We don’t often talk about our own here at Mix. In many ways, we consider our journalistic intent to be much the same as the producers and engineers we cover: We stay in the background and get the story, letting the subject and the project take center stage. But this month, we would like to make an exception because our Los Angeles editor, Maureen Droney, is moving on to become head of the Producers & Engineers Wing of the Recording Academy. We will sorely miss her insight, her knowledge, her humor and her talents. But our loss is the industry’s gain, and in the months and years to come, perhaps even more people will recognize the talents and charms that have made Maureen such an integral part of the Mix team.
It’s all a little hazy up here on whether we initially approached Maureen or she approached us. But in March 1994, she began her first “L.A. Grapevine” column with the simple statement, “My name is Maureen Droney, and I’ll be writing the ‘L.A. Grapevine’ from my home in Woodland Hills.” Straight, succinct and to the point. She then described a fire threat at SSL’s holiday party, covered the inaugural meeting of an L.A. chapter of SPARS, talked about the need to diversify by showcasing Studio 56 and Ground Control, and broached the coming format war in film sound between DTS, Dolby and SDDS. A lot to cover, and Maureen made it all make sense.
During the next 11-plus years, Maureen’s writing developed and her sense of story and context turned her into one of the finest columnists in audio. So we started to use her on more and more stories, from live sound pieces to film sound features. Perhaps her finest work came from a question and answer series that she proposed and named “Mix Masters.” The idea was to bring an engineer’s take on engineering, and with credits including Santana, En Vogue, George Benson and many others, Maureen was a natural interviewer. I, for one, was always jealous of her ability to ask the precise follow-up question, as if she were one step ahead of her subject. Those engineers she interviewed are the crème de la crème of modern recording. You can find many of those pieces today in her book, Mix Masters: Platinum Engineers Reveal Their Secrets for Success, from Berklee Press.
Whether managing a studio, writing on deadline or dealing with angry egos, Maureen has that rare sense of calm and charm that the best engineers and producers exhibit. She treats all subjects equally, whether the multi-Platinum producer, the chief engineer in the machine room or the runner bringing in coffee. Whenever I needed a quick b.s. meter, or an alternate take on a story or quote, I called Maureen.
But we’ve come to praise Maureen, not to bury her. She has been a longtime friend of the Mix family, to the point that this editor much prefers to stay in her and Ken’s “Tom Kenny Memorial Guest Room” rather than a Sunset Strip hotel. No doubt our relationship with her will continue through her work with NARAS, and no doubt we and the industry will benefit from the talents she brings to her new position.
All the best, Maureen, from your friends at Mix! It may be a new number, but you’re still in our speed-dial.