What is Witchdoctor?
Witchdoctor is a website magazine.
It is NZ’s only portal for reliable and up-front reviews of and articles about technology products (hi-fi, AV, gadgets, cameras and more) and associated ephemera (CDs, DVDs).
Witchdoctor is about the technology products that you use every day: those that you watch, listen to, look through and touch. Witchdoctor is geared towards interested, normal consumers rather than that tiny minority of tech-geeks.
Of key importance is that our reviews have integrity: they are honest, and not influenced by commercial imperatives. Space will be provided for “right of reply” should product suppliers feel aggrieved by our assessments.
The Witchdoctor protagonists are Gary Steel, Gary Pearce and Ashley Kramer.
Gary Steel writes and edits. He has been subjecting the NZ public to his withering opinions on music and pop culture since 1978, where he began his journalism career at the now defunct Evening Post (now it’s called the Dominion Post). After that painful experience, Gary published and edited scabrous Wellington rags IT and T.O.M before a brief (18 month) stop-over at TVNZ “publicising” its entertainment shows. After that painful experience, he was journalist/editor, editor, then managing editor over a 6 year period for NZ’s “most popular, ever, ever” pop culture publication, RTR Countdown magazine. After that demoralising experience, Steel “retired” into his own project: a highly specialised record shop-cum-coffee-shop-cum venue, Beautiful Music. After that financially depleting experience, Steel reinvented himself as editor of NZ technology magazine Tone, where he hung on for dear life for 5 years. After that (censored) experience, Steel hankered to get back to writing, and has been enjoying freelancing for a variety of publications, including Real Groove, Sunday magazine, and Metro, where he is the music and technology writer.
Gary “Stereonerd” Steel reckons he’s reviewed roughly 15,000 albums over the past 30 years, and hopes that he won’t live to see the death of the most perfectly formed mass market listening experience. Not that he wants to die, you understand.
As a child Gary Pearce was fascinated by technology: so much so for the first ten years of his life, he genuinely believed he was a robot, eerily pre-empting James Cameron’s Terminator franchise by ahem, quite a few years. After a myriad of bloodletting incidents (falling off the roof/bike/his big brother) he figured out that he wasn’t a cyborg at all, and today finally accepts that he is human, albeit in an odd sort of way. One aspect of his life that has remained unchanged since those halcyon days?
Pearce is still absolutely nuts about technology. As you would expect, his home is a shrine to all things HT, audio and computers, and he has lost count of the number of amplifiers and speaker systems stacked up in piles around the house. His other interests include an almost fatal attraction to monstrous 1000cc sport bikes, along with a passion for music gigs and the great taste of real ale. So what’s a guy to do when he has technology in the blood? Write about it, of course, and it’s here at Witchdoctor where you’ll find GP’s musings and vexations about tech.
Ashley Kramer has been a music fan for as long as he can remember, which is all the way back to the ‘70s when he first heard Neil Young’s ‘Heart Of Gold’ playing on an old valve radio. Growing up with a set of Lowther horns in the lounge cemented a lifelong love of audio gear, which evolved into a chronic case of technology adoration. Falling into a sales role at NZ technology magazine Tone freed him from an IT career and allowed him to finally wallow neck deep in the pungent world of audio, video and general consumer technology.
Kramer prides himself on never turning down an opportunity to audition any gear (especially stereo components and cameras) and in addition to innumerable expeditions to “take a look”, a constant stream of boxes has flowed home with him over the years. Some of the contents of those boxes have moved in to stay, much to his credit card’s displeasure. Sales is still his poison, but writing about technology is his pleasure (being a thinly veiled excuse to spend more time testing and trialling increasingly exotic gear). He remains firmly convinced that vinyl records keep him young, that room acoustics are the devil’s playground and that both full frame DSLR cameras and hand built amplifiers were put on this earth to bankrupt him.
Andrew W. Baker
I grew up surrounded by music. My father was a musician, playing several stringed instruments in a pub band. I vividly remember poring over his records, taking in the smell and the wonderful covers and old band photos; all of which gave the vinyl format a sense of mystery and tactile charm I still feel today and I have spent years collecting music and attending gigs.
On being introduced to my first hi-fi system some years ago, a light went on brightly inside my head and I thought: “Yes! For years I have had this strange urge to throw lots of money I don’t really have at something – and I now know what that something is!” And the obsession began.
I live in a small town near Auckland in a house which I share with my wife and two children. I must fight, daily, with my children to get time in front of my stereo as the “listening” room is actually the “family” (read: TV) room, and because they are small and cute they invariably win. My wife can sniff out a new addition to my rack long before I’ve even considered buying it. I am still surrounded by music; my wife plays and teaches piano and plays organ at funerals and our kids are budding musicians. I’ve mostly given up being a terrible guitar player to concentrate on listening to proper musicians through proper hi-fi systems.
I will always love spinning vinyl but the future is here and it’s looking pretty interesting…
Shiny gadgets have long held a serious fascination for Pat, who ended up commenting on tech completely by accident. Stumbling into a gig as the tech guy on breakfast TV, he eventually fell into a brief stint as a technology correspondent at One News, and as a commentator on Newstalk ZB.
In for a penny, in for a pound, Pat was soon writing for the now defunct Tone and MacGuide magazines. Having discovered how punctuation works and that the spellchecker wasn’t the enemy, he was soon reviewing gadgets for the Herald and then Stuff. They say that you can’t keep a good team down, and when he heard that the guys from Tone had got back together for a reunion tour to craft up the digital deliciousness that is Witchdoctor, wild power amplifiers couldn’t keep him away. The rest as they say is history, and long may those shiny gadgets keep on coming.
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