. The “Prize” was to come years later.
Little did I realize when I first took the job that this stunning combination of power, strength and reach would serve to ultimately lead to my untimely dismissal.
** KTVI-2/St. Louis Don Marsh Feature on John Saint John, 1979 **
Let’s face it, in 1979, before the birth of the internet, the web & a digitally-connected America – one company could, in effect, monopolize what people would read in their newspaper, listen to on their radio, and watch on their television! I mean, what else was there?
Apparently, by 1979, the FCC had come to the same conclusion.
The Ronald Reagan years of deregulation and consolidation were yet to come, and the Federal Communications Commission, the government’s watch dog, had been wagging its paw at the Pulitzer clan for quite some time. And the time had come.
Music DJs Ron Morgan, Ed Scarborough, and yours truly were all shown the door as Combined Communications out of San Diego purchased KSD Radio from the Pulitzers, changed the format to News/Talk and decided to duke it out with KMOX.
Ironically, my afternoon news dude, the amazingly & wickedly talented Bob Hamilton, was retained through the transition, and later went on to legendary status at longtime CBS kingpin KMOX. Let’s hear it for the on-air longevity of an outstanding newsman’s career.
Yes, despite my #1 ratings with women 25-49 in afternoon drive at 55-KSD – precisely what Lee Fowler, Ed Newsome and the Pulitzers had hired me to do – newly married and with a child on the way, along with the rest of the on-air music staff, I was summarily let go/fired in the late summer of 1979. A pawn in quite the elaborate and corporate chess game.
But as my pop used to say “Illegitimus non carborundum est” (Latin for ‘don’t let the bastard grind you down’). I picked myself up, dusted myself off … and headed to Nashville. But that’s the story for another blog another time.
Indeed, those late summer nights after Cardinals games, I dreamed of having quite the career in Saint Louis, maybe after radio parlaying my on-air work into writing for the Post-Dispatch one day, but that story was never to happen.
Dancing with the Devil? He’s in the details? You betcha’! And I guess I should have seen it coming. When radio got into bed with big business, you knew it wasn’t going to end pretty.
And when you get into bed with the Devil … you better be prepared to get it on.
“Working on the road can be a pain for voice artists – I was so glad to find Airlift studios on my travels, just outside NOLA CBD! What a beautiful, cozy, and quiet space to work in. Micheal was an absolute pleasure to work with, being 100% professional and 100% nice guy! If I’m ever in the Big Easy again, I’ll be sure to stop in and see Mike at Airlift Productions.” – TOBY RICKETTS, New Zealand-based, award-winning, world-class VoiceOver Artist
Verily, 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.
Abraham knew that. Jack knew that. Martin really knew that.
So, on MLK Day 2023 let’s go there.
My Airlift Productions here in NOLA has always been about more than just ‘selling stuff’ or ‘telling stuff’; my mission, for what is now nearly forty years, is one of 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.
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 the late, prolific James Horner from the “Glory” motion picture soundtrack.
** “Is Anyone Home at the Gettysburg Address?” * Airlift, 1992 **
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 Martin, Jack, and Abraham all knew too well, lie between the left ear and the right ear of the reader of these very words.
And the only true battlefield… is the human heart.
“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