The History of the Heil PR-40

This is the story behind the Heil PR-40 Mic, and how it became one of the most talked about and recommended products in the history of Podcasting.

In 2004 through 2005 most Podcast Producers who were passionate about delivering high quality audio were using RE-20’s and SM7B’s. The MXL 990 and budget Shure handhelds were also popular due to their affordable price points. And yes, inexpensive headsets were for the most part ubiquitous. The fact is at that time it was not difficult to gauge what was out there due to the limited amount of published shows in the space.

In those days I was developing relationships with manufacturers, designing systems, writing about gear, and supplying technical support. I also produced and hosted a weekly Podcast that focused on Final Cut Pro and various aspects of Media Production. 

One of my original sources for Information was Radio Magazine. This publication catered to the professional Radio Broadcasting industry. I would often come across and write about valuable information that I felt would be of interest to Podcast Producers.

Before I continue, let me just say that I am 99.9% certain that from the inception of Podcasting (sometime in 2004?) through late 2005, the Heil PR-40 mic was nonexistent in the Podcasting space. I know this is a bold statement and I stand by it -  if someone was using the mic, I would have been aware of it. 

Here’s what happened …

In a month prior to September, 2005 - I came across an ad in Radio Magazine for the mic. If I remember correctly the tagline was ‘There’s a New Sheriff in Town.” This was a playful jab directed to the mic manufacturers that at the time held dominance. The ad also made reference to a few old-school radio personalities who were impressed with the sound of the PR-40. The mic was awarded a coveted “Cool Stuff Award” at NAB 2005, sponsored by the Las Vegas based Radio World newspaper.  

And so finally in September of that same year, I decided to call Heil Sound and ask about the mic. Within minutes I was on the phone with Bob Heil himself. I couldn’t believe it. He was very inquisitive about Podcasting. In fact he immediately realized this was a unique opportunity to broaden the exposure of his entire product line. It was during that call that he graciously agreed to send me the mic. On September 28th, 2005 - I documented the sequence of events on my popular blog. (see pic).

A few weeks later on October 9th, +Todd Cochrane posted a comment on the blog stating that he “needed to purchase two mics with a $1000 budget.” The mics would be presented at The Podcast Awards to the co-winners of (If I remember correctly) “Podcaster of the Year.” At that point I was well aware of the mic’s performance and it’s sudden surge in popularity at Radio Stations. Plus, it shipped in a Cherrywood case! Needless to say I mentioned to Todd I thought it would be a great idea to present this mic x2 to the honorees. 

The recipients of that shared award? Adam Curry and Leo LaPorte. Both guys started using the mic. Major gear distributors began to stock the Heil Product line, and Podcasters were jumping on the bandwagon. And so as they say the rest is history.

Shortly thereafter an old friend in the space with a decent following whom I believe had a personal relationship with Bob Heil also began to use and endorse the mic. And my well respected good friend Doug Kaye even swapped out his trusty RE-20 and replaced it with a PR-40. Us owners of RE-20’s quickly realized that the mic was purposely designed to fit right into the proprietary shock mount designed for the RE-20. This was a brilliant move by Bob Heil. It was an awkward match due to the length difference between the two mics, but it worked.

Let me finish up by saying I’m confident that I have in my possession the very first PR-40 mic ever associated with Podcasting. In the attached pic you can see the box is dated “Sep - -2005.” It’s in pristine condition, still in it’s original Cherrywood case. I also display the original Sheriff’s badge, given to me by Bob Heil.
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