Life at W.H.R. Hollywood

I started working at the L.A. studios when the takeover by Filmways was in swing. Having Wally take a back seat was not a good move. There was enough work running the studios, remote recording, Jimmy Hite’s empire in the smaller studios and the now added RCA studios with Grover Helsley scoring in studio A.

As a young lad I started from the bottom as a runner. Tape machines were adrift 24/7 in a sea of studios. Thanks to the great dedicated people I worked with it all worked. The learning environment was incredible, there you had the best remote crew, Biff, Mike and Charles Carver, Ray Thompson, Billy Mays & Billy Youdelman, Paul Sandweiss and all the rest .

Sherman Keene made sure we blossomed into fine studio employees. If you wanted to work yourself up to an engineer “ohm lad” was there.

We had an extensive collection of mics, Mark Bergallia & Phil O ‘Conner ran the inventory. I worked with a lot of very talented people. Tchad Blake, Sean Fullan, Stacy Nakisone helped to swap the 440’s, MM1200’s, outboard gear of all makes, whatever the session needed we got it done.

In 1979 we took delivery of the 1st. Ampex ATR 124, the machine was well received, we had a remote booked and they wanted to use it, so we had to transport it to the remote truck, we put it on the lift gate and while it was going up the gate flexed due to the weight of the machine and it went down on my right foot. Well we took the machine to the shop and checked it out. It was fine, solid. So I started to limp around the next day and Michael Carnavalle a 2nd engineer saw me and coined the name “Ratso Rizzo” since I’m short also.

Soon I moved up to the maintenance dept. and was working with Harold Hill, Tim Boyle, Greg Stephens, Peter Butt, who was also taking out all the capacitors in the signal path on M24 Dolby –A’s to improve its performance. I learned from the best to align and keep the tape machines on line. It was great to work on API’s and discreet Neve consoles.

I remember David Holman using up to 4 – 440 two tracks with VSO’s for slap, on top of the EMT plates and echo chambers under Ivar Street for the ‘Grease’ sessions. Our St.4 was very popular and it was separate from the rest of the studios. We made it a ‘’LEDE’’ room which at the time, was not well received by all. At the time Jim Sieder was involved with it and he did a great job. The room after we finished was handsome and the bottom end was so tight it hit you in the gut and you felt it.

Incidentally , when Tom Dowd booked the room for Kenny Loggins( Keep the Fire) sessions ,he had problems and we moved him to St. C and found that Martoni’s restaurant next store, had been using our power in their kitchen causing spikes & noise problems……..

I must say I gained a lot of experience & knowledge in a short time. It would be normal to work till the wee hours of the morning, then drive to the Santa Monica pier for sunrise.
There’s so many people and stories we haven’t heard from.

Thanks for the memories and it’s great to have a place to revive them.

ratso in studio 4
ratso in studio 4

2 thoughts on “Life at W.H.R. Hollywood”

Leave a Reply