The Final Mix

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By Steve Oppenheimer

(September 1998)

The January 1998 issue was my first as editor of EM after ten years of working in other editorial positions at the magazine. One of my first decisions was to initiate a new opinion column by a freelance author that would appear on the back page and serve as a “bookend” to my “Front Page” (later renamed “First Take”) column. Although I had a few possible columnists in mind, I had not yet selected one for the job.

So I called an editorial staff meeting and presented the qualifications I was looking for in an opinion columnist. I wanted someone whose writing was familiar to EM readers. We needed a musician who had produced and engineered a wide variety of projects. He or she should be an industry veteran who knew the business from the inside yet understood the problems and pleasures of personal-studio ownership. And, of great importance, I wanted a writer who wasn’t afraid to express strong opinions but understood our responsibilities as the voice of, and information source for, personal-studio owners.

That was a tall order, but the staff had a simple and unanimous answer: it had to be Larry the O. There was no doubt in my mind that Larry would do a great job, and we work together very well, so that part was no problem. “But,” I pointed out, “Larry is my brother. What about charges of nepotism?” That was not an issue, the editors insisted, because Larry had written forEM long before I was on the staff. In fact, he introduced me to the company. I took the idea and my concern about nepotism to then-publisher John Pledger, who had only one question: “Can you afford him?” Yes, Larry was willing to accept my financial terms.

So the “Final Mix” column was launched in the February 1998 issue of EM. And it has appeared monthly on the back page of our magazine ever since. Until now.

That’s right, dear readers, the October issue of EM contained the final “Final Mix” column. After an eight-and-a-half-year run, we’ve decided to let the column go to make room for some new and different columns that I will announce in the near future. Larry will, however, continue to write for the magazine when his time permits, as he has since 1986.

The “Final Mix” column has been very well received over the years, so we did not make this decision lightly. In fact, we wrestled with it for well over a year. But we want to do new things, and given that magazine space is limited, we had to make sacrifices. We think that you will be pleased with the new columns when we are ready to unveil them.

So here’s a hearty and most grateful thank-you to my brother and best friend, Larry the O, for his many words of wisdom in “Final Mix.” He did a great job, and I will make sure that he continues to contribute to our pages as often as possible. And in case you missed any of his “Final Mix” columns, you can read all those that were published between September 1999 and October 2006 for free in the article archives on our Web site at www.emusician.com.

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