Radio Recorders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Radio Recorders, Inc. located at 7000 Santa Monica Boulevard, was a recording studio based in Los Angeles, California.

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.[1]

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 sold in bankruptcy court. Shwartz was left broke, betrayed and feeling blindly used. With lack of capital to fight and overturn 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 story as it goes from the inside supposedly is : Schwartz had a partner before Duma and Hutchison who passed away and with him likely many of the studios strongest contracts. Under Schwartz mismanagement the studio struggled and subsequently defaulted on all financial obligations. Hutchinson wnd Dumas than found Schwartz in a vulnerable position and for a total sum if 50-60k each (100k) Schwartz agreed to partner with them. It is unclear wether they were ever added to the deed or if this money ever went to debts. Its also rumored that during the period of their partnership many raves were held in soundstage studio E(dubbed so for Elvis) and rampant drug abuse took place and continued among the partners. It is known that methamphetamine was found in the cupboards of the studio kitchen shortly after Schwartz and that his behavior was often erratic. What than takes place is a battle for property rights among all involved both the silent partner and David Bennet claiming they paid Schwartz a sum of money for his rights. One side is that a late night meeting took place with notary a menial fee was given to Schwartz and he gave his rights. The other side is David Bennet provided compensation to both Dumas and Hutchison in excess of 50k each for their investment as well as 100k to Schwartz in return fot all of their rights. The problem for Bennet being a flipper was that currently each studio was occupied by a tenant and this other silent partner was laying claim. He proceeded to systematically attempt to forge alliances under the false premises that all who helped would bennifit either from the sale / that he wouldn't sell the building and had no intention of gutting it but rather would maintain it as a studio/That he would sell the property atca fair price to a tenant if they helped him and could raise the capital in a small window.. Supposedly this stipulation was met and Bennet than backed out on his agreement. Hutchison and Dumas were the first to go followed by others. All gear by this point including the piano axel rose recorded November rain with was liquidated and only one studio operated in the building. When Bennet backed out of his deal (or perhaps the money was never actually raised) the fight for ownership intensified. Reportedly glass doors were shatterd having had the hinge pins pulled from them and orange Xs were spray painted on other wooden doors of vacant rooms when no one was around. While the silent partner and tenant had teamed up. The results were the same radio recorders studios shut its doors September 2009. Sleepy Brown of Organized Noise would be the last artist to produce a record in the building. Despite Bennett's best assurances the studios would all be gutted turned into accounting offices sadly only to become owned by a studio company againv. Schwartz sadly would take his own life.Today the space is used for art exhibits.

In 2010 the property was once again sold and is now part of the Siren Production Company.


  1. ^ Roy, James (March 2004), Radio Recorders, retrieved 2008-01-19