Tag Archives: Avery C. Alexander

Christmas 2019 Reflections & What Most Don’t Get About Airlift Mike


With Christmastime in New Orleans, together with all its trappings and sentiment in everyone’s windows and 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 then simply allow the dollars and opportunities to fall in line. 


One illustrative case in point is this one I share with you here: In my now 35 years of owning and operating Airlift Productions here in New Orleans, I have NEVER commuted to work!


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.

Airlift Productions, New Orleans’ Foremost VO Recording Studio

I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have recorded and worked hours on end closely together with (deep breath) and in no particular order….

Archie Manning, Dr. John, Chef John Besh, Quvenzhane Wallis, Deuce McAllister,  Charles Guggenheim, Necar Zadegan, Mayor Marc Morial, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Stacy Head, Nathan J. Robinson, David Menasche, Carrie Nye, Bo Walker, Buddy Stall, John Lee, Luno Bordelon, Jerry Christopher, Steve Blaze, Ronnie Lamarque, Anders Osborne, Theresa Andersson, Rachel Wulff, Scott Walker,  Lee Zurik, Zak George, Congressman Steve Scalise, James Carville, Mary Matalin,  Alden Ehrenreich, Toby Kebbell, The Krewe of Nyx, John “Spud” McConnell, Morris Bart, P.H. Fred, Mike Weldon, Reverend Avery C. Alexander, Brad Edelman, Rich Lenz, Norman Robinson, Heath Allen, Anne Gisleson, Sean O’Shea, Lewis Johnson, Greg DiLeo, Nathan Ales, 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, stand-up comics & radio rebels.

Not up to speed on some of these folks? Let the Googling begin.

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

The Punchline? Through all New Orleans’ intense weather – storms, hurricanes, blisteringly brutal summers, icy winters – 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?

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

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 very same muse that first brought me to the party!

During this Christmastime 2019, my holiday hope and prayer is that you, the reader of these words, if you haven’t yet… one day… find … yours.

Merry Christmas & Feliz Navidad from way down yonder in New Orleans – and Airlift Mike. 


Rachel Wulff records her VoiceOver Demo at Airlift Productions NOLA

“Micheal Ziants is a great voice talent who is generous with his time and energy. I have worked in TV for years, but needed the guidance of a professional to create my radio reel and found it with Ziants. He made me feel comfortable in studio and encouraged creativity, coaching me to a reel I hope will bring many job opportunities. “ — RACHEL WULFF, Former WWL & WDSU-TV Anchor/Reporter

Rachel Wulff’s compelling VoiceOver Demo produced by Airlift Mike



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

Oscar Buzz At Airlift Productions – 20th Century Style

Academy Award Winning Documentary Film Maker Charles Guggenheim (1924-2002)  Making Tracks At Airlift Productions ~ on Iberville Street in ’93

Throw-back Thursday today throws the spotlight on Airlift Productions in the Fall of 1993 –  a most remarkable day, because when legends meet and connect, magic is created and sparks fly!

I mean, it’s one thing to meet powerful and important people, it’s another to get a quickie photo op with powerful and important people … and yet another thing altogether to spend an entire day with powerful and important people –  work with,  document and record the whole affair.

Academy Award Winning Documentary Film Maker Charles Guggenheim showed up at the Airlift studios that Fall morning in a rent-a-car from Baton Rouge.  After confessing he was a bit hungry, we took the elevator up into the commissary and I made him some toast – no butter, no jelly – just toast.  It’s what he asked for.

Not long after, Avery C. Alexander, along with his driver, arrived. Reverend Alexander is the closest thing New Orleans and Louisiana has ever seen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.  A longtime civil rights activist, ordained minister & LA state representative – ‘the Rev’s’ name is carved above the entrance to our N.O. Charity Hospital!

Avery Caesar Alexander (1910-1999) being restrained by the NOPD during a scuffle at the controversial Liberty Monument re-dedication ceremony in March of 1993

Charles Guggenheim had contracted Airlift Productions & me to record his 60-Minutes-Style interview with Avery Alexander for sound bites to be used in his latest documentary project ‘The Shadow of Hate’.  

Wow! Some of the things that were said that day ….

~ Avery Alexander talks of prejudice, mistreatment, abuse, lynchings & murder at the Airlift microphones ~

Amazingly, with the historic impact that Avery Alexander made here in Louisiana during his life & civil rights mission – there is no audio record of him anywhere on the internet through a google or bing search.

There is now.

~ Avery Alexander talks of David Duke, the KKK, anti-Catholic/Jew bias … and the ‘dignity of man’ ~

Charles and Avery went at it for nearly two hours.  Guggenheim had me adjust the microphone for only Reverend Alexander – while he paced and questioned him persistently … drawing-out intimate and personal reflections.  Some session, I’ll tell you that.

The program that contained the recordings made that day in the Fall of ’93 at the Airlift Studios on Iberville Street – Guggenheim’s ‘The Shadow of Hate’ – was nominated for the Academy Award in 1995 … and opened more than one or two eyes and ears.  Yours? 


Charles Guggenheim accepting the Academy Award for Documentary Film in 1994

In 2014, the beat goes on …

And even though both of these extremely fine gentlemen now belong to the ages, sad to say,  the problems they attempted to address and remedy that day are still very much with us.

From the locker rooms of the NFL to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri … and from the playgrounds of YourTown to the Main Street of AnyTown, USA.

But as the planet continues to grow smaller and smaller as each day goes by, perhaps ONE day we can all learn to live by the mantra – and it’s pretty simple, four words – ‘ONE Father, ALL Brothers’.

increasethepeace ~ Micheal Z

Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from New Orleans … since 1984