Scott Brick Presents: 20 Years - Where Does the Time Go?


My life changed twenty years ago today.  Yes, I know that sounds like hyperbole, but I’m not exaggerating in the slightest: the life I lived twenty years ago and the one I enjoy now are as different as night and day, because on June 10th, 1999, I recorded my very first audiobook, and met the man most responsible for my career.

My buddy Bob Westal had labored long and hard trying to convince the casting director/executive producer where he worked at Dove Audio to give his buddy Scott a chance, and said exec Stefan Rudnicki reluctantly came to realize that there would be no peace at work until he caved and brought me in.  And so, in the late weeks of May 1999, I trekked into Beverly Hills to the Dove offices and auditioned.  Though I was nervous, I had the feeling things had gone well when Stefan told me he was planning on giving me two short stories to narrate in the coming weeks.  

I was over the moon with joy.  I grew up a massive fan of Old Time Radio, I revered the spoken word, so getting an opportunity to record works of literature for posterity thrilled me in a way I can’t describe.  And so, I arrived at Dove Audio in the late morning hours of June 10th, 1999, nervous beyond description.  (How do I know the date?  I always save pocket calendars for tax purposes, and as my 10-year anniversary approached, I dug out 1999’s calendar and looked it up.)  

I began with UNODIR by Martin H. Greenberg, part of the short story collection First to Fight.  A submarine tale, it called for a great deal of characters of indeterminate origin, education or socioeconomic background, all the things narrators look for when reading aloud, so I was left to rely only on instinct and guesswork as to how to proceed.  And I’ll admit, I was terrified!  I asked my director, Gabrielle DeCuir, if there was a standard practice I was supposed to follow in terms of character voices or how subtle or how dramatic to play things, and she said it was entirely up to me and that I should do what I was comfortable with.  And so, I did.  I have little memory of the story itself, but I do recall quite clearly thinking, ‘Well, this is fun, but they may send my ass home!’  But it felt right, so I trusted myself and continued.

And here we get to the heart of the story.  Gabrielle asked me if I’d like a break between stories.  I didn’t really need one but given the fact it had taken nearly two hours to record the first short story, I thought it might be a good idea.  And I thank God to this day that I listened to my instincts that afternoon.

While making a cell phone call in the parking lot, Dan Musselman, Dove’s VP of Technical Operations walked up to me.  Turns out he was leaving to go work for a company called Books on Tape and build them a new studio in Los Angeles, and he’d heard me in the booth.  “Hey, I’m Dan,” he said.  “I’m cutting out of here, I’m going to work for Books on Tape, we’re going to build some studios, we’re going to make some great stuff.  Come join us.”  And I said, “Sure, my name’s Scott.”  

I finished my day in the studio with a crime tale by Jim Thompson, author of The Grifters.  (Sadly, its title escapes me.  Hopefully I’ll run across the copy I have – on cassette – one day, but as of now, it’s a mystery.)  I stopped by Stefan’s desk before heading home, and there he told me he was going to start looking around for a book to give me.  A whole book this time, my very first!  I recall clearly my walk to the car, realizing that no matter how things went that day, I’d able to say I’d recorded an audiobook, a life goal for me, and nobody would be able to take away that achievement.  Anything beyond that would be icing on the cake.

Well, it’s been twenty years, and there’s been a great deal of cake since then.  Even before BOT’s studio was finished, Dan Musselman hired me to record a book, at Dove Audio of all places!  He rented their studio on a day it was free, and together we recorded my very first unabridged book, Crazy Horse by Larry McMurtry.  After that, I am blessed to say Dan made me his go-to guy.  When a new Nelson DeMille book landed on his desk, Dan gave it to me [The Lion's Game]; when a new installment in the Dune saga came to his attention, knowing my love for science fiction Dan assigned it to me [Dune: The Butlerian Jihad]; and when Ron Chernow wrote his mammoth biography of Alexander Hamilton that would one day serve as the source material for the Broadway phenomenon, Dan gave me that as well [Alexander Hamilton].  Of the nearly 950 titles I’ve recorded in my career, more than half of them have come as a result of the man I met at Dove Audio twenty years ago today.  I can say unequivocally that I would not have a career were it not for him.  And the same is true for dozens of narrators in the industry that Dan gave an opportunity to—he found all of us, and we’ll never be able to say thank you.

Fast forward many years to January of 2011.  While working in the garage, I came across two massive cardboard boxes that weighed nearly 100 pounds each, filled as they were with back issues of a magazine I wrote for years ago.  I’d intended looking through them for articles I’d written, but after so many years I didn’t care much about it anymore and nearly threw both boxes in the recycling.  But I’m too uptight for that, so I sat down and spent the next ninety minutes going through each issue, every damn one of ‘em.  Finally, when I was only an inch from the bottom of the second box, and their contents had filled my recycling bin and stained my fingers black with newsprint, I saw the only item in either box that wasn’t a magazine: a business card with a home phone number scrawled on it.

In a single glance I realized two things: one, I knew that phone number, and I knew that handwriting.  When I reached down and looked more closely, I gasped loudly and my hand started shaking, badly.  One of my closest friends was helping me that day and, seeing my startled, almost alarmed reaction, she asked, “What is it, what is it?”  I turned it so she could read the name printed on it—Dan Musselman, VP Technical Operations—and told her, “It’s my career.”

I will never be able to express how grateful I am to have met Dan that day, and for all the blessings that have come into my life from that day to this.  Years ago, while being interviewed on the Audio Publishers Association Webcast Live on the first episode of what came to be known as Origin Stories, I recounted the tale of meeting Dan that day, and at the end of it I said what I’ve been saying for years: that I am stunned my very first day in the industry was on Dan Musselman’s last day at Dove, because I wonder constantly what would’ve happened if I’d been scheduled a few days later for those short stories?  What would my life have been like had our paths not crossed that day?  Unbeknownst to me, as a surprise, one of the show’s hosts, Suzanne Freeman, reached out to Dan to record a few words for the occasion, and I listened as Dan said, “Now I know Scott has told this story lots of times, but Scott, I needed you as much as you needed me.  In fact, if we hadn’t met that day, I’d have found you.”  I wept like a baby on the show that night.  I treasure that recording and am so thankful for that gift from Suzanne.  [CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO DAN MUSSELMAN’S VERSION OF THE STORY]

Looking back now with two decades’ perspective, I am grateful to each and every author whose work I’ve been blessed to record; I am deeply thankful for the faith each casting person has shown by trusting me with those authors’ books; I am hugely grateful for all the producers, directors, engineers and editors who’ve shared so much of their time and expertise with me; I thank everyone who’s ever listened to an audiobook I narrated, because it’s you who ensure I get to do this; I am eternally indebted to Stefan Rudnicki for suggesting Dan Musselman listen to the new guy in Dove’s studio that day long ago; and I will never be able to adequately thank Dan for that card he gave me twenty years ago today.  Though it was lost for a decade, it sits framed in my living room at this moment, a constant reminder of all the blessings it—and Dan—have brought into my life.

I've posted a few photos of my audiobook journey with Dan below along with a link to check out AudioFile Magazine's recent interview with me during their Behind the Mic podcast.

And, continuing on the subject of gratitude, I have several blog posts planned for the coming weeks, all of them based on the central theme of gifts that came about because of one narrator’s generosity to me—gifts in the form of two extraordinary authors and the series they write—and I hope you’ll check back for them.  Until then, I remain faithfully yours, and I thank you for listening.  Whether you’ve been listening for twenty days or twenty years, from the bottom of my heart: thank you.

Scott Brick

The Lion's Game

The Lion's Game

  • By Nelson DeMille
  • Read By Scott Brick
  • Length 24 hrs and 49 mins
  • Release Date: 02-22-2000
Dune: The Butlerian Jihad

Dune: The Butlerian Jihad

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

  • By Ron Chernow
  • Read By Scott Brick
  • Length 36 hrs and 2 mins
  • Release Date: 01-19-2005

Listen to AudioFile's Podcast witih Scott


Audiobook production can be tough, but Scott and Dan always seem to enjoy themselves

Scott and Dan Musselman win their first Audie Award, for Dune: The Butlerian Jihad (2003)

Dan directs Scott when Random House debuts their new studios in 2004

Scott surprises Dan with the business card he'd lost over a decade previously

Dan Zitt and Dan Musselman with Scott Brick at the 2018 Audie Awards

Who else but Dan Musselman should be on hand when Scott receives his Golden Voice award from AudioFile Magazine


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