Comment of the Day: “In Search Of A Tipping Point: Trump, The Microphone, And Thomas Dewey’s Ghost”

Trump mic

Ed Moser, a sound designer, technical director and all-around theater pro (he produced and designed sound for my recent staging of “Twelve Angry Men”…he’s also a friend), enlightens us with some insider observation relevant to Donald Trump’s recent denigration of a sound tech. It also reveals an unattractive side of an earlier GOP presidential candidate. Here is Ed’s Comment of the Day on the post, In Search Of A Tipping Point: Trump, The Microphone, And Thomas Dewey’s Ghost:

I have a friend who engineered the sound for a large church back when McCain was a candidate. He visited the church for a “town meeting”.

My friend locked all the unused gear away, and for the event distributed only freshly batteried hand held wireless mics for the event with screw on caps on the bottom. Such caps are specifically designed to prevent clumsy performers from accidentally touching the controls on the bottom of the mic– where one could turn the mic off, change the battery, or worst of all, change the frequency. Then color coded the mics with bright spike tape, so that while he was at the sound board he could instantly tell which mic/channel he was dealing with.

The plan was for McCain to give a speech, then take questions from the floor. Runners would carry one of three hand helds to the person with the query, so the question could be heard throughout the house. There was a fourth back up.

If all of this sounds pretty standard for people who know what they’re doing and have done many such events before: well, it is.

That evening, during the event, the question and answer session occurs. The first mic, it develops, is dead. A quick check reveals that ALL FOUR are dead. Irked at having to come the the edge of the stage and get close to an actual person to hear an actual question, or perhaps just trying to infuse humor at an awkward moment, McCain points to the back of the house, right at my friend, and says to the crowd, “Fire that guy!”

He gets a laugh. Except from my friend, of course.

Turns out the Secret Service removed all the batteries without telling anyone. And neatly re-spiked the spike tape. Evidently, they imagined the mics could be alternatively cabled or something– the point is unclear– but my friend did get a security speech about how we can’t allow batteried items around a candidate when we don’t know what they do.

I can tell you from sad experience, such things are almost NEVER the sound guy’s fault, though they may be his responsibility. Bad sound is usually generated by sound ignorant people stepping in front of the engineering for some “better” reason. That, or Someone Decided To Hire Their Nephew.

I think it’s _bad_ at best that Tump, who relies on his management skills, doesn’t understand even that much about teamwork with technicians. …. Of course, he lost my vote long ago.

Regarding Dewey, that mustache looked pretty good on Clark Gable. Anything would right? So doubtless, we could also say that Dewey had a problem in that he wasn’t exactly Clark Gable. My personal feeling is that Trump also has this problem, indeed, I’d have said that Trump’s hair problems dwarf Dewey’s, but…

There sure seem to be a lot of people responding to Trump’s “personal magnetism” and not much more.

 

3 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “In Search Of A Tipping Point: Trump, The Microphone, And Thomas Dewey’s Ghost”

  1. McCain’s handling of the situation was pretty poor, sorry about your friend. But, let me ask this: did your friend not talk at all with the Secret Service before setting all this up? Or did the Secret Service fail to liaise with the venue? It sounds to me like someone dropped the ball here and security and tech didn’t talk when they should have. There’s no way four dead mics should have come as a surprise.

  2. The was the same Secret Service whose agents “liaised” with prostitutes in Ecuador and Colombia. There was simply no possible way the technician could have anticipated that the service would secretly remove the batteries and carefully retape them shut so that no one would notice. Nor could he possibly have anticipated that the service agents “don’t know” what four “batteried items” in the shape of a microphone at a question and answer session were.

    There are some basic elements of competence that one assumes that the agency charged with protecting our presidents (both on green paper and in person), possesses. When the agency does not, in fact, possess such competence; and the events that exposed such incompetence were still four years out, then it is simply not the sound technician’s fault.

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