When Morrisound Recording co-owner Tom Morris walked into his 30-year-old music studio on April 10, what he saw broke his heart. The rear glass door to the studio was broken, glass was everywhere, and the TV in the lobby was gone.
Even worse for Morris and his recording business, his console power supplies and computers were stolen, microphones were gone, wires were cut and burglars had stripped one of his two studios of much of its capabilities.
Six months later, Morrisound Recording is nearly back to where it was before the break-in, thanks to the help of the local music community. Within days of the incident, Morris received calls from musicians and other studios across the state offering their help. Recording studio personnel around the country emailed Morris to ask if a piece of gear they saw for sale on eBay or other vendor sites fit the description of his stolen Morrisound equipment.
"One of the things that was amazing to me in the aftermath of this was the generosity of the other studios throughout Florida who lent a hand to get us back on our feet," Morris said. "We would not have been able to do sessions for weeks, if not months, if people didn't lend us microphones, cabinets, guitar amps and other stuff. It was overwhelming to me."
Getting the studio back on its feet proved to be a challenge for Morrisound also from a public relations standpoint. Although Studio A had only a few components taken, Tom Morris and the rest of the staff had to reassure clients that they could still get the job done. Using Facebook, they were able to keep clients aware of Morrisound's status.
"That was one of the things immediately following was how to deal with all the inquiries," Morris said. "People asked what happened and how were we doing. So we tried to post updates."
The culmination of Morrisound's post-recovery PR effort is scheduled for Wednesday when the staff will open the doors for a 30th anniversary party that will double as an open house.
"We want to show people how we are doing and show them how they have helped us," Morrisound studio manager Lindsay Vitola said.
Local musician and Morrisound client Ernie Sample was among the first to work at Morrisound after the break-in. At first, Sample questioned the studio's ability to record his session, but after speaking with the Morrisound staff, he was sure they could get the job done.
"They handled my session with aplomb and professionalism," Sample said. "I was surprised they weren't more depressed than they were. They had a stiff upper lip as the British say."
For his session, Sample needed to bring his own microphones and volunteered several of them for Morrisound use after he left.
Currently, Morrisound Recording is near 95 percent of what it was prior to the break-in. Each component that was stolen is being replaced with a similar or newer model as fast as Morris can process the paperwork.
"The insurance has been a little cumbersome to work with," Morris said. "They have been paying, but the process is that we have to purchase the equipment and send them the receipt and they reimburse us.
"And when you have a half million dollars of equipment to replace, it's not something I can put on my Visa card."
Unfortunately, some of the equipment that was taken is irreplaceable. For example, Morris has yet to find a suitable replacement for his Telefunken U-47 microphones, the same model used by the Beatles in the 1960s.
To ensure nothing like this happens again, Morrisound has vastly upgraded their security system.
"We have beefed up our battery back-up systems significantly," Morris said. "We have a back-up call-out system so if the phone lines are cut it uses a cell phone system. We also changed alarm monitoring services."
While the studio works to resume its full operations, Temple Terrace Police are investigating the break-in.
Morrisound's accomplishments in the wake of a break-in that could have closed it down forever is not going unnoticed.
"A lot of people would have been devastated," Sample said. "I know I would have been. The community is lucky to have them here."