2015 November, Vol 63 No. 11
When the Department Chair at the college I was teaching at singled me out and told me that I had been designated to serve as the AES Faculty Advisor to our new AES student chapter, I really didn’t know what to think. I was a little scared believing that maybe I didn’t know enough to be in this position. At that time, I had never opened an AES Journal. I had never visited a convention. I had never even been to a local professional section meeting. I was fully unacquainted with the AES, and who was I really in this grand world of audio?
The only thing that I had going for me was an authentic curiosity. So, I called legendary CBS recording engineer Don Puluse and asked Don to speak with our new chapter about his work with Sly Stone, Chicago, and Leonard Bernstein. Don, who lived in a nearby town, was happy to oblige and captivated our group with stories of his career as an engineer and as an educator. It all seemed way too easy. Our group of students and educators was enthralled, and Don seemed happy to make connection and share himself with this next generation. The next month I called my friend Mark Ethier who ran a small fledgling company, Izotope. I asked Mark to talk about a new software product for mastering that Izotope had just released. An overflow room saw a demo of Ozone 1.0 and debated if the complex art of mastering records could actually be preformed “in the box.”
Next, I called the regional vice president for the AES, Jim Anderson, and asked Jim to come up from New York to present his lecture, the “Art of Jazz Recording.” I had never heard recordings that good. Jim’s genius as an engineer came right through the Genelecs, and the whole crowd was similarly transformed as Jim discussed the philosophies that took us way beyond the simple selections of rooms and gear.
Well-attended monthly meetings followed with presentations on drum tuning, wax cylinders, delay, recording the Beatles, Apple’s new Logic DAW, Wallace Sabine and the history of Boston’s Symphony Hall, and visits by industry pioneers Barry Blesser, Bill Hanley, Dave Moulton, Gunther Schuller, and Leo Beranek. We invited other local college audio programs to join us at our campus, and our events got even larger and more impressive. I submitted reports of our events to this journal and we were officially recognized.
Professor Alex Case of the nearby University of Massachusetts and I discussed a single-day event of workshops, tutorials, studio demos, and exhibitions and the first annual Boston Area Definitive Audio Student Summit (B.A.D.A.S.S.) was born. 400–500 college audio students, faculty, administrators, and regional professionals would gather for this single-day event under a big AES banner that I borrowed from the New York headquarters. It was an annual mini-AES convention designed to teach students how to talk to professionals, how to ask questions and listen to answers, and mostly to entice my students to get to the big show. It put my small college on the audio map, and this high-profile extracurricular work endeared me to my department chair, my academic dean, and even my college president who seemed to finally know my name. My involvement as an AES Faculty Advisor was invaluable for my own career as an educator while providing so much extra for my students who were launching their own new careers in the field.
I was always excited to attend AES conventions in New York, LA, San Francisco, and various cities in Europe, learning about new technology and meeting my audio heroes like Tom Dowd, Phil Ramone, Ray Dolby, Bob Moog, Doug Fearn, Wes Dooley, and George Massenburg. When I was 16 years old, a high school classmate, knowing that I was intrigued by multitrack recording, suggested I secure a copy of Craig Anderton’s Home Recording for Musicians. In high school, I couldn’t put that book down. And who do I find myself talking to at one of my first AES conventions: the author himself, Craig Anderton. I encouraged more and more of my students to participate, to take the leap of faith to get themselves to the conventions. I came to notice that the students who were able to attend AES Conventions were the ones who became more acquainted with the audio industry and landed in better jobs. Participation in the AES was really the dividing line between the students who would move on to the most professional career outcomes and those who would have a more difficult struggle locally.
I became involved in the AES Education Committee, and eventually became its chairman. My goal was to build a worldwide community of educators who, without judgment, could learn from each other about facilities, curriculum, research, and pedagogy. All added to the debate and all were generous with their wisdom and experience. All made a community I would reengage with each year at AES events. I became a better teacher from what I learned from this community. All have become lifelong friendships that I treasure.
In the summer of 2014, I was nominated to run for AES president and was honored to be elected by our membership. I took office on November 8, 2015 succeeding Andres Mayo, who accomplished a great deal of good for the Society in his term. My goals are to make better use of 21st century tools to strengthen and engage our community and to focus our narrative and our message so that the world knows better who we are and what we do. I look forward to a busy year of partnership, working with our AES Executive Committee, Board of Governors, Technical Committees, HQ staff, and Executive Director Bob Moses, to continue the successes forged by those who have preceded me.
So what made you join the Audio Engineering Society? I’m sure that your answer contains a narrative much like mine with perhaps a little insecurity followed by a wealth of knowledge, discovery, connection, community, and friendship. I look forward to connecting with you.