Study Hall

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Multiple Dimensions: Inside The World Of EAW Touring Sound Head Bernie Broderick

Throughout his career, Bernie Broderick, has been driven to progress by constantly challenging himself personally and professionally: “I’ve got this whole other life besides audio. My son races motorcycles. We’re not one-dimensional, and I’ll tell you what, it’s amazing how many people I’ve done business with because of my other interests, not audio specifically. Once people figure out you’re about more than trying to sell gear, they want to do business and don’t feel like every call is going to be about numbers.”

Based in Las Vegas for the past six years, Broderick serves as business development manager – live sound for Eastern Acoustic Works (EAW), a move from his previous gig as the company’s technical training manager.

Born on Bell Island, Newfoundland, he started as a musician, specifically a guitarist/vocalist who later picked up drums, bass, and ultimately, live sound.

“At 14 years old I was doing gigs at bars where they’d let us come in and play matinees,” he says. “Music was in my DNA. Growing up, my dad would sit and bang on an acoustic guitar during holidays. He’d be hitting the strings and his fingers would start to bleed and I remember everybody singing and having the time of their lives.”

He doesn’t have a specific recollection of when he decided to play music, but his father’s gift of an electric guitar, combined with a love of early Van Halen records, helped set the course.

“My three sisters were older than me and were fawning over the Bay City Rollers,” he adds. “They did an album where the whole center spread was a photo of them standing on stage in front of Toronto City Hall in front of a sea of girls – that has an effect on a young man. It made me want to be a rock star.”

Broderick eventually worked up to touring and became recognized as a proficient guitarist – lauded for his skills in regional media – and soon started fronting his own bands. While local notoriety was nice, he wanted more, so at 18, he went to Toronto, accompanied by a suitcase and his guitar.

It was the mid-1980s and he immediately hooked up with a cover band, which determined his future personally and professionally. “The owner became my brother-in-law. His sister and I have been together 30 years, married for 22 of them.”

Following The Path

By his early 20s, Broderick had formed his own band, bought a Martin Audio PA, a Soundcraft console, some lighting and a truck to carry them in, but when he and his future wife, Mary, later started talking about marriage and kids, it was time to move on. “I was closing in on 30,” he says. “That scared me. I loved music – being a guitar player, being on stage – but it was do or die.”

In 1995, after learning that Sudbury, Ontario’s Half Nelson Systems, a production company with clients that included kd lang and Bryan Adams, was closing, he moved to Sudbury and founded B² Systems to fill the void. The company soon secured contracts with nearby educational institutions, the city, the local orchestra and several venues, and along the way added more gear, including a 100-loudspeaker Turbosound system.

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Based out of the Grand Theatre, the local soft-seater, he ran B² and acted as production manager for the theater. “I also got into doing sound for Amway, which was unique,” he adds. “People still ask, ‘So, Amway? Did you make any money?’ I reply, ‘Yeah, lots. I never sold a stick of their stuff. They paid me for production.”

B² had multiple systems and trucks, and Broderick was working Amway events in Toronto and around the U.S., but the gig was all-encompassing, leaving him no time to spend with his wife and newborn son. So again he re-evaluated, liquidating his gear and selling his talents as a mixer, taking a job at Toronto’s Band World, where he convinced the owner, Bob Spencer, to buy into then-emerging line array technology. It led to meeting Jeffrey Cox, then heading up L-Acoustics North America, who became a friend and major influence in his career.

Broderick providing training to a group of audio professionals.

Band World utilized a lot of Adamson loudspeaker systems, and in the course of “geeking out” on system design and measurement with the (then JBL) Smaart platform, he began sharing his findings with Adamson founder/chief engineer Brock Adamson. It eventually led to him joining the Port Perry, Ontario-based manufacturer, where he provided input on product development, including the Y-Axis line array, while also serving as front of house engineer for tours by Canadian artists such as The Philosopher Kings and Edwin.

With that experience under his belt, he received a call from Cox. “I spent four days at the L-Acoustics shop in Oxnard, CA, and by the time I left, I had a new job as the V-DOSC line array instructor for North America,” he says. “I also had the opportunity to work with (L-Acoustics founder) Christian Heil, so between him and Brock (Adamson), I got some heavy tutelage as my career developed.”

Over the next six years, Cox and Broderick worked to bring the line array to the mainstream of the pro audio world in North America: “One of my personal creeds is to never try to teach someone something that doesn’t make sense to me first. If I can’t wrap my head around it, how can I teach it to someone else? I remember developing these crazy little images and animations that allowed me to take the rather complex curriculum provided to me by L-Acoustics and distill it down to a point where just about anyone in the room could learn something, no matter their skill level.”

Cox eventually departed L-Acoustics, followed by Broderick, who soon received another call from someone in pro audio, this time Ken Berger, the founder of EAW. “It’s funny,” Broderick observes. “Sometimes it seems people have you on a watch list; if they like your work or if there’s a shakeup with a company – even if it doesn’t involve you – the phone rings.”

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