With vital music, culture, and news scenes and plentiful internship opportunities, Washington is an ideal location for launching an audio tech career. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 21% employment growth for broadcast, sound, and video technicians (vs. 8% for all occupations) from 2020 to 2030. For the DC area, BLS projects double the typical concentration of available jobs, compared to the national average. For both sound engineers and audio/video technicians annual mean wages around $70K rank among the highest in the US.
Recent alums have landed positions with
- Capitol Studios, the Cutting Room, Electric Lady Studios, Quad Studios, and Korg
- NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
- National Science Foundation
- Waveguide LLC
- Brookings Institution
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- American Enterprise Institute
- NPR, WAMU, BBC, and Sirius XM
- The Walt Disney Company
- VICE, IMG Media, and Vox Media
- The Voice
- DC music venues including Union Stage and Songbyrd Music House.
Selected Student Profiles
Daniel KaiserHouse Engineer at Quad Studios
When Daniel graduated in 2019, his goal was to work as a sound engineer recording top musical talent. He used the skills he acquired in the program to land an internship at Sear Sound in Hell’s Kitchen and ultimately a full-time paid position at Quad Studios, one of the premier recording destinations in New York City, where he worked his way up to house engineer and has had the privilege of working with HER, Pi’erre Bourne, Cyndi Lauper, King Von, Busta Rhymes, London on da Track, and Greg Forgue.
One of the projects Daniel is most proud of, Wbawp (Breathe), featuring Kayla Shea by Brodie Fresh (pictured), was recorded while Daniel and Brodie Fresh watched the Black Lives Matter marches pass through Times Square from Quad’s 10 th foor studio window. “A truly humbling experience to work on music with such an important message during a pivotal time.”
His advice: “Collaborate with one another and be bold in [your] approach to the music creation process... For some reason engineers and producers like to gatekeep as if we are all competing and there isn’t enough music to go around. If, in the medical field, doctors didn’t share their findings, humans would suffer the ultimate price... We should share this same intensity regarding knowledge and sharing information in order to better develop the music landscape
for all. Be willing to share knowledge, open to collaboration, and brave when experimenting within audio.”
Capsule originally appeared in Audio Tech Newsletter.
Éowyn Fain (May 2020, BA, Audio Production) didn’t necessarily expect that her dream job would be at a public radio station in Asheville, North Carolina. “Most folks encouraged me to focus my job search around the larger cities with major music studios… Los Angeles and New York,” said Éowyn, who was recently hired as Blue Ridge Public Radio’s operations coordinator and radio announcer.
It was during her year-and-a-half-long job search post-graduation – much of which took place during the uncertain days at the height of the pandemic –
Fain found herself reflecting on what she describes as NPR’s empathetic and human approach to storytelling. One story in particular stuck in her mind: its focus was a housing complex damaged by mold – and the Mexican immigrants whose health had been impacted.
“The sound design of the piece really conveyed the feeling of those families. You could hear the effect in their voices. You could hear the coughing in the background.” She felt called to action and drawn to the work.
She also encourages those who are job searching to consider careers outside of the major metropolitan areas. “There are wonderful opportunities out there and many places offer vibrant local culture and music scenes,” said Fain who plays guitar, bass and flute and as a student hosted a weekly music program for American University’s student-run station WVAU.
In addition to traditional news and narrative radio programming, Blue Ridge Public Radio also produces Close to Home, a weekly program featuring the classic folk and Americana stylings of renowned dulcimer player Don Pedi. It’s a show Éowyn Fain holds close to her heart. Pedi has been broadcasting in some form or another on Blue Ridge Public Radio since 1985. “It’s pretty amazing, actually,” says Éowyn.
Capsule originally appeared in Audio Tech Newsletter.
Adam Horin came to AU with a degree in Neurobiology & Physiology from Purdue, along with a lifelong passion for music. He had previously worked in biomedical research labs at the National Institutes of Health and Purdue, and has authored two professional publications as well as presented posters on his research at conferences around the country. But he never lost the creative spark for writing his own songs, and decided to pursue a degree with ATEC to learn about music production in an academic setting.
In this academic setting, Horin has been able to continue pursuing his interest in biomedical research while also learning about the technical skills of producing his own music. On top of his ATEC courses he has also been able to integrate psychology courses into the degree as his electives and has had an internship doing research on singing therapy in Parkinson's disease at Wash U School of Medicine in St. Louis. His Master's capstone project investigates the principles of rhythm processing and its applications for rhythm discrimination tasks used to assess neurological deficits. ATEC has provided him with a skill set in audio engineering that he has been able to carry over into his research endeavors. After completing his Master's, Horin plans on pursuing a doctoral degree to continue doing research that incorporates his passions for music and science. "I've found this niche that really blends both those passions together for me in a way that I didn't even imagine until I was doing my Master's," reflects Horin.
James Reber has come full circle since completing his Master's in Audio Technology at AU. What began as a quest to understand sound itself as an young man has morphed into a career allowing others to learn as he did. Reber's class at AU emphasizes studio techniques for aspiring undergrads to learn from a professional in the field.
When not teaching at AU, Reber found his calling as a broadcast engineer for the BBC at the Washington, DC. bureau. His education allowed him access to a job where he works to maintain the technical infrastructure of the BBC's operation in DC as well as assisting with news programs taped on site. His career has allowed him to harness the innovative techniques he learned at AU to help deliver the news to waiting ears.
Gaston Reboredo does not worry too much about being in the background as a sound engineer. Instead he focuses on the important roles he has had at WAMU with NPR's All Things Considered and nowthe Brookings Institution. While receiving his BA and MA from AU's ATEC program, Reboredo landed an internship with NPR, where he enjoyed access to knowledge and equipment that is usually reserved for professionals. He remains active in the Audio Engineering Society that he first joined as a student at AU.
Alumni in the Field
Selected post-graduation career paths:
- Laurie Adlington, Studio Manager for Sam Jones Pictures; recent clients include Hugh Jackman and Robert Downey, Jr.
- Will Fortune, Audio Engineer at Georgetown Post in Washington, DC; worked on ads for the Obama campaign in the 2012 presidential election
- Tom Gardner, Rift Studios NYC, formerly Chief Engineer and Studio Manager at the Cutting Room
- Ira Grylack, Audio Engineer, Capitol Studios
- Eric Kenehan, Digital Content Editor at the hit television show, The Voice
- Nick Krill, lead singer of the Spinto Band and owner/operator of the Garden Center Studios in Wilmington, Delaware
- Max Lauer-Bader, Senior Manager, Social Media and Content at Guitar Center, formerly Director of Product Support at Korg
- Shane Lewis, Audio Engineer, DC Radio
- Shannon Lynch, Audio Engineer & Associate Producer at New America and Founder/Director of She Votes
- James Reber, Broadcast Engineer at BBC
- Norm Robinson, Post-production Audio Engineer at Silver Spring Studios
- Andros Rodriguez, freelance audio engineer in New York; past projects with Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, Ludacris, !!!, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Jewel, Whitney Houson, Madonna, Florence and the Machine, and Jamie Foxx
- Joe Sigmund, Partner with Surefire Agency and consultant for music technology firms
- Lisa Weiner, Producer 1, Morning Edition at NPR