• Recording
  • Mastering
  • Full CD / band demo production
  • Jingle and radio production
  • Media digitizing
  • Soundtracks
  • Video
  • Audio restoration

In operation since 1980, Bird-On-Fire Recording
Studio is located in West Union, Iowa—owned by Doug Koempel.

Tel. 563-422-5677

Doug in revamped, all-digital “Studio B” in 2024.

West Union, Iowa – May 22, 2024

Bird-On-Fire Recording, a premier recording studio established in 1980 by Doug Koempel and a team of dedicated volunteers—Kevin Conner, Robert Traeger Jr., Greg McGaffic and Mike Heins—celebrates over four decades of musical innovation and excellence. Since its inception as an analog 8-track recording facility, the studio has been a cornerstone for artists, choirs and commercial productions here in the Midwest.

Now in 2024, Bird-On-Fire has evolved into a completely digital audio & video production facility—recently inducted into the Midwest All-Music Association Hall of Fame. As studio operator, Doug Koempel has produced hundreds of albums, singles, university choir recordings, TV and radio commercials and film soundtracks. Notably, the studio’s primary focus has been on producing music for the Hall of Fame artists, the Memory Brothers (IRRMA Hall of Fame in 2013 and MAMA Hall of Fame in 2019.)

Bird-On-Fire Recording has also been instrumental in launching the careers of several well-known artists. Nikki Anders, Emily West, Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, Brenda Russell, Dennis Van Hove and Nora Gedgaudas all began their musical journeys with demo sessions recorded there.

2024 marks a significant milestone as Bird-On-Fire Recording celebrates the tenth anniversary of its indie label, WEEF Records. The label has released a series of Memory Brothers’ albums, beginning with 2014’s Feelin’ Alright and culminating in its latest release, Back in the Old Neighborhood in 2024.

Releases on WEEF Records are available not only as CDs but are also distributed on all major 
streaming platforms including Pandora, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify and iHeart Radio.

“Looking back over the past forty-four years, it’s scary how quickly four decades have passed by!” said Doug Koempel. “My journey with the Memory Brothers, the studio and the establishment of WEEF Records has been a highlight; and I’m immensely proud of the music the Memory Brothers have produced—as well as all the other artists we’ve supported.”

Here are some Bird-On-Fire alumni!

Emily Nemmers West (then)
Emily Nemmers West (now)
Nikki Hassman Anders

Emily West (then Emily Nemmers) of Waterloo, Iowa first recorded at Bird-On-Fire in July of 1994. After high school she moved to Nashville where she signed with Capitol Records. In 2014 she was a finalist on NBC’s America’s Got Talent ultimately placing second.

Nikki (Hassman) Anders spent many hours at  Bird-On-Fire perfecting her early demos. She went on to be a vocalist with the award-winning group Avalon and then as a solo artist with Columbia Records. She currently is a producer for the TV show Glee.

Naomi, Doug and Anne during a break in the recording of their album.
The shot used for Anne & Naomi's album cover.
Anne & Naomi's marvelous debut CD, Missing Piece.
Anne & Naomi's album was recorded at Bird-On-Fire Recording in 2003.
Dennis Van Hove
Brenda Kowalke Russell was the very first artist who recorded at Bird-On-Fire. She was only 15 at the time.
Brenda Kowalke Russell (her 2nd album)

Bird-On-Fire Recording Studio was built in 1979-80 by Robert Traeger, Jr., Doug Koempel, Kevin Conner and Greg McGaffic with considerable help from Mike Heins and Al Biermann. The first musician recorded was Brenda Kowalke. Here’s a listing of all those who’ve recorded since: click.

Nora Gedgaudas
Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster


Here in 1980, Doug is pictured at the console built by local craftsman Al Bierman of West Union, Iowa.
Larry Crandall recording (1999)
Bob Traeger, Jr. mixing Brenda Kowalke sessions (1981)
New JBL 4311B monitors (1980)
New console showing outboard processors (1980)
Doug and Kevin relaxing in the studio lounge (1982)
View of recording console (1980)
New Young Chang grand piano (1982)
Kevin Conner mixing the Time and Distance album (1983)
Doug & Kevin doing the Van Hove sessions (1986)


Here is a list of some of the bands, artists and institutions that have recorded at Bird-On-Fire Recording Studio since 1980.

Brenda K. Russell
The Memory Brothers
Stable Daze
Distorted Eyes
Aggressive Chubbies
Nora Gedgaudas
Anne & Naomi Ludvicek
Dennis Van Hove
Cheri Kothenbeutal
Crystal Axe
The Rubber Band
Nikki Hassman Anders (Avalon)
Sandy Bush
Emily West (Emily Nemmers)
Lefty Schrage
Julie Schutte
Jeff Albers
Ed Hupton
Doug Koempel
Kevin Conner
Upper Iowa University
Better Than Never
Josh Guyer
Brandon Thomas
Justin Kinkel-Schuster (Theodore)
Bruce Day
Katie Kamus
Brandi Woodson
John Rees
Dale Sorenson
Addison Haas
Bruce Baker
Jackson Junction Band
Jim Sieck

Tweeter and the Monkey Men
Kim Anderson
The Hanson Sisters
Kris Torson Alcorn
Don Traeger
Ken Netten
The New Buckaroos
Silver Memories Quartet
Regina Yarbrough
Otter Dreaming
Camerata St Charles
Stacy Paul
Tim Crane
Turkey River Band
The Screaming Goatheads
Christina Rita Jade
Oink-a-Rooti Sisters (Betsy & Julia Kieckhaefer)
Patti Cross
Country Agents
The Recorder Trio
Far Darrig
Mike Williams
Larry Crandall
Mike Flack, Sr.
Mike Flack, Jr. (8 Seconds Band)
Dave Christopherson
Christopher Jon
St. Paul Quartet
Emma Bo Bemma (Emma Kieckhaefer)
The Melon Brothers
Midlife Crisis
Dennis Halverson
Casey & the Good Timers Band
Curt & Linda Gjere
Bill Hendren
Mark Haines