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BW grad wins Emmy Award for work on hit Netflix series 'Stranger Things'

Michael P. Clark '97 has come a long way since his days editing the swear words out of tunes he wanted to broadcast on Baldwin Wallace University's WBWC radio.

Michael P. Clark '97 and his wife, Jessica Clark, at the 74th Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

At the 74th Creative Arts Emmy Awards, Michael P. Clark '97 collected his first golden statue from the Television Academy for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series on an episode of "Stranger Things."

Clark says winning the Emmy was humbling.

"Being honored by your peers for your work, with an award that represents the highest standards, is the ultimate compliment," he says. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to represent 'Stranger Things' in this capacity. The experience was euphoric, and my heart is still vibrating high."

Clark, who earned his first Emmy nomination in 2018 for the iconic, supernatural Netflix series, is currently at work as a production sound mixer for the upcoming feature "Dashing Through the Snow" on Disney+.

Mixing music for The Sting

Clark's time as music director of WBWC The Sting radio inspired his future career path. Clark (aka "The Wolfman") is seen here in the campus studio for a 1995 feature photo that appeared in The Plain Dealer.

During his undergraduate days at BW, Clark majored in business and incubated his love for sound as music director of WBWC 88.3 The Sting.

"I was tired of not being able to play songs I felt should be on the radio station but couldn't because of swear words," he confesses.

Clark set out to beat the strict ban, noting that "most good songs" of the day included language that would be considered mild swearing by today's standards, including "hell" and "damn."

"I taught myself to edit out the curse words on the tape reel-to-reel machines and re-record these to the new MiniDisc technology that the station acquired," Clark recalls of his workaround.

"By the end of my sophomore year, I had completed most of my business major requirements. I began to recognize that I was enjoying my time in the studio editing and that perhaps I should explore sound as a career."

From melodies to movies

Clark's Emmy by a sound mixing board

Fast forward, and Clark is using sophisticated sound equipment beyond what he could have imagined back at BW.

He launched his career as a production sound mixer after adding an associate's degree in sound engineering from Full Sail to his BW bachelor's degree. Since then, he's spent more than two decades working on projects for major networks and studios, including HBO, Netflix, AMC, CW, Marvel, Peacock, CBS, VH1 and Viacom.

In addition to his Emmy-winning work on the "Stranger Things" episode "Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab," Clark did eight seasons on the AMC hit series "The Walking Dead." Overall, his work has earned seven major award nominations from the Cinema Audio Society (CAS), Association of Motion Picture Sound (AMPS) and Television Academy (Emmy).

He's worked hard for 23 years to earn trust within the industry and the confidence of producers.

"My first 'major' show was 'The Walking Dead,' and by that time, I had been mixing episodic television for ten years," Clark explains. "Most of my career had been working with Alton Brown on 'Good Eats' (Food Network), two seasons of 'Single Ladies' for VH1 and second unit work on many other television shows and films. Even with that experience, 'The Walking Dead' didn't come easy."

After interviewing, Clark was only offered second unit, episode work on "The Walking Dead," but landed the job of production sound mixer halfway through season three.

Of mics and men (and monsters)

Michael Clark (center) and his sound team on the set of "Stranger Things"

Michael Clark on the set of "Stranger Things"

While winning the Emmy for "Stranger Things" is a career highlight, Clark isn't resting on his laurels.

"My goals for the future are to keep learning, grow as a leader of my department on set and within the community, and always be performing at our highest potential," he notes.

"I am always looking to work with quality actors, directors and projects that elevate our artistic contribution to filmmaking," Clark continues.

Those include a Marlon Wayans film called "The Curse of Bridge Hollow," which Clark calls "a fun, family-friendly Halloween movie," coming soon to Netflix.

He also just wrapped a project for Peacock called "Friend of the Family" that explores the Jan Broberg kidnappings, is currently at work on a Christmas movie starring Chris Bridges (Ludacris) and Lil Rel Howery slated to premiere in 2023. And "Stranger Things 5" is slated to start shooting in spring 2023.

"Capturing dialog on set, thankfully, is always challenging and constantly changing with every project. This keeps projects and scenes new, fresh and fun to work on."

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