Pensado’s Place is much more than an Internet-based TV show. That’s how it started five years ago, for sure, the first few episodes posted to a new site, shot in a makeshift studio at a digital network called This Weekend, with a little social media thrown in. And that’s how most viewers first discovered it, from a link that brought them to the set where Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick combined folksy charm, hard business advice, tutorial technology lessons, and a bit of fun over the course of a weekly hour in conversation with engineers, producers and musicians. All for the pro audio community.
That was Phase One, the origin story, and it’s been told in outlets as wide-ranging as Forbes and The Huffington Post. It’s a story that involves career re-invention and a longstanding friendship between Pensado and Trawick, the Talent and the Producer/Manager, The Gold Standard and The Visionary, with natural chemistry on-camera and off. After about eight months of weekly shows, live events combining performance and technology were added, then a book, then an awards show. Sponsors caught on and lent financial and technology support. The number of views piled up.
Today, Pensado’s Place is viewed in nearly 150 countries, with more than 500,000 monthly views and 132,000 unique visitors. There are 17,000 members in a student group, and more than 120 schools, recording programs and studios use Pensado’s Place or Into The Lair as a teaching tool or in their curriculum. It’s a community that came together very quickly, a niche market riding the crest of new-media distribution. And while it seems to have evolved organically, slowly, with new mediums of dissemination added piece by piece, it’s all been part of the plan from Day One.
“When we first started, it was a show about audio,” says Dave Pensado. “Somewhere along the way, it felt like we were given a de facto responsibility for our audio family. All of my friends are engineers, and it became more than something we were doing; it became something our friends needed. In our first year, Chris Lord-Alge came to me and said, ‘Dave, you and Herb have made our profession superstars. I’ve been recognized on the street.’ Herb found a way to make it grow into something the audio industry recognizes as its own.”
While Pensado is the front man on air and maintains his music engineering career, waking each morning and doing a mix, Trawick has become an equal voice on camera and the true force behind the scenes of Penwick Media, their equal-partner co-venture. As Pensado says, “I told Herb that he can leave me alone on the music side, and I’ll leave him alone as he plots world domination.”
“What we thought was going to be temporary, providing content, something online, has now become something that is a cause celbre,” Trawick adds. “So we had to nurture it and grow it, or walk away. The responsibility had grown too big. Students and parents and our family of engineers—educators and schools took us seriously from the beginning, and we took their attention seriously.”
The rapid five-year growth took place in a variety of facilities, all of them rented, all of them limited in some way. To complete Phase Two and become a true media company, with a digital, print and events portfolio, Pensado and Trawick needed their own space. About five months ago, in partnership with Westlake Pro Audio (whose CTO, Jonathan Deans, is the director of Pensado’s Place), they outlined their needs, and in late November 2015, they moved into the new Pensado Media Center on Lankershim Boulevard in Los Angeles.
“We had created the online hub for audio,” Trawick says. “Now we wanted a physical hub for audio. We have eight to ten sets to roll in and out. Green screen. Different furniture configurations. Makeup. Office space. Classroom. We can live stream anywhere. We can shoot curriculum, equipment demos. We have a photo gallery, the first of its kind for audio, and a library where we plan to do book signings and serve as a repository of all the industry’s knowledge.”
And there’s so much more. The new facilities include a room for The Vocal Booth, a soon-to-come Internet radio/podcast producer and aggregator—adding other voices to the Pensado Brand. At NAMM this month, Pensado’s Place is announcing a global partnership with Hal Leonard Publishing to provide the Strive curriculum series to more than 65 countries and 7,000 worldwide educational outlets. Plus, three more Media Centers are planned—East Coast, Nashville and another TBD.
There will be 10 live events this year, including two Gear Expos, L.A. and Nashville, with original Title Sponsor Vintage King. There are talks with Russia and India. The Awards Show promises to get even larger. And Pensado’s Place itself is now at 240 episodes, branching out into areas such as film music and forensic audio—all of it free to the online community thanks to sponsors such as The Blackbird Academy, Audio-Technica, Avid, iZotope and many others.
“Every month I wake up at least once and think this can’t possibly go on any longer,” Pensado laughs. “On our first episode, we get these thousands of views, and I thought, ‘Who are these people?’ Then I realized that these people are my friends, engineers. I’ve been blessed. I’ve learned more than anybody these past five years.”