This morning after reviewing the new sign ups to AVRooster.net, I thought it would be helpful if I gave you a little of my history and background.
Once upon a time in a land far far away (or Illinois), my parents signed me up for Cub Scouts where, after lots of pack meetings, we attended the annual Blue & Gold dinner. I think I was like six or maybe seven years old at the time and remember eating more than my weight in garlic bread and fried chicken. At that dinner was an entertainer who played guitar and interacted with the audience. For some reason, I was picked to join him on stage where he gave me some claves, showed me how to hold and play them and then I accompanied him for a song or two. To say I was a music junkie from that day on would be an understatement. Shortly thereafter, my family was visiting an uncle who let me attempt to pay his ukulele. Again, I was bitten by the music bug. My parents quickly saw my interest (and listened to my nagging) and bought me a small student guitar and I started lessons at home from Mr. Fuller. He would arrive once a week, wearing his jacket and tie while toting his guitar. This guy was a true music teacher. He thought me how to read music and to understand and appreciate the theory behind what we were trying to accomplish with my lessons. He showed me how to change my guitar strings and how to care and respect the guitar that I deeply loved.
As time rolled on, I often put the guitar aside and focused my desire to learn the Saxophone, Drums & Percussion, Brass instruments, Piano and more. I was truly a music junkie. Also during these early years, I, like many other kids, was fascinated with how things worked. I would beg my mother to let me try and fix the broken vacuum cleaner or can opener, which I did. One day, without asking, I decided to tear apart our prized Magnavox hi-fi in order to make it better because I thought it sounded “fuzzy”. I was right! It did have a blown speaker. Unfortunately for that old Magnavox, I bastardized it into many other useful things a 10 year old desperately needed in order to survive. My new bedroom burglar alarm successfully kept my Sister out, while most of the other hi-fi guts went on to become various home-brew inventions that I was very proud of. But I think my folks were happy I found something to occupy my time and saw my need to learn. School, however, was a different story. Frankly, I had no interest in math or English and, later, chemistry or a stupid foreign language. I’m embarrassed to say my grades where a joke! My Mother would demand to know “Why the hell can you get straight A’s in Gym and Music, but D’s in everything else?” I knew the answer was simple: I loved music and electronics and had little time to waste on anything else (OK, yeah, girls become very important also).
All I knew was that I wanted to do something in the music industry. I was a decent drummer, guitar and bass player who played in bands and was paid for it. What 18 year old wouldn’t want a life that included rock and roll, sound, lights and all the fun stuff it brought. I spent a few years “on the road” playing cover tunes with several bands who played the hotel circuit. To help support my music habit, I also started teaching drums and guitar to 40+ students each week. I also began to gain an interest and understanding of recording and live sound. I even invented sound-on-sound recording. OK, not really. But when I figured out how to accomplish this layering of tracks technique, I thought I was on to something until I found out Les Paul and others had beaten me to the discovery many years earlier. I guess my point is “this shit was cool and I need to figure out how to make money and be happy doing this”. At this point, my career focus had shifted from being a musician (which I still love to this day) to becoming a studio engineer or PA sound guy. So I found little time for anything but reading International Musician & Recording World magazine and couldn’t wait to get the next issue of Electro-Voice’s PA Bible (which I still have and refer to when needed).
After a stellar 5-years (huh?) of high school, I was accepted to a small but growing trade school called Full Sail located in Florida, near Orlando. I can remember when asking my father for the tuition, he said I was “F’n Goofy”. I said maybe so, but if you give me the money, I’ll be close enough to meet him. So off I went to Orlando, where I succeeded in all that they threw at me. After graduation, I used my newly-gained knowledge to take a different path than my classmates. I was offered a position with a Chicago area firm that represented the regional sales efforts for the sound and music industry. I became a Manufactures Representative for JAMM Distributing. Though I was the low man on the company org-chart, this was cool as hell. I went to music stores, pro-audio shops and sound companies with my products and asked them to buy stuff, all while learning how to sell. In 1984, imagine going into a music store with a bunch of Kramer guitars. At that time, Eddie Van Halen was endorsing Kramer and taking orders was damn easy. Other lines we carried, like QSC, Audio-Technica, EAW, Samson, Stewart Electronics and DeltaLab had the premier gear that everyone wanted, so I had to learn all about these products or look like an idiot.
A short time later, after meeting the DeltaLab National Sales Manager, I was offered and accepted a position with them as their “Product Specialist” and began to learn about and demonstrate the renowned Effectron adm1024 and its siblings. I asked my girlfriend to marry me and off we moved to the Boston area, where I started my new job.
It was so damn cool to travel the country, visit our customers and demonstrate DeltaLab’s ground-breaking products and get paid for doing it. For the next several years I changed jobs within the industry a few times and also took on and learned the jobs of Product Development, Sales, Marketing and more. I had a chance to learn, be a part of and work with some of the best people and companies in the industry. Here’s a snap shot..
While with DeltaLab, I became involved with their parent company a/d/s/, who was an industry leader in hi-fi speakers, automobile audio and consumer electronics. I also had my hand in the specification and development of multi-room, simultaneous source hi-fi gear, the early days of in-wall loudspeakers and many other new technologies that we all use today.
While at Audio Animation, I worked with the brains behind the very successful company Waves. Together, we helped establish unheard of new concepts and products which in the early 1990’s accounted for almost 70% of all music that was “mastered” after recording, prior to distribution. Similarly, I had a hand in the development and acceptance by the Broadcast and Radio Station market of digital signal processing. Today, when you listen to a radio station, you hear the sonic benefits of what we developed back then.
As National Sales & Marketing Manager at Stewart Electronics, I helped bring the new automotive Class D amplifier technology to the Pro-Audio world. Today, almost every concert and local festival sound company uses amplifiers that incorporate this design concept.
I became a freelance writer for then-popular publications like Gig Magazine, Broadcast Engineering, REP and others. Go figure, me a writer…. My Mom is still laughing …
Imagine knowing that you played a part in the development of a product for a recording studio. Sold it to that studio. Saw it used by an engineer to produce a song. Heard that song played on the radio while it is being processed for broadcast by another product you helped develop. Then listened to that same broadcast song on loudspeakers that I had a part in bringing to market. Oh yeah, then I got to write about the same products for my industry. Kinda cool I think..
After over 15 years in that industry, I decided a change and new direction would be fun. So I accepted a mid-level position as an Operations Manager for an audio visual services company (Projection Presentation Technology) who provided gear and technicians for events at The Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. Within a year, I was running my own AV Department at the old Hotel Nikko Chicago and then promoted once again to run the branch operations for the company. These positions allowed me to learn much about the rental industry within the audio-visual business. During these years, I had the privilege to work alongside entertainment and sports greats like Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Joan Rivers, Walter Payton and many more.
In 1998, my wife and I took a big chance and decided to open our own AV rental production company called Rooster Audio / Visual Services Corp. During our almost 20 years in business, we’ve had the pleasure of providing equipment and technical services throughout the country for meetings, conferences, Presidents, congressmen, bands and corporations. I guess my mentors and teachers who threw me in the deep end knew what they were doing. They taught me about people, business, how to communicate, being respectful, how to succeed and allowed me to thrive. But I need to keep learning and improving my skills. With what seems like countless hours behind the glow of an audio mixer, I added to my resume the knowledge of a live sound engineer, studio engineer, lighting guy, projectionist, truck loader, Human Resources manager and inventory control/purchasing expert. I’ve hired, trained and worked with some fine people who, I’m proud to say, have built their own successful careers within the many facets of this industry.
Along with running my rental company, I am still a musician who tries to book gigs as my schedule allows. I’m a guitar player who is a gear junkie, a technology sponge and I now try to mentor others the same way my former bosses, like John A., Jim S., Milt M., Phil D., Jeff A. along with my wife, have done for me.
I love to both learn and teach. I figured a good way to pass on some of what I’ve learned is through this site and via my blog.
I’ll end this “About Me” here. I need to go to my bench and learn why my 1948 garage sale find tube radio won’t fire up. Let’s hope it doesn’t involve much math….YUK! Or maybe I’ll just play my Taylor guitar, that my wife has named “Martin”.