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Ron Tarrant is breathing some extremely rare air.
At just 27, the radio production wunderkind from Calgary has already reached the summit of his chosen profession. On April 4, he walked into Sirius XM Radio studios in Manhattan as the new director of imaging for the Howard Stern Show—producing “audio art” for one of the best-known voices on the airwaves.
“It’s like ascending the Mount Everest of radio. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to dive into the next step of my career,” says Tarrant, a 2008 graduate of SAIT Polytechnic’s Radio, Television and Broadcast News (RTBN) program.
“It’s an interesting position to be in, at this age, when everyone else in the world wants my job. So it’s going to keep me on my toes.”
Already considered Canada’s best radio producer, and among a handful of the world’s finest at his craft, Tarrant’s star has been rising steadily over the past eight years in Airdrie, Calgary, Edmonton and most recently Toronto, where he’s been working as head sound designer for Rogers-owned CKIS-FM.
Tarrant is the first Canadian in history to work for the Howard Stern Show, which commands a daily audience of more than 24 million Sirius subscribers.
In the Big Apple, Tarrant will create and package audio highlights for two Sirius channels—the Howard 100 live show, and the Howard 101 “best-of” programming. Songwriting parodies, off-color audio clips, and other bits of Stern-signature border pushing are on the menu, and that’s right up Tarrant’s alley.
“That’s going to be the most exciting part. In commercial radio, I’ve been told time after time: ‘You can’t do that. That’s too edgy,’” he says. “There are no borders on the Howard Stern channels. These are my ideas and creations I’ve never been able to release on commercial radio before.”
Tarrant has also proven his chops as a musician. The son of local folk-country recording artist Stew Tarrant, Ron played lead guitar for Canadian rock acts Broken Ride and Mars & Venus, also earning praise for his 2014 solo album entitled Lost in Film.
It’s radio production, though, where Tarrant’s work has earned worldwide acclaim—not to mention hardware from the prestigious Radio and Production industry magazine, and a Gold Crystal Award from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.
“This is a mind-boggling accomplishment. If Ron were a culinary student, he would now be the equivalent of a three-star Michelin chef,” says Richard Stroobant, an RTBN instructor and a member of SAIT’s Board of Governors.
“Ron has always had an undeniable passion for creating ‘audio art,’ basically, whether it’s as a musician or a producer,” adds Stroobant. “He has an innate desire to get better by studying the work of people he respects, and asking them to critique his own material. And he is unfailingly humble, passing the credit to others around him.”
Tarrant has maintained his involvement with the RTBN program over the years—taking on SAIT practicum students, making guest lectures on campus, connecting with classes via Skype.
“The way my teachers invested in me, that’s something that I don’t believe you can get at any other school,” he says.
Written by Todd Kimberley (JA '92)