PWS' Super Bowl team, from left: Jim Van Winkle, Jason Eskew, John Garrido and Brooks Schroeder.
On February 3, 2013, Professional Wireless Systems (PWS) was on location in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for Super Bowl XLVII to provide frequency coordination and RF management for referee microphones, as well as pregame and halftime entertainment. For the company’s 17th consecutive Super Bowl, PWS once again partnered with ATK Audiotek and Versacom. PWS is a Masque Sound Company with expertise in supplying and supporting wireless systems for live and broadcast events.
“When faced with the clutter of several hundred frequencies in use, it is our job to stay on top of it and be ready with backup frequencies and equipment,” says PWS project manager Jason Eskew. “This year’s Super Bowl was bigger than ever and the crew at PWS once again did an incredible job making sure that the pregame festivities—including the National Anthem [and] 'America the Beautiful'—and the incredible halftime show featuring Beyoncé, went off without any fumbles, even with the power outage. Thanks to our uninterruptible power supply [UPS], we were able to maintain power for the referee mics, which was still important at that time even though play was halted, until the rest of the power was restored within the Superdome.”
Eskew and his team began their work almost five months prior to the game. “I did a site survey at the Superdome in October and submitted our frequencies in November for approval,” says Eskew. “When doing so, I had to be sure to pick equipment that covers multiple manufacturers’ frequency ranges. Each performer has his or her equipment of choice, along with endorsement deals that require us to use a specific wireless system, so we needed to be able to easily adapt to this, along with any changes the scheduled performers might make on site.”
This year, Grammy Award-winning recording artist Jennifer Hudson was a late addition to the lineup, joining 26 students from Sandy Hook Elementary School in singing "America the Beautiful" during the Super Bowl XLVII pregame show. “Thanks to the flexible plan I designed and the excellent bench skills of John Garrido, the team was able to accommodate her needs without any problems,” says Eskew. “The people over at Shure and Sennheiser once again did a good job providing the gear that supports the performers.”
In order to provide an interference-free show and ensure all wireless activities went off as planned, PWS used the Shure Axient Wireless, UHF-Rs and PSM-1000 series IEMs. In addition, the team employed 3,732 receivers with 5,200 transmitters, as well as a range of wireless gear from Sennheiser. In the bodypack diversity mode, the Axient system was able to provide automatic fail-over protection for the referees’ microphones. Versacom provided a mixture of wireless intercoms, including HME PRO850 and BTR800s from Telex, for the event.
PWS Helical Antennas
The PWS team used a combination of Domed Helical Antennas and original PWS Helical Antennas for all of the ATK wireless systems on the field. A new standard in wireless antenna performance and physical presence, the Domed Helical Antenna combines the circular polarization configuration pioneered by the company’s original Helical, but with the unit sealed within a unique new compact “domed” design. This is designed for optimum connectivity between multichannel wireless microphone, in-ear and intercom wireless systems. PWS’ Domed Helical is constructed from rugged polycarbonate to hold up to considerable abuse on the road.
In addition, PWS’ expert crew of Eskew, John Garrido and Brooks Schroeder were on-site to keep the high volume of RF signal usage in check and to ensure frequencies maintained solid signals. They were also available to troubleshoot any potential issues.