Video: Teenager Builds Home Studio at 19

By Justin Gelske on Oct 29, 2021 4:33:55 PM

If you follow along with our Telos Alliance blogs, you may remember our recent story of Rares Paunescu. Rares had the dream at just 11 years old of building his own home studio using Telos Alliance Axia and Omnia gear. At 19, Rares turned that dream into a reality! We wanted to get a closer look at his journey, so we reached out and sat down for a Behind the Sound interview to hear this young man's inspiring story.

You can view the Behind the Sound - Teenager Builds Home Studio at 19 interview and read a transcription of the interview below.


Rares, you have a really interesting story because you built your own home studio at just 19 years old, which is pretty unheard of! So how old were you when you decided you wanted to build your own studio and what sparked the interest?

Everything started when I was 11 and my father took me to his workplace in Bucharest. It was a national radio station broadcasting across Romania. And there I saw, for the first time in my life, an Axia Element console. You know, my mother told me once that when I do or see something for the first time in my life, I should make a wish. So, I saw that Axia Element. I started playing with it and I made my wish: to be able to earn enough money when I grow up to buy an Axia Element console all for myself. I had visited other radio studios before, so that one wasn’t the first, but that Axia Element console there caught my eyes.

Of course, I didn’t know when my dream would become a reality. But then I got to UK to start my first year at university and a lot of job opportunities appeared. I was 19 at the time and I remember one day some of my colleagues advised me to apply for a job at McDonald’s. The place was really close to our University and I did it. I was accepted and this is how I started to earn my money. No one knew how hard I was saving to build my own studio. I kept it secret. At first, I couldn’t imagine that I’d be able to buy additional gear like the Omnia.6 and Omnia.3. But when I saw I could do that, I took my dream to the next level—because buying an Omnia.6 processor was also part of my dream and Omnia.3 was very welcome in my collection.

Fun fact, Rares’ father purchased the very first Omnia broadcast processor in Romania back in the 2000s for a station called Radio DEEA. So is it fair to say that your father not only helped inspire your love for radio, but for Telos Alliance products as well?

Yes, indeed! I think I was 3 years old when I listened for the first time in my life to a broadcast processor, which was the Omnia.3, the very first Omnia in Romania. It belonged to a local radio station, Radio DEEA, here in my hometown, Onesti. Of course, at that age, I didn’t exactly realize the power of Omnia, but I definitely kept my ears and my eyes on that iconic Omnia design. That’s why I wanted so much to buy Omnia.3 for my studio, because I really wanted to have the same Omnia I had seen the first time in my life at DEEA. Then, Radio DEEA bought Omnia 6, which meant a breathtaking sound for the listeners. I’ve even got some pictures from back then, with that Omnia,6 at Radio DEEA. So, I owe a lot to my father for the opportunity, but also to Telos Alliance for the amazing products.

The first time you used an Axia Element console, can you tell us what that experience was like?

It was an awesome, unique experience, since I was only 11 years old back then. Those years, my love for radio was growing exponentially, day by day, and I asked my father to take me to visit as many radio stations as possible to see their gear and compare them and their performance. Honestly, when I first saw the Axia Element console, I was speechless, because it was the first digital console I had ever experienced and it was “love at first sight.” I really love that iconic Axia design and what it looks like. And that gunmetal grey color is my favorite color scheme for Element—that’s why I wanted so much to have my own Axia Element console in gunmetal grey. Also, I remember that I was shocked back then that I can “play next” on the automation playout directly from the console with GPIO commands. That was an unbelievable thing for me, because I’d never seen anything like that before.

Moving into your teenage years, your dream of owning an Axia console continued. How did you stay involved with radio in these years? And what actions did you take to work towards making your dream a reality?

My father changed his workplace, moved to another national radio station with headquarters in Bucharest. It is the number one radio station across Romania and they had just bought a new mixing console. And guess what…it was an Axia Element console in gunmetal grey! I was so happy that I could be part of the installation process back then! I saw how the Element console was configured and implemented on their system and, of course, my love for Axia and Telos was sky rocketing.

When I was 12 years old, I begged my dad to buy an FM license so I could have my own radio station, called “Dream FM”. I have it even today, here in my hometown on 92.2 FM. You can imagine how involved I am with radio because this radio station is like my own child. I must to do everything for it. The cool thing is that I really enjoy doing 99% of the work—meaning playlists, radio production, traffic, website, iOS App, IT issues, and even Technical issues. I am so glad that we have listeners from all across the globe, especially from the United States. You can listen to Dream FM online, especially from the “Dream FM” app from the app store.

So finally, moving into 2020, you had saved up enough money to buy the console of your dreams, the Axia Element! How exciting was that?

It was super exciting, especially because everything was secret. Absolutely no one knew that I was working somewhere and what I was going to do with the money earned. The most exciting part was when my father entered my room and saw everything. Believe me, for at least five minutes my father was completely speechless. He was just sitting on his chair, trying to make out what on the Earth was happening in my room. It was October 26, 2020. My father had just come home from Bucharest and I made the surprise to him. On that day, it was also his name-day, Saint Dumitru (an orthodox holiday), because my father’s name is Dumitru Paunescu. It was a magnificent, extraordinary, and unique moment in my life which I will never forget. I think it is the greatest achievement in my entire life.

Like my father said, not many big radio networks have this kind of gear and there it was; I had it in my room! I wanted so much to keep this moment, and I recorded it without my father knowing it. I really wanted to capture that face of my father when he entered my room. I love that video! Even my friend Frank Foti saw that video recording and he understood and appreciated that moment. He said “Wow! Your videos are wonderful! What you did to surprise your father is incredible and it further reflects your passion and dedication. Very cool! Very proud of your accomplishment with this.”

You may be asking how I managed to keep everything hidden from my father. Well, I managed to keep everything hidden from my father because every time I received a parcel with my gear, I immediately put it into my godmother’s basement. So, I kept everything there for five months until I managed to pay the last payment for my Axia console. Then, I received the pallet with my Axia gear and I installed everything in couple of days. I had already prepared almost everything for the installation. A lot of my colleagues from McDonald’s in Coventry told me that I was “crazy” saving so much money to buy some gear. But in fact, I am not crazy at all investing in my own passion. Some are saving money to buy staff like cars, vacations and the like, but I saved for investing in my passion, which is a big thing to me! So, owning the Axia Element is a huge achievement. It makes me proud, excited, and happy with what I’m doing in the radio industry.

With the Axia Element, and some other key pieces, you built your own home studio...at just 19 years old! What other key pieces of equipment are you using to run your studio?

I am using Omnia.6, Omnia.3, a Cisco switch for the Livewire network connectivity, a m!ka Mic Arm with Electro-Voice RE27N/D broadcast microphone, and a computer machine which runs the Axia IP-Audio Driver which works perfectly with Zetta. I love that I control everything I want on Zetta directly from the Element console with GPIO commands. So, that’s it! This is my magical wand!

What has your experience been like having your own studio?

It’s still a great experience—even today! I really enjoyed building and configuring everything and, you know what, it actually took me a very small amount of time to configure the Axia network, which is amazing. Like you said, not a lot of people my age are doing this kind of stuff, but I can’t help it. It’s almost addictive, so to say! It’s sheer passion and, of course, you need some skills and high-tech equipment. But it’s worth the money and the time because it is so rewarding to do what you like and to be appreciated for the good job you’re doing!

Any plans for the future?

Well you know, when you start working out of passion, it never stops. Now, I have to finish my Computer Science degree. So one more year at University and then I would like to work with a team of passionate people. Who knows, maybe one day we will be colleagues at Telos Alliance! I would be honoured to!

Interested in learning how Telos Alliance offerings can work for you? Send us a message and our team will help guide you in the right direction for your studio.

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Topics: Behind the Sound

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