How It All Began

James Bernard, REI Founder and Director

James Bernard, REI Founder and Director

How, When & Where? Well, way back in 1969, in the small town of Hillsdale New Jersey, there was a four track production studio in the basement of a group of stores that was up for sale. The price? Just take over the rent was all they asked. Getting wind of this fantastic deal (an understatement) through my contacts, I trucked out to Jersey to take a look. The rooms were setup with no equipment – hence, the price – except for a four bus, (wired for mono only) Gates Vacuum Tube Radio Production Desk!

To shorten the story, I decided to take a chance and brought in my Scully Recorders, mics, effects, etc. and opened the Sound Factory Four Track Recording Studio of Hillsdale. Mind you, I still was a partner in a NYC studio known as Avantage Studios, so this Hillsdale venture was just something for the weekends. Well, within three months I realized why the studio was up for grabs … cows, horses and pigs don’t do a great deal of recording. Now what?

Sitting at my new studio watching the farm animals do their thing, I reflected on what else I used to do for fun before engineering. I was a music teacher (drums and vibes) and always enjoyed teaching. Back in the 60s, getting qualified staff engineers was very difficult. So, I thought, why not teach engineering in my new production studio. In June of 1969, I went for the $7 and put an ad for my audio school in the Village Voice. I managed to scare up a class of five students. The entire audio school and production studio course tuition was $250 and lo and behold, the birth of the first Audio Engineering School in the USA!

Today, I have my audio school and production studio in Long Island, New York under the name Recording Engineers Institute (est. 1973). Though we still keep the classes relatively small, the tuition has risen just a little. My audio school is well equipped; the production studio courses are very comprehensive and we are fortunate to have some very capable and dedicated engineers and managerial staff eager to assist you in the pursuit of an exciting career in the Long Island Audio Business.

P.S. I traded the Gates Vacuum Tube board for two Yankee Baseball Tickets. They won!


James J. Bernard Sr.
President – Recording Engineer Institute (REI)