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Treading Water in the Freelance Pool: A Day in the Life of an A-2 on a Live Sports Broadcast (Part 1)


Depending on your perspective, the position of an A-2 (the guy/gal who helps the A-1 or the chief Audio Operator with setting up and maintaining all the audio gear on a show) is either a cool, low pressure gig, or else it’s near the bottom of the food chain in the crew pecking order of a remote TV personnel roster. Sports broadcasting is one of the last on-going forms of live TV left and in my opinion, the position of an A-2 is the best job in the gig! If you keep in mind that you are just a small cog in a wheel of madness, you’ll do well. This week, we will be posting a 5-part series of “a day in the life” featuring some useful tips to give you your own perspective to kick around. For most of the uninitiated, a day’s work in live remote TV can seem both vaguely familiar and/or otherworldly. So, let’s start the walk through a day in the life of an A-2 at a live sporting event. Read on….

CARPAE per DIEM, or Seize the Check!

Jeeez, it’s early. No matter how long I do this, it never ceases to amaze me how early on a weekend morning we need to get to work. “O-dark-thirty” just doesn’t seem natural for a debonair guy like me to suffer consciousness! Oh well, rock and roll isn’t pretty…..and neither is TV.

First off, it’s time to get coffee (but only if this is a network gig and there’s catering) and get reacquainted with your crew. Every time you show up, there are different folks to work with and familiar faces to get to know all over again. This time honored ritual is an essential part of the formula that defines the food chain that keeps our business going. The more time you’ve got in (seniority, experience, etc.), the more friends you have in far off places. And the more catching up you need to do! The prestigious gigs (network, major events, etc.) require that even more time must be factored in for this sacred ceremony. Big budget shows require a larger compliment of crew and equipment and can tolerate a fair amount of lag-time to get set up. A local broadcast might need a few hours to set up, but a full-blown network show often requires at least a whole set-day. Therefore, the better the pay, the longer the stay! Or, the bigger the broadcast (regional network or better) the more (pay) days you can count on to set up and get organized. That’s not to say that a “set-shoot-strike” (set it up, shoot the show and tear it down all in one day) may not be as sophisticated as a “big” show. And in today’s world, they are often MORE sophisticated.

If you’re a “new” guy/gal, you might use this time to look around for a unit manager type to find out your duties and to whom you need to report, or, more importantly…..who you need to schmooze to get more work. This despicable act is necessary for both the career of the new guy/gal and to easily mark him/her as such for future harassment! This razzing is a time honored and valuable part of the learning curve of the newbie and must be endured and overcome as any rite of passage in the real world. (We’ll have more on this later.) Most likely, you’ve already met the A-1 or mixer. If you don’t already know him/her or have never worked together, now would be a good time to snuggle up, because the next 12 hours of your miserable life are in his/her hands!

In Part 2, we’ll have a sarcastic look at the crew and get familiar with the different folks you’ll be working with. Then, on following parts, it’ll be on to some tips and tricks, the tools of the trade and finally a peek at the talent booth and GOING LIVE!

written by Rom Rosenblum, Clear-Com Applications Minke