Tom Furey working at Heinz Hall

WOUB Radio Production Student Now Live Sound Engineer at Heinz Hall

Posted on:

< < Back to

Tom Furey says WOUB experience helped him get the job

ATHENS, OH – When Heinz Hall Live Sound Engineer Tom Furey started at Ohio University in the mid-1980s, he was a self-proclaimed “hooligan from Toledo’s south end” who knew from working in high school as an intern at WIOT that music, radio and entertainment is what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. His first week in Athens found him working at ACRN as a disc jockey and production engineer. However, by the end of that year, Furey started working at WOUB where he worked for the next three years as an operations engineer, disc jockey and program director of The Nightshift.

“At one point, I was WOUB program director for The Nightshift on the AM station as well as host of The Gold Rush with my roommate Jason Croxall on Saturday afternoons,” said Furey. “I worked on classical music recordings, as well as bluegrass recordings with WOUB professional staff members, Jeff Spalding and Rusty Smith. I was an engineer on remotes working Ohio University hockey games and traveling all around Southeast Ohio covering Athens High School basketball and football games. In the afternoons, I would engineer John Ray’s Afternoon Edition program. WOUB was a great opportunity for a work hungry young lad who didn’t know how to say no, and it was an amazing launch pad.”

This never say no attitude led to an Internship during Furey’s senior year at ARDENT studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Needing a ride back to Athens at the end of his internship, Furey finagled free studio time at ARDENT for The Snapdragons to come down and record some demos. Those demo recordings led to a record deal with Atlantic Records.

Furey with a group of musicians at ARDENT studios
Photo above left to right: Musician Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tom Furey, Record Producer Nile Rodgers and Guitarist Jimmie Vaughan at ARDENT Studios in 1990

After graduating with a degree in telecommunications in 1990, Furey moved to Memphis and worked at several recording studios serving as a house recording engineer. He got to work with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Walsh, Eric Gales Band and Johnny Diesel and the Injectors. One day Twisted Sister’s Dee Snyder called and asked if he wanted to tour with his new group Widowmaker. This led to a chance to make the move to New York City.

In 1994, Furey moved to NYC where he served as house sound engineer at Irving Plaza, CBGB’s, The Academy, Roseland Ballroom, Continental, Coney Island High, The Beacon and BB King’s Club in Times Square. He also worked as a tour manager for several musicians and bands including Fountains of Wayne, Ivy, Tal Bachman, Crazy Town, Rufus Wainwright and Chris Stills.

“I was tremendously busy, but it was a great time,” said Furey. “I got to meet so many fantastic musicians, work with so many talented people, and see the world all at the same time.”

After Sept 11, Furey moved to Lititz, PA to work at the well-known sound company Clair Brothers. It was while touring with Ozzy Osbourne and Clair Brothers that he met his future wife and decided to move to Pittsburgh. More tours followed working as a tour manager and sound engineer for Type O Negative, Todd Rundgren, HIM, Turisas and Apocalyptica.

In 2012, Furey applied for an opening at Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts. Heinz Hall is owned and operated by Pittsburgh Symphony, Inc. and is the year-round home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. It is also the cornerstone of the Cultural District of Pittsburgh and hosts many events that do not feature its world-renowned orchestra. When Furey was interviewing, they asked if he had any experience with classical music, and he told them about the work he did with Apocalyptica and more importantly, WOUB. Even though it had been the better part of 25 years since working at WOUB, the classical music and recording skills he acquired at WOUB helped him secure a job as the hall’s Live Sound Engineer.

Furey in the WOUB FM studio
Furey when he was a student at WOUB in 1989

“I don’t think I would have gotten the job had I not had the experience in classical music from my time at WOUB,” said Furey. “At Ohio University and WOUB, I never said no to anything. That mantra carried on to my post-Athens life, taking me all around the world with a various assortment of bands. Any experience is a good experience. Even if you don’t use it right away you might use it down the road. At WOUB, I recorded classical music and chamber quartets, 25 years later this amazing position came open at Heinz Hall, and I had the experience I needed to get the job of a lifetime.”

Furey hopes students today understand the opportunity that is in front of them at WOUB.

“While at Ohio University, you have to hustle and get as many experiences as possible and remember whatever you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. Take advantage of everything WOUB has to offer,” said Furey. “Going out and doing remotes with Director of Radio Rusty Smith and working on radio programs like Live from Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peace Ranch and Showdown on Sunday afternoons are amazing opportunities to work with the professional staff who have great knowledge to pass along to you. Even if you get the degree, you need to have the experience to back it up and land that first gig. WOUB is a great place to do that. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the training, knowledge and experience I acquired at WOUB. For that I would like to say thank you.”