A mid-week, late-afternoon concert event in New York City’s Times Square that kicked off the NFL’s 83rd season had RF guru Kevin Sanford of Wireless First reaching for his Sennheiser equipment.
“I wanted to make sure I used all Sennheiser stuff to give me that 50 milliwatts,” said Sanford. Wireless First supplied two dozen Sennheiser wireless handheld and lavalier microphones, as well as wireless in-ear monitoring (IEM) and intercom systems, to the nationally televised NFL Kickoff Live from Times Square show. The event featured headliners Bon Jovi, plus Enrique Iglesias, Eve, Alicia Keys and the cast of Rent with Joey Fatone (‘N Sync); portions of the three-and-a-half-hour event, which attracted an estimated crowd of 500,000 to Times Square, were televised live or tape-delayed on VH-1, MTV, CBS and ESPN. The show culminated in a “Countdown to Kickoff” of the season’s first game at Meadowland Giants Stadium (New Jersey), where Bon Jovi also played at halftime.
“The stage in Times Square was on the island where Seventh and Broadway meet,” Sanford explained, “so we were smack-dab in the middle of everything. My frequency list for just what exists in that area was nine pages long. You’ve got Broadway shows like 42nd Street, Lion King and Thoroughly Modern Millie; then there’s CBS, ABC, MTV, ESPN and WWF, all with wireless stuff that was going to be cooking, because this was mid-week. It’s a big parabolic dish in there – you’re totally enclosed by big, tall buildings, all of them full of RF and electronics.”
Coordinating 32 channels of wireless microphones and providing uninterrupted coverage of the artists and presenters, Sanford “used Sennheiser mics for my portion,” he said. Allhandheld mics comprised Sennheiser SKM 5000 transmitters and ME 5005 capsules with SK 50s on MKE 2 lavaliers. Out of the 32, the other eight were mics that some artists brought with them. Presenters for the special NFL event included host Dion Sanders, plus Phil Simms, Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason all using Sennheiser wireless systems.
“The one thing I had no control over was the ENG camera crews,” continued Sanford. “Every five minutes I changed frequencies. My main concern was not with handhelds, but the lavaliers for the Rent cast — They’re much more susceptible to interference. With handhelds, the antenna is out there, and the antenna at the transmitter is always looking right at the receiver antenna. Even though they were only 50 feet away, even handhelds were dancing pretty heavy on the meters.”
Sanford also coordinated the wireless in-ear monitoring systems for the artists and presenters, as well as the wireless production intercom. In addition to the mic and monitoring rigs, he said, “I had 10 RF PL systems, so that’s 70 drops of wireless intercom to make work. Because I was doing production elements that weren’t necessarily onstage, their home base wasacross the street on a remote scaffold, where the hosts would stand and ‘throw’ to the stage. I was a busy boy!”
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