WYWU Road Report: Throwing It In Reverse

I hadn’t rambled enough about the first official road trip with the van and thought I’d bring everyone up to speed on the “how and why.” I’ve outfitted a 1978 Chevy Good Times Machine camper van with a podcasting rig and hit the road. For season one we attended major pro audio trade shows and conventions to meet with industry veterans and leaders. We harvested some great interviews about career and personal development from all corners of the professional audio industry.

After finally returning from the AES and NAB events at the Javits Center in New York City, the new WYWU episodes are cranking out my anticipated speed of “less than slow” and we’re getting them through the editing process as quickly as… well, at my pace. Follow us on your favorite social media and I’ll let you know when the new episodes are finally live.

For the first outing I conned my guitar prodigy son and aspiring photographer, Garrison, into joining me for a thrown-together scramble towards 2019 Summer NAMM in Nashville.

Thrown-together as in I didn’t own a proper mobile podcasting rig the week before.

With an unexpected urgency to set the podcasting plan in motion, I roped in my buddy Steve Milner from DcSoundOp.com and unloaded the random qualifications I felt the perfect system would offer. Steve is a great guy and often featured on PSW with interviews and product reviews. I absolutely trust his judgment and respect his opinion. He gave me three recommendations for a portable recorder and of the three I grabbed the Zoom H6 with complete confidence.

Randomly Reminiscing

It honestly wasn’t until we had returned from this trip that I remembered a conversation from 1997 in the parking lot behind the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, Arizona. I told some of the folks from class I was going to build a studio in my conversion van. It took 21 years, and seven different vans, to finally even remember that conversation. Live sound paid the bills, but there’s just something about the studio…

Back then, I was thinking about nothing except recording live albums. I’m not sure how logical that particular prophesy might have seemed at the time, considering the size of most studio gear in the 90s. And although this Analog Man had to change some ways to make it all work in a digital world, there are no legitimate complaints.

For the record, I fully endorse the Zoom H6 portable six-track digital recorder for anyone considering podcasting. If you’re working in a controlled environment there are probably more appropriate choices, but for field work like we do on WYWU, it is perfect. (Perfect in the sense that illuminated buttons would make it more perfect.)

Into The Podcasting Fray

So with less than a week to go before Summer NAMM, I basically ripped open my wallet and made an investment in myself that I wasn’t sure I was prepared for. I knew the questions I wanted answered and some of the people I wanted to ask. My plan for all this came down to three requirements: a creative and profitable venture I could sustain indefinitely, operate within my current budget for one year and create something I would gladly listen to repeatedly.

That’s something you’re going to need to understand quickly if you’re shooting for a career in the studio: Whatever project you sign on for is going to be in your ears for a while, over and over. One specific project made me hate myself for even being there. I told them to keep my name off everything. I finished it to their satisfaction, but hated every moment with the client. And so ended my push towards working in someone else’s studio and began the quest for my own. Every interview I capture is just a conversation that I want to hear again anyway. Perfect.

Fully Committed

It didn’t take long to identify the single most daunting consideration before pulling the trigger on a new podcast: “I’m not good enough for this.” Yep. That inner dragon was all over this decision.

I needed the podcast more than my audience did. I needed to take the skills accumulated over the course of my life, pick the ones I’m willing to do daily and find somewhere to focus them. For anyone with an entry-level home studio needing your own in-house product, podcasting is the next big thing and only seemed logical to me. (My “Mostly Useful Links” box in the upper left has all of my podcasting gear choices.)

For the Summer NAMM run we made an “all-in” decision. Buy the needed gear, gas up the “not-completely-road-ready” forty-year old van, rent a cheap hotel room online, fling ourselves through the front doors of NAMM and grab anyone willing to talk. That was the extent of the plan. And we have WAY more pictures of guitars than guests for some reason…

I spent many, many years running around the country mixing and recording, but was rarely able to take the family along. Having my son out with me made a good experience better. We bumped into Mark Frink and claimed our first victim while Garrison drifted into the holy epicenter of all things guitars. Mark recommended the Whisper Room booth on the show floor and WYWU’s first official episode was captured.

Shortly afterward, Sean Giovani from The Record Shop studios in Nashville began his TEC Tracks session. Immediately afterwards I dragged him into a nearby Whisper Room and recorded a second incredible interview.

We still have more episodes from that trip to publish, now that we’ve secured a copy of iZotope’s RX software to clean up the noise. I record face to face and wherever I can. RX is helping solve the background noise issue that I just decided to accept for the sake of capturing content. Check out the upcoming interview with Bob Clearmountain and know it was recorded in the second loudest part of AES. The Lennon Bus wins for loudest, with a live band fifty-feet away.

My intention is to update the road report for every trip and to shamelessly promote WYWU on our social media channel. Follow us, and try to keep us.

Published by M. Erik Matlock

Erik is a father, grandfather, old sound guy, microphone junkie, Java Monster addict and fan of vintage street machines. He's the creator and host of the WYWU: Working Your Way Up podcast, CampgroundNewbie.com, founder of UVXcreative.com, author and former senior editor of ProSoundWeb and Live Sound International. His latest project is a collaboration with Allnaturalideas.com to develop a digital magazine focused on holistic lifestyle and sustainable practices. Look for the first issue summer 2022. Sign up for their email list to get the first issue free.

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