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Former VOA Audio Engineer Holds 11 Grammy Awards - 2002-07-31

A VOA Snapshot - Part of the continuing coverage in this, VOA's 60th Anniversary Year

Ask anyone in the recording industry who the best studio engineers are, and the short list will likely include Al Schmitt.

"When I started in New York," Mr. Schmitt said, "I was a teenager."

With a career spanning more than 40 years, and 11 Grammy awards, Mr. Schmitt has engineered some of the most famous music recordings of our time, including Henry Mancini's recording of "Moon River." He also engineered a famous recording by the American group Steely Dan.

But few people know Al Schmitt began his career at VOA. "We used to do all the Voice of America programs, he said, "and we'd do the shows in Italian, Greek. Telly Savalas and his whole family did the shows. Werner Klemperer did the German shows."

Mr. Schmitt recalls producing a variety of programs for VOA. He said, "These were radio dramas and some were news programs. I think they were 15-minute or half-hour shows. It was great - all done live to transcription disk and then broadcast overseas."

Al Schmitt is still in demand for his music recording skills. He recently finished CDs with singers Diana Krall and Natalie Cole.

The engineer is a key member of any broadcast team, handling the equipment to make sure a broadcast sounds as good as possible. VOA has had many fine ones over the years, but few have gone on to achieve the fame of music mixer extraordinaire, Al Schmitt.

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