2016 SAIT Outstanding Young Alumnus
If there's one word to describe award-winning radio producer Ron Tarrant, it's "humble." If there are two, they are "go-getter."
In fact, one of Tarrant's earliest memories from his time in SAIT's Radio, Television and Broadcast News program is his Audio Production instructor Richard Stroobant's opening speech. Stroobant asked the class, "How badly do you want this career?" It was a question that resonates with Tarrant even today. "I was always taught that if you want something, you have to get up off your rear and make it happen," he says.
And remembering this lesson has since paid off for Tarrant — he is regarded as one of the best radio producers in the industry, and has won four international Radio and Production Awards and two awards at The Crystals, which recognize the best in Canadian radio creative.
Now working in New York City as the head imaging and sound designer for the Howard Stern Show — "the HBO of radio," Tarrant says — he writes scripts, produces bits, and creates sound design for a show that boasts an audience of 30 million subscribers.
Though he feels he's under the most pressure he's ever dealt with, the "pay-off" for Tarrant's hard work is having the opportunity to work with the legendary Stern himself.
"For us Canadians, imagine going into work every day with Sidney Crosby, Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. You're surrounded by the best professionals in the world," Tarrant says. "Some people would do anything to be in a room with Howard. At the end of the day, I'm an extremely lucky guy from Calgary."
What is your proudest professional moment to date?
"I've been extremely humbled on a few occasions, but two moments that stand out are winning my first Gold Crystals Award [in 2014] at Canadian Music Week in Toronto surrounded by a few of my production idols, and getting the call to secretly head to New York City to try out and interview for the biggest radio production job in the world — imaging and sound designing for Howard Stern."
How has your SAIT education impacted your career?
"SAIT prepared me for real industry expectations. Radio can be a gruelling career, with low starting pay, relocations and a ton of hard work to get noticed above the rest. The two-year program at SAIT was intense but it inspired me to go above and beyond, and to really want to be the best."
What's your advice for beginning students in your field?
"I cannot stress enough how important it is to pick up an instrument and really understand how music works. It's the most important part of being a producer because it's crucial to be able to translate what you hear in your head into actually creating the audio. Also, network, network and network some more!"
Written by Giselle Wedemire (JA '13)
Photo by Eric Jukelvics