Ken McGee, learning space specialist in the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) at Brookdale Community College started getting into the holiday spirit a little early this year when on December 3 he worked as a recording system technician and second engineer for a live recording celebrating the release of Norah Jones’ Christmas album, I Dream of Christmas.

The event was filmed on the Observation Deck of the Empire State Building during the evening of December 3 and was streamed on her YouTube channel on December 9. “Engineer Steve Remote recorded the performance, shot during the evening to get the sun setting in the sky and the city lights in the background. Then, when they livestreamed the event on December 9, it was at the same time in the evening,” McGee explained. The culmination was a 20-minute set of holiday music featuring Norah Jones and her band which you can find here.

“Norah exudes a calm and a warmth that is comforting, and her crew was great to work with,” McGee said of the experience. “Her set was great,” he said of the performance. “I can’t get enough of listening to this particular version of ‘Christmas Calling.’ I’ve listened to at least three different version of the song now. Out of all the ones I have heard so far, the one we captured I like the best. The way that it sounds and feels is perfect,” said McGee.

Picture of sound engineers.
Ken McGee and his colleagues working at the Newport Folk Festival earlier this year.

“I build the systems that allow us to capture multi-track audio,” explained McGee about his recording work. He works for Aura-Sonic Ltd, a company that has been specializing in remote production and recording for over 45 years. “I am privileged to work for a company with such a breadth and depth of experience doing this kind of work and can bring my skills to the table to further those goals,” he said. For the Norah Jones recording, there were 24 individual audio tracks that McGee had to monitor and capture to hand off for post-production of the livestream video. “Of course, it is work,” McGee said of capturing the audio for Norah Jones, “but it is fun!”

Picture of Ken in the ATEC studio.
Ken McGee in the ATEC studio when it was first completed.

McGee has been interested in music and audio since he was a child. “I’ve always been interested in audio from a young age, tinkering with stereos, learning to DJ during the infancy of the Hip-Hop genre,” said McGee. “At some point, I decided that I wanted to make the records rather than just play them.” McGee enrolled at Brookdale in the AAS program for audio production to make his passion a reality. After graduating from Brookdale, he continued his education at the Center for Media Arts in New York City. “After finishing that program in 1986, I got a part-time position at Brookdale’s Audio Production Services, which went full-time in 1987,” McGee explained.

“When I first started working at Brookdale, I was working for my mentor, 43-year Brookdale veteran Bart Coma, who I interned under while a Brookdale student,” said McGee. “During that 25-plus year period, I had a key role in designing and installing the studio in the basement of ATEC, had a number of student interns who have since gone on to their own successes in the professional audio industry, and also had a successful partnership with High Tech High School, providing mentorships to students who were interested in audio production, among many other projects.” His other projects include an over 35-year career in audio production, engineering, and system design. He has his own company, Mastermix Audio Media, LLC., with an enormous resume of music, entertainment, radio, television, corporations, and clubs he has worked with.

McGee worked in Audio Production Services for Brookdale until 2014 when he started his current position in the TLC.