My day job is co-owner of Audio for the Arts, which is a professional studio and on-location recording company. We specialize in acoustic music and spoken word recording and also do radio production, TV and podcast audio and theatrical sound design.
In my production role, I love working with music—especially acoustical—and my favorite genres are classical and jazz. One of my earliest recording assignments was for a Tchaikovsky concert in Dayton. As I was preparing to record, I could almost sense Tchaikovsky right there with me saying, “Buzz, don’t screw this up.” I’m extremely aware of the weight of history.
When I’m producing a creative piece, I always say that I’m not the person putting the paint on the canvas; I’m the person framing and lighting it in the best possible way so others can enjoy it.
I’m also a voiceover talent. My first gig in this arena was for a shoe store. One of my college friends worked there and his boss was doing a radio ad and asked me to be the voice talent. My pay: a pair of Hush Puppies (which was great pay for a college kid). Over the years I’ve done video games and audio books, as well as things like awards ceremonies for corporate clients.
I had a great drama teacher in college, Donna Marie Nudd. I was so into her creativity and genius. And another professor, Scott Bryce, taught us to let “the words lead and your voice follow.” Otherwise, it’s too easy to be overly theatrical and to end up saying everything like you’re Ted Baxter.
No matter what type of project I’m doing for a client, my goal is always to add value. People are overworked, understaffed and never have enough time. I always want to beat their deadline and make their life easier.
For fun, I produce Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen for WVMO—an all-volunteer radio station in Monona—and also have my own show on the station, Sunday Afternoon Live with Buzz Kemper. I’ll play any genre. I pick my music using the Duke Ellington maxim, “If it sounds good, it is good.”
My most memorable caffeine was consumed one winter during college when I was living in a tiny house out in the country that was heated with a wood-burning stove. I was often up until three or four in the morning doing my schoolwork and used coffee to stay warm and keep awake. I actually got to the point where I had consumed so much coffee that I had the sensation my organs were shaking.
My current caffeine of choice is a dark roast with cream and honey. Sometimes I’ll have a “fancy coffee” but 99 times out of 100, I’ll go with my dark roast. I don’t really like sugar, but honey is the nectar of the gods.
My favorite place for caffeine is Indie Coffee on Regent Street, which is conveniently located between my apartment and my job. The owner, J.J., is one of those people who has the magical quality of making you feel as if seeing you is the highlight of their day.
The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Stephen Hawking. I’ve been reading a lot about quantum physics of late, including The Grand Design, and I’m fascinated by the guy whose quest is to develop The Theory of Everything (a single theory that would explain all science under one mathematical umbrella). Einstein’s theories fail at the quantum level and Hawking is trying to find theories that work at both the macro and quantum levels. It would be great to sit down and talk with him about that.
World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: is closed mindedness. This almost sounds cliché at this point, but I think it’s critical. Too often, people on both sides only look at information that fits into their worldview. Wouldn’t it be great if people could open themselves up to information, whether it fits their world view or not? The world would be a different place.