Many notable musicians are reported to have been recorded in the studio include Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Jimmie Rodgers, Louis Armstrong, Mario Lanza, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Paul Frees and The Carpenters among others. In its prime, the studio was known as the best recording facility in Los Angeles.
During the forties and fifties, Radio Recorders was responsible for recording countless radio shows, both network and local, for delayed broadcast, not always for California, but for many western states. Telephone lines ran to all the important stations and the networks. Studio C was the nerve center with at least six recording lathes and turntables and an "on-the-air" playback turntable protected by a railing so that it would not be bumped while it was playing a program onto the air. The recording lathes were shock mounted in sand to prevent rumble from the street cars on Santa Monica Boulevard. For much of that era, the recordings were made and played back on lacquer coated aluminum discs, before tape recording was introduced. The room could handle several programs at once, 24 hours a day, and quite often a single engineer on duty would have his hands full!
Most of the major labels used Radio Recorders well into the 1960s. Columbia, RCA Victor, Capitol, and Decca ultimately had their own facilities, but Radio Recorders was still the choice of many independent labels and both popular and classical artists, from Stravinsky to Elvis. In addition, most of the jingles were recorded there. In 1962 H.B. Barnum and Bill Aken chose the annex to record their big band version of 'Goody, Goody" for Governor Goodwin J. (Goodie) Knight's re-election campaign. Additionally in 1962 Bill Aken would record the classic 'Theme For Shock Theater,' again with engineer Phil Yeend working the board. The main location at 7000 Santa Monica had two large studios and some smaller ones, as well as disc mastering facilities. In 1946, the company remodeled a warehouse at 1032 North Sycamore Avenue and built a large studio, capable of handling approximately fifty musicians. This studio was known as Radio Recorders Annex, or, within the industry, just "The Annex." The warehouse originally belonged to RCA Victor and "the Annex" was a legendary studio that Victor had built in their warehouse back in the `30's.
In 1965, Radio Recorders' star engineer, Thorne Nogar, purchased The Annex and started his own independent Annex Studios, which attracted a distinguished clientele as a full service studio, including mastering. For many years, Lawrence Welk pre-recorded the music for his popular television show, becoming the most important client; in addition, in the 1960s and 1970s Annex mastered for such labels as Uni Records, Dot Records and Ranwood Records, as well as cutting early pressings of Barbra Streisand's hit single "The Way We Were." The Annex's location now houses The Record Plant Studios.
In the late 1980's the studio was reopened as Studio 56 by Paul Shwartz. At that time bands such as Guns & Roses, Sugar Ray, Toni Braxton, Brandy, No Doubt and others recorded there. The documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" was also partially filmed there. Kenneth Crouh, Keith Crouch and Leon Sylvers were all house producers there at that time.
In 2002 the studio gained two new partners Pride Hutchison and Michael Dumas. The studio was then brought back to business under its original name Radio Recorders and they enlisted the help of longtime friend Jordan Winsen as their new engineer. In 2004 the property was declared a historic attraction but never achieved official landmark status by the city of Los Angeles. From 2002 to 2008 the studio welcomed many great projects and clients including Natalie Cole, Dwight Yoakum, Lucinda Williams, Lil' John, Exzihbit, Annie Lennox and many more... The facility closed again in 2008 a midst a fraud dispute between Hutchison, Dumas and Shwartz, Silent owners seeking to save the building and real estate property flipper David Bennet. In the end the building was illegally sold in bankruptcy court using the bankruptcy laws to their advantage Bennet, Hutchison and Dumas walked away pockets heavier. Shwartz was left broke, betrayed and feeling blindly used. With Lack of capitol to stall fight and over turn the courts decision the silent owners were left with no moves and the legendary radio recorders building was gutted and demolished from the inside. The magic of its walls, parky wood floors and perfect control room gone. History sold to the highest bidder.
In 2010 the property was once again sold and is now part of the Siren Production Company.