Alumni Spotlight: Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith isn’t afraid to take chances when it comes to audio engineering. An IPR Alumni Brandon Smith at Rock the Garden 2018alumni of the Sound Design for Visual Media and Audio Production and Engineering programs, Smith has never shied away from an opportunity to learn from those around him. In April, Brandon began working with 89.3 The Current as a volunteer Recording Assistant. In this position, Brandon assists in audio engineering for The Current’s many in-studio recordings. The independent rock/pop station in St. Paul is the home of Minnesota Public Radio, as well as Classical MPR. Throughout his time spent at the station, Brandon has learned great lessons and built connections that have shaped his journey as a professional audio engineer.

Audio Engineering at 89.3 The Current

Brandon recounts the importance of taking new opportunities saying, “You can’t look at it as just a paycheck—it’s more than that. Even if you are given an unpaid opportunity, you have to look at the doors that it might lead to.” Being able to learn from the best in radio and working with well-known artists has provided a great incentives for his experience in audio engineering. Since volunteering at The Current, Brandon has worked with local and national artists at the Maud Moon Weyhaeuser Studio, as well as venues in the Twin Cities. Under the guidance of Technical Director Michael DeMark, Brandon has assisted in numerous sessions for the station and artists such as Death Cab for CutieFather John Misty, CHVRCHES, Lord Huron, Trampled by Turtles and Calexio, along with broadcasting legends Mary Lucia and Marc Wheat.

In addition to working in-studio gigs at the MPR studios, Brandon has also gotten to track live audio at the newly-renovated Palace Theatre and James J. Hill House in Saint Paul. Smith was also assisting at The Current’s 2018 Rock the Garden festival. Being able to work in new venues and has been a chance to learn different facets of audio engineering. Every lesson helps reinforce techniques taught in the classroom.

Although some processes were foreign to Smith, having a mentor has helped. Being taken under the wing of an experienced technical director helped him gain confidence in his audio skills. Brandon says about learning the ropes of live broadcasting, “There’s so much you can’t learn until you’re there. Always ask questions and be willing to learn everything you can.”

Creating Happy Clients in Audio Engineering

Smith credits his classes with Luke Harper and Portia Heller to reinforce his soft skills. “Creating happy clients is the key. Show up early, set up the room and input before your clients arrive. Always be proactive about their needs. Happy artists will come back.”  When asked about staying grounded Smith says, “Leave your ego at the door. You can’t assume you know everything and be aware that the artist may have preferences in recording audio. You work for the client, plain and simple.”

For more information on Brandon Smith, check out his website at