Showing posts with label studio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label studio. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

My day in almost-dead formats

It's been this kind of day at the studio here in Omaha, by God, Nebraska.
The anachronism is great in this one. May the anachronism be with you.
While I'm eyeball deep in this kind of thing, maybe you can be listening to the
3 Chords & the Truth sort of thing. Just a suggestion.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Plunging into the ruined, moldy heart of a metaphor

Vintage FCC 'history card' for WJAR radio

Last month, an urban explorer trekked into the wilds of East Providence, R.I., in search of adventure and long-abandoned places.

Wielding nothing but a video camera and a respirator, "RnK All Day" brought his YouTube viewers along as he pored through the ruins of radio stations WHJJ, WHJY (94 HJY) and WSNE that once broadcast from the crumbling building at 115 Eastern Ave. He got more than he bargained for -- as did we.

What the intrepid archaeologist of urban abandonment found was a moldering, unsealed time capsule of mid-market AM and FM radio, circa 2002. It almost seemed as if, going on a couple of decades ago, the DJ on 94 HJY was playing Lenny Kravitz's latest CD while the talk guy on WHJJ argued with a caller about George W. Bush . . . and then the apocalypse.

The lights blinked. The phone went dead. A blinding flash. Someone spied a mushroom cloud in the distance.

Then everyone ran from the building, in a panic and in search of a fallout shelter. No one ever came back.

Yes, scavengers would go through the place from time to time. But they were looking for canned goods, cash and booze. Maybe some forgotten weed from the HJY wing. Broadcast electronics held no attraction for nuclear survivors worried more by the threat of irradiated zombies.

Fate had left these postmodern ruins amazingly intact, save for the smashed windows, some trashed rooms . . . and the mold that was everywhere.

THIS WAS the result of no nuclear detonation and the sudden collapse of civilization, though. This was another kind of apocalypse -- a corporate apocalypse.

There were no glowing zombies staggering through deserted streets searching in vain for human brains. The survivors of this apocalypse were the ones who brought it about -- the business-attired men and women walking crisply through cubicled offices in search of shareholder value.

Sometimes, they spat out glib clichés about "thinking outside the box" and "It is what it is." Other times, they merely moaned "EBITA! EBITA!"

A few years ago, one of this country's tens of thousands of "downsized" (or "right-sized" . . . or "redundant" . . . or "laid off" . . . or whatever) radio professionals -- I was told it was a disc jockey fired about 2003 -- cornered a regional program director outside the offices of a "station cluster." He just wanted answers to a few questions.

Would he ever feel useful again?

Was his training -- were his talents --  now useless?

The man in business casual was silent.

"Will I ever fucking work in my profession again!?"

Quoth the Craven "Nevermore."

Yet the suits could move three stations out of one building into another building with new equipment . . . and just abandon all the old. Utterly. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, at the time, of "utterly."

That waste represents "shareholder value," no doubt. Efficiency and belt-tightening, don't you know?

OK, I LIED about the tale of the questioning DJ. I don't know that it happened. I'll bet it probably did somewhere, however. I didn't lie about the apocalypse part. What's befallen radio -- and to a lesser extent, TV -- since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ushered in the Lord of the Flies is an apocalypse. In ancient Greek, "apocalypse" meant "an unveiling." In modern English, it can mean a prophetic revelation . . . or an inferno . . . or a great disaster.

The tens upon tens of thousands of cashiered broadcasters say, "Take your pick, man. Hard to go wrong." And millions of listeners across the land might agree.

Once, WHJJ was a big deal in Providence. Before 1980, the call letters were WJAR, and for much of its history, it was a pretty big deal in the Northeast. After first taking the air in 1922, WJAR became a charter affiliate of the National Broadcasting Co., in November 1926.

And legendary NBC announcer Don Pardo (of Saturday Night Live and every-damn-thing-else fame) got his start at WJAR in 1938.

SO LOOK at the mysteriously, confoundingly abandoned studios, once the pre-ruinous home to the jewels of the Franks Broadcasting Co., Inc., beginning in 1980. Before Franks Broadcasting, the old WJAR was the pride of The Outlet Company.

Outlet owned WJAR for six decades. Franks owned it for a few years. Then it gets consolidatingly confusing until you end up at iHeartMedia, a crapload of assumed debt and -- how do they put it? Ah . . . yes. Efficiencies, economies of scale, elimination of redundancies and . . . "right-sizing." 

It sounds so much better than "You're fired." But it still means "apocalypse." And the abandoned, fully equipped ruins in East Providence still make for a hell of a metaphor for an entire ruined industry and an entire unraveling country.

What you hear wafting across the ether today is substantively denuded. The happy-clappy corporate speak of besuited Visigoths is risible -- especially if you jack up your eyelids with toothpicks, turn your radio on and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to the stupid in the air.

. . . and listen to th. . . .

SORRY. The program server had a bit of a meltdown, nobody's in the building after 5, and I had to drive in from home to reboot it.

Next time that happens, just go online and call up the iHeart station in (fill in the blank). It's playing the same damn thing -- probably at the same damn time. How're you liking those "economies of scale"?

The legions of former radio people -- the first casualties in the apocalypse, the ghosts inhabiting our East Providence metaphor in ruins, the men and women who have radio in their blood and nowhere to show it, the ones who talk incessantly about the old days on Facebook because there are no more new days -- they're not liking those "economies of scale" at all.

And they don't much care for your station, or for bombed-out radio studios full of perfectly good equipment being perfectly ruined.

Neither, I suspect, do they care for metaphors. Unfortunately, it seems as if metaphors are the only damned thing we have left in this sad, sad land.

Don't forget to call in your request to the studio line. No one will answer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Que sera, sera

You never know what's going to end up on the ol' phonograph in the 3 Chords & the Truth studio.

Last night, it was this 1955 LP by Doris Day. Tomorrow night, it could be Waylon Jennings. Who knows? Certainly not yours truly.

What I do know is that, sooner or later, it'll all end up on the Big Show. Keeps life -- and listening -- interesting, it does.

You'd be shocked, shocked to learn how much of the music on the program comes from where I find a lot of the good stuff. That would be estate sales and Goodwill, where lots of albums and singles that never found their way to CDs or downloads sit waiting to be rediscovered and loved anew.

AND WHILE I enjoy these vintage sounds in the comfort of the studio, I find I'm also getting a lesson in how tempus keeps fugiting at an alarming rate. For example, Miss Day's Day Dreams album came out in 1955, a mere six years before I came on the scene.

As an ambivalent member of the Baby Boom generation, that doesn't seem much like ancient history. But then I do the math and see that 1955 was 59 years ago. In my mind, 1955 is the day before yesterday, even though I wasn't born yet.

But in 1955, Doris Day was 31 years young. Now she's 90.

So listen up, kiddies, and listen good. It could happen to you -- and it probably will. I know, year by year, it's happening to me.


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Analog in a digital world

Rockin' it really old school in the Revolution 21-slash-3 Chords & the Truth studio tonight. Jazz in the night from a 1960 Voice of Music tuner hooked up to a 1962 Pioneer stereo multiplex converter, and it's all being recorded by a TEAC reel-to-reel deck, circa 1969.

The Crown monitor amp is new, but what you gonna do? They're damn fine amplifiers.

For what it's worth, I shot the video with a Microsoft Surface tablet, which has decent-sounding microphones that also are prone to being overdriven. Sorry about that.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's always 1965 somewhere

Yesterday or today?
Old snapshots or brand-new pictures?
1965 or 2013?
Is it live, or  is it Memorex?
Am I stuck in the past, or is this early onset "second childhood"?
Are the two one and the same?
Or could it just be some old stuff sitting around the production studio as "decor"?
Maybe this is a multiple-choice exam. I report; you decide.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Because I'm a geek . . .

. . . I get all excited about procuring a 1962 Pioneer FM multiplex stereo adapter to go along with my monophonic 1960 Voice of Music tuner.

I did have a pretty basic V-M multiplexer hooked up to it, but the Pioneer is sooooo much nicer. And better. And you can adjust the stereo separation -- cool!

I just lost you, didn't I? My wife's eyes glaze over at "FM stereo multiplexer."

But she did perk up  at ". . . and I got in on ebay for about $150 less than these things usually sell for."

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Soul, crackle and pop

Posting, obviously, has been light here as I break in the new studio and prepare for the big relaunch of 3 Chords & the Truth . . . coming to your computer, tablet, smart phone or MP3 player soon.

Really soon.

So here's the JPEG version of a little sweet soul music in the night.

Be there. Aloha.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It is finished . . . enough

After a couple of months of work, worry, planning, painting and stringing lots and lots of audio cable, here it is.

Welcome to the newly remodeled and reimagined 3 Chords & the Truth studio. It's all done, right down to a new office chair. Comfy, it is.

The only thing left to do -- apart from catching up with a decade's worth of advancements and changes to the audio-editing program I use (changing from Windows to Mac meant getting the new OS X version of Adobe Audition) -- is getting the old reel-to-reel deck fixed up right and returned to the studio. Other than that . . . we're back in bidness. The Big Show will resume presently.

Pretty spiffy, isn't it?

WHILE Y'ALL are looking at the pictures of your Mighty Favog's remodeling handiwork . . .

. . . your Mighty Favog is going to go take a nap.

Or something.

FINALLY, here's another look at what used to be but is no more, thanks be to God.

And Lowe's.

And several electronics and computer vendors. Nighty night.

Friday, March 01, 2013

This is not the end.

But I can see being done from here, despite losing most of a week to a nasty, nasty winter cold. (I don't think I've ever had a "slight cold" in my life; I get Almost the Flu or nothing at all.)

Anyway, most of the furniture refurbishing and "repurposing" is done. I'm painting the last piece that needs painting now.

Don't ask about getting it out of where it was and getting it to where it is.

After the furniture phase is done comes the wiring of the studio equipment phase. No, bringing you 3 Chords & the Truth is no job for wimps . . . or the technically challenged.

Hang on a sec -- one of my favorite songs is playing on WSM right now. "Aimee" by Pure Prairie League. Yay.

OK, I'm back. And that's about it for now concerning the Great Remodeling.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting for the paint to dry

That's pretty much it, the headline on this post.

I'm sitting here in the big blue chair, drinking Community coffee, listing to BBC Radio 2 on the Internets . . . and writing this on the Surface as I wait for the paint to dry on the former dining room table that's being repurposed for the remodeled 3 Chords & the Truth studio. 

The pictures tell the story. We're getting there.

I rather like the studio curtains, don't you?

Monday, February 18, 2013

I. Hate. Painting.

But, in the ongoing remodel of the 3 Chords & the Truth/Revolution 21 production studio, the painting is done. Alas.

Eventually, these 60-something-year-old wood windows will be replaced; they're fairly well shot. Still, they got a coat of paint -- it may help hold them together for a while longer, who knows?

THE IMPORTANT thing here is that, throughout the whole process, the Wi-Fi never went out. That took a little doing, it did, keeping the Internet plugged in. Yay, me!

DID I mention that I hate painting?

Of course, I'm now moving on to painting the parts of the studio furniture, old and new, that need painting or repainting. One piece that's already fallen under the brush, however, has gotten the coveted Mrs. Favog Seal of Approval.

So, there's that, at least.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Good Lord

Yes, I'm still here. No, I haven't quit the blogging thing or the 3 Chords & the Truth thing.

It's just that this studio-remodeling thing has taken on, to use an overused term, "a life of its own." This, actually, is kind of an understatement.

Please help.

For one thing, the amount of sheer stuff  I had accumulated in there over the years. Scores of old reel-to-reel tapes, for example -- many of them historical treasures from the 1940s and '50s. Man, did I underestimate the process of cleaning it out.

THAT, I don't dare pitch into the trash. Webcor "Electronic Memory" Recording Tape, you are safe . . . as are the 50-something-year old wonders hidden in your ferrite coating.

Anyway, the room now is empty. The walls have been washed and spackled. So has the ceiling.

And the dirty old drapes are gone. And the floor has been rejuvenated. And the light fixture has been replaced. Much cursing was done in the process.

Fortunately, electrocution was avoided.

MEANTIME, the new iMac waits in its carton. As do all other manner of gadgetry.

The old production PC sits, unhooked, on a cabinet in the middle of the dining room. I write this on my Microsoft Surface tablet.

Now comes the painting. Stay tuned, folks. We're getting there.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Going . . . going . . . going. . . .

This is the studio where 3 Chords & the Truth is recorded. Or, was the studio as of last week.

Here's the same studio a day ago as the deconstruction and remodeling proceeded . . . deliberately. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Honestly, the crap I've had to take apart. The cables I've had to clean and neatly bundle. 

The books and knickknacks I've had to box up and store. The stuff I've had to knock apart and move out.

The vacuuming! Oy!

Which leads us to today. It's getting there -- or not there, as the case may be.

Deliberately, alas.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You've gotta have a plan

Before I tear the 3 Chords & the Truth studio the heck up, I thought it might be a good idea to decide what it was supposed to look like when I put it back together.

Voila! A plan.

And it only took a week of looking at office furniture, considering building my own office furniture, looking at more office furniture and drawing up one previous floor plan that was mulled over and found to be wanting. This one, though, I think is a winner.

Everything is to scale, everything has been measured and measured again, and I found a way to repurpose much of what I already had. Best of all, I think we'll be saying goodbye to clutter and being cramped.

OK, I can tear everything the heck up now.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

And that's the way it is. . . .

This is how the studios look here in Omaha (by God!) Nebraska.

OK, it's "studio" -- singular. "Studios" just sounds better.
Anyway . . . this soon will be how the home of 3 Chords & the Truth was. Past tense.

The place is kind of dingy and way cramped, not to mention a little messy. Sounds like time for a remodel to me.

IT'S BEEN needed for a while, but my official excuse is the new, screamingly fast 27-inch iMac that's soon to replace the ancient Dell that's in here now. Trust me, a 2005 vintage is ancient in PC terms, and I was penny wise and pound foolish when I made that purchase almost eight years ago. The new and extremely tricked out iMac is sorely needed, particularly for audio production.
Soooo . . . while I remodel the studio into something more worthy of a fine Apple product, blogging will be sporadic, and we may miss a new episode of the Big Show or two. I'm hoping the disruption will be more than worth it -- both for me and for you.
Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just to be perfectly clear . . .

I am still a geek.

In this view from the Revolution 21/3 Chords & the Truth studios as we get ready for the 200th episode of the Big Show, the CDs are Karrin Allyson and John Coltrane, the mixer is a Soundcraft Spirit ES stereo model, the microphone preamps run on vacuum tubes and the background on the computer desktop is from a 1944 ad for KOIL radio in Omaha.

Yep, geek.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Music in the night

The Voice of Music, circa 1960.

When in doubt, replace the weak 12AX7 tube in the add-on multiplex adapter, which is much less painful of a procedure than Saturday night's project -- changing all the dial lamps in a 35-year-old Marantz receiver. The music in stereo is a little sweeter now, just as the old Marantz shines like new for the first time in years.

This geek minute has been brought to you by black wingtips and white athletic socks. Additional funding for this program has been provided by pocket protectors . . . pocket protectors, because pens leak.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The grandeur of fantastic flying books

A funny thing happened on television Sunday night. There were these couple of "swamp rats" from Louisiana on the high-def screen . . . and nobody was yelling "Choot 'em!"

They were dressed in tuxedos, not overalls.

No boats or guns were involved.

Books were.

And so was an Academy Award -- the swamp rats won one for one of the most endearing animated shorts you will ever watch, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. It is a treasure. And even a Louisiana native like me has to admit that "treasure" and "Shreveport" are not terms that often fraternize.

That just changed, thanks to director and writer William Joyce, co-director Brandon Oldenburg and their Shreveport studio, in business less than two years.
As Joyce and Oldenburg, the film's directors, walked the red carpet and mingled with stars in Hollywood, Moonbot employees held their own Oscar watch party, red carpet included, at Marilynn's Place in Shreveport. Emotions were high at the restaurant where around 70 people anxiously watched and waited for the envelope to be opened. A loud thunder of cheers and shrill screams followed the announcement.

"Look, we're just these two swamp rats from Louisiana," Joyce said in his acceptance speech. " We love the movies more than anything. It's been a part of our lives since we were both kids."

"It's been a part of our DNA since we were children, and it's made us storytellers," Oldenburg added.

Lead animator Jamil Lahham was in disbelief after Moonbot's victory. He said the Oscar win is just the beginning for Louisiana's film industry.

"These guys in the city and government started something and I think now it's paying off," Lahham said.

"Mr. Morris Lessmore" is Moonbot's first released animation project. Founded in 2010, the studios has also developed and produced the iPad application, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore."

The 14-minute long film follows Mr. Morris Lessmore during the aftermath of a storm in New Orleans. Through the power of stories and books, he finds happiness. It beat four other short films in the category including Pixar's "La Luna."
IN OTHER WORDS, what the story is really about is the power of beauty . . . and of love. Isn't that what all the best stories are about?

To tell you the God's honest truth, I meant to write this post hours and hours ago. I would have, too, had I been able to figure out why watching this little gem of a film left me with tears streaming down my face.
Every time.

The best I can come up with is that it's . . . the power of beauty.
And love.

It's similar to how you might get choked up and teary eyed upon witnessing an act of extraordinary kindness or sacrificial love. It's akin to how you might be wholly undone by becoming the recipient of extraordinary -- and unmerited -- grace.

We live as a defeated people, though willfully unaware of that tragedy, amid the ruins of a devastated culture. I think the way you recognize a devastated culture and a defeated people is by how cynical and ugly it --
they -- have become. Switch on the flat screen and the cable box and tell me what you see.

Turn on the radio and tell me what you hear.

That's all right. I don't notice the ugliness that much anymore, either. It helps that I try not to watch that much television, but even so, you get inured to it or you slowly go mad. This leads to the obvious question of whether madness by today's standards oftentimes would be considered sanity by some more objective gauge, but that's the subject of another post entirely.

Still, when you live in the sewer, you get to where you don't notice the sewage anymore. Or the smell.

When you live in a cynical, debased and dying culture, you don't notice the necrosis. Death and decay is the new normal.

WHAT YOU do notice amid death is life. What you do see amid the darkness is the light. What leaves you gobsmacked amid ugly is beauty. What undoes you amid the indifference of cynicism is the appearance of love.

About a century and a half ago, an English poet (and Catholic priest) had something to say about this:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
THIS POEM, God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins, found its way into books -- books that fed countless souls, words of man destined to become yet another manifestation of the power and the glory of what the Almighty hath wrought.

As random kindness or unexpected grace have the power to undo us in the face of our casual cruelty, so does any light amid this present darkness -- or any beauty arising to rebuke the grotesque we take for granted.

That's why I think
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore hit me the way it did. Like the prophets of old, one cannot stand in the presence of God and not be shattered -- especially when caught so unawares -- and that presence illuminates the intersection of truth, beauty and love.

As far as I'm concerned, and by that standard, every frame of Morris Lessmore is charged with the grandeur of God.

Better yet, the grandeur of God is a bargain. In a country where we spend thousands a year for the privilege of being slimed, this little bit of "the Holy Ghost over the bent world" costs but $1.99 on iTunes.

And just $2.99 for HD.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's not rocket science

More cowbell, dammit!

Uhhhhhhh . . . don't I gots me some Mountain somewhere on the iTunes?

Burrrrrrrp. (thud)