Famed Alabama recording studio launches new podcast series
An AP Member Exchange shared by the TimesDaily
SHEFFIELD, Ala. (AP) — Muscle Shoals Sound Studio’s first major recording session in 1969 will be the topic of the iconic recording studio’s first podcast, which is expected to debut Sunday, the same day Cher’s “3614 Jackson Highway” session concluded.
Debbie Wilson, the studio’s executive director, said the subject of the first podcast is appropriate since “3614 Jackson Highway,” which features the musicians and producers standing in front of the building, is being released by Run Out Groove Records to commemorate the album’s 50th anniversary.
The album featured the studio’s rhythm section — Barry Beckett on keyboards, Roger Hawkins on drums, David Hood on bass and Jimmy Johnson on guitar. Eddie Hinton played lead guitar and Jeannie Greene, Donna Jean Thatcher, Mary Holladay and Sue Pilkington provided backing vocals.
“That’s the thing that got us started,” Wilson said. “The Cher sessions will be literally 50 years old on the 19th. They finished on the 21st.”
A podcast is a series of audio or video files about a topic that can be downloaded and listened to, or subscribed to through various services like iTunes. The term was created from the iPod media player and the word “broadcast.”
Podcasts can be listened to on various music file players or cellphones.
Wilson said the podcast idea came from studio Manager Anna Hyde, First Impressions Coordinator Mallory Kirk and tour guide Terrell Benton, who will record the podcast.
“It’s really good exposure,” Wilson said of the studio entering the podcasting world. “We have so many stories to tell. It’s another marketing tool to get it out there. It will take marketing to the next level.”
Hyde said each edition of the podcast will last 20 minutes. Hyde said research indicates listeners lose interest after about 20 minutes.
During staff discussions, Hyde said Benton asked who would actually speak on the podcast. Hyde said she responded, “You.”
“I volunteered him to do that,” Hyde said. “His voice tells a story. That’s what you want a podcast to do, and it’s easy to understand his voice.”
Benton said he’s getting some help from Nina Jackson, the production manager at Big River Broadcasting, who will serve as his de facto producer.
Hyde said the podcasts will be quarterly at first, but could expand in frequency in the future.
“As it grows, we may amp that up,” Hyde said. “We hope at some point to do video recording at the same time on a YouTube channel so people can watch.”
Benton already has numerous ideas for future podcasts, including a history of some of the more recognizable albums recorded in the studio, including Boz Scaggs’ second album.
“David told me some great stories of that recording,” he said.
He’d also like to take a look at the Leon Russell sessions where producer Denny Cordell called the rhythm section the “Swampers,” a name that stuck with them for decades.
Producer Jerry Wexler could be the subject of a future podcast, as could the Swampers themselves and the unsung guitarist and songwriter Eddie Hinton.
“It’s storytelling,” Benton said.
Above all, Wilson said the podcasts are another way to promote the studio, and they could end up creating revenue if advertisers can be secured. The first episode has already received sponsorship from Florence-Lauderdale Tourism and NuWay Vinyl in Muscle Shoals. They will also promote them through the studio’s website and Facebook page.
“More than anything, it’s a good marketing tool and good exposure for the sponsors,” Wilson said. “We want to market it internationally, too.”
Hyde said the podcasts must be approved by whoever is offering them before they area made public, at least for the first few releases.
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was only open for 10 years at 3614 Jackson Highway before moving to a building on Alabama Avenue.