Monday, March 13, 2017

31 Women in Audio: Caryl Owen

Mix Messiah Productions presents: 31 Women in Audio, a series celebrating Women's History Month.

Day 12: Caryl Owen

Today, we speak with Caryl Owen, a Peabody-award winning Broadcast / Recording Technician formerly of National Public Radio.

Leslie Gaston Bird: What childhood experiences do you think led you to a love for the field of audio?
Caryl Owen: My Mom played piano, and I spent hours on the floor underneath it, listening to her playing. I still like the sounds underneath a grand piano! I had a little pink and grey Columbia record player and what seems to have been a complete set of Golden Books Records, but my real favorites were our recordings of Scheherazade and Richard Rodger's Victory at Sea.

LGB: What was your earliest experience with recording?
CO: Well, it all started with recording favorite songs off the radio onto cassettes using a cheap mic pointed at my clock radio's speaker. I still have some of those atrocious sounding things! I learned how to run a cheap PA mixer for the guys who had a garage band down the street in high school, Mixed for my bands when I wasn't singing (and sometimes when I was,) played around at college radio stations, shadowed a friend who was a monitor mixer for Kiss, and eventually took a class at a little local recording studio where I ended up running the office while teaching classes - sometimes I was only a week or so ahead of my students; that's a good way to learn fast!

LGB: Please compare your leadership role now with past roles you had in other, perhaps larger companies / crews.
CO: I've always worked for studios or stations, but I've been teaching audio recording since I began working in the field. Mentoring someone who has a deep desire to learn is one of the most satisfying things I've done, I'm so proud to have helped some very talented people get started.

LGB: What questions do you DISLIKE being asked related to women in audio?
CO: Ask anything you like, I'll answer if I feel it's germane to the conversation. Is being a woman in audio hard? Sure! Not as bad as it was in the 70's, but there are still problems, I have a friend who was sexually harassed by her boss in November of 2016.

LGB: What questions would you PREFER to be asked related to women in audio?
CO: The same questions an interviewer would ask any man.
LGB: What female role models do you have, fictional or real?
CO: Xena, Warrior Princess and Martha Stewart.
Kick ass, and be perfect.

LGB: What upcoming projects are you excited about?
CO: I've just retired but have a couple of prospects to consider.
Of the things I've done in the past, I'm probably most proud of the many projects (and three Peabody awards) I worked on with David Isay. Even after all this time, Ghetto Life 101 sounds amazing, especially when you consider that the original recordings were made to cassette by a couple of kids, and the mix was all analog, multi-machine choreography. We figured it took an hour to mix each minute of the final piece.

LGB:: Finally, be sure to tell me about anything you want to promote.

CO: Nothing right now. My last show, To the Best of Our Knowledge ( is in the able hands of my last mentee, Joe Hardtke.

-Leslie Gaston-Bird
Owner, Mix Messiah Productions, LLC