Today was my first day working as an intern at the Echoes recording studios in Chester Springs PA.
I woke up at about 9:15 AM this morning after sleeping through two alarms. I had ten minutes to get ready, eat breakfast, and head off to the studios, which are about thirty minutes away from my house. Fortunately, I arrived at the studios at the same time as Kimberly Haas, the Echoes’ executive producer. As we walked in the front door to the studios, we were greeted by Manny, the “studio dog”, who would eagerly be keeping me company for the rest of the day. I turned a corner and found John Diliberto perched over a computer keyboard, organizing and arranging various sound files that would come together to build an Echoes broadcast that would be airing later this week. I was then given a tour of the studios.
The recording room, or the “black room” as it is known, is small, but has fit up to nine musicians during one show in the previous years. The walls are covered with echo-eliminating foam, which improves the room’s acoustics greatly. Outside of the recording space sits a console piled high with computers and various recording interfaces. It was fascinating seeing the guts of a radio recording studio. Next we visited Kimberly and John’s offices, which were both adorned with the autographed works of a favorite artist of mine, Roger Dean. If you are unfamiliar with him, he did much of the album artwork for the progressive rock band Yes. His futuristic imagery and beautiful space-age landscapes are absolutely captivating. Next, we visited the room where I would spend most of my day, the archives room. The first thing I saw when I entered the archives was a bulky, twenty-year-old reel-to-reel tape machine. The room was filled to the brim with stacks of magazines and tape reels containing recordings of shows from the analog age. Gazing along the walls of alphabetized tapes, some of my favorite artists jumped out of the stacks, namely Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Michael Giles, and many others. I was in audio-geek heaven.
My hypnosis was lifted by John’s deep voice, “now, let’s get to work!” My first task was to successfully boot up and clean up a very old computer that had very clearly seen better days. My experience in computer maintenance helped me complete this job quickly. Next, I did some biographical archive work. This consisted of locating and organizing each biographical article sent to the Echoes studios by record labels, so that the people at Echoes have background information on each person they interview. It took me about four hours, including a thirty minute lunch break, to sort through a massive stack of biographies and various press releases that Echoes had received in the past month and a half. It was fascinating to read these articles, especially those that were focused on my favorite artists.
At around 3:30, I had finished my work for the day. Despite the fact that this day revolved around digital housekeeping and organizational tasks, I still had a fantastic time becoming more comfortable in a studio setting and familiarizing myself with the process of radio show production. At the end of the day, John and I reviewed the schedule for the next two weeks. It is clear that the busy work I did today will soon be replaced by more hands-on activities.
In addition to coming in every day at about 10:00 AM, I will be attending and helping out at a few live in-studio, living room, and theater performance events being hosted by John and Echoes:
Friday, February 26th: Phil Keaggy in-studio recording session.
Monday, March 1st: Living Room recording session with Balmorhea.
Thursday, March 4th: Sellersville Theater concert featuring Bill Frisell.
I am incredibly excited to be meeting and working with these globally acclaimed and celebrated musicians.
Some examples of music that appears on Echoes regularly:
Robert Fripp: Soundscaping
Brian Eno: Music For Airports