KD: Do you work other shows as well?
MH: Yes, I’ve done many industrials including Banana Republic, Apple, Google, and Charles Schwab, but I have steadily moved away from that highly competitive world over the last few years.
KD: What are the challenges you routinely face with this show?
MH: The first is that I need to provide three mixes at a time – house, monitors and the critically important air mix. This show doesn’t have the budget to provide separate mix positions, let alone an OB truck in the parking lot, so it all falls to me.
If something goes awry, it’s my responsibility, even if it’s the fault of an intern who’s helping me, or a house sound operator in a particular venue. You might call this a “self-equalizing” course of action.
KD: You work with interns. Is this a normal part of the weekly process?
MH: By all means. Part of my mission is to teach interns to run sound. Over the past few years, I’ve trained at least 10 regulars, some of whom have gone on to tour with major acts.
Second, I always load-in the morning of the show, and my assistants are volunteers or interns. Some have knowledge of how to mic a stage and run cables, while others do not. I rarely know what to expect. Third, this is a not-for-profit company, so I’ve got to be exceptionally careful about how money is spent on audio equipment.
As a broadcaster, we must always provide a clean, clear signal, and we strive to ensure that the tonality is of exceptional quality. To help keep costs down, I prowl eBay and even pawn shops. Recently, I found a large-diaphragm RØDE condenser mic at a pawn shop for pennies on the dollar, which I immediately grabbed and added to my mic kit. It’s perfect for certain vocal styles, as well as numerous instruments.
KD: Do you carry PA?
MH: Often I‘ll use the house PA, depending on the venue, while other times I provide a PA of my own design. The biggest trick is getting all three mixes to work for all performers during the two hour show. Never, never can I let the house PA or the monitors show the slightest hint of feedback while the show is on-the-air.
KD: Would you rather be touring and mixing national or international acts?
MH: Not in the least! In the past I’ve toured as both a musician and as a sound engineer, and while large-scale events have a certain draw, I’m very happy with what I do at present. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t get back on a tour bus if the right circumstances presented themselves, particularly as a performer, but this small, steady Saturday gig provides a sense of satisfaction that I’ve rarely encountered elsewhere.