Mentor Floyd Toole with his amazing 1970s sideburns
My first few days on the job as an audio journalist all those years ago seemed like winning the lottery. In earlier jobs, I had always been the guy people came to to waste time talking about hi-f. Now, here I was in extensive discussions about sound equipment, and from time to time I was hit with pangs of guilt as I chatted about the minutiae of some piece of audio gear, when was caught suddenly by the realization that that was what I was supposed to be doing.
In my very first issue, the editor let me loose on what was the mag's first review of a Dolby cassette deck -- a fairly exotic component at the time. In subsequent years, I have been repeatedly astonished that my old editor trusted me with such a mission at a time when I could hardly find the office restrooms, but as I recall, he kept a pretty tight rein over what I wrote.
But, although I felt I was a very knowledgable audiophile before I took the post, I soon came to the realization that my understanding of the field was embarrassingly shallow. I wasn't untypical in that, but to be an editor on a magazine devoted to the subject presupposes that one have something more to offer than a mixture of audio prejudices picked up around the office water cooler or from (all-too-common) ill-informed audio salespersons.
Fortunately, I soon came under the technical guidance of a colleague who would now probably be called a mentor, but at the time was simply one of the magazine's contributing editors (that is, a freelancer who writes regularly for the publication and can offer ideas and advice without the full-time staff getting bent out of shape) and a friend. He also had a wealth of education in audio and scientific things in general, where most of my knowledge was mostly picked up by osmosis. The fact that he also had a fine taste in old rock 'n' roll and old scotch cemented the relationship.
That was the redoubtable Dr. Floyd Toole. We'll get back to him shortly.
- Ian G. Masters