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Rolling With The Changes: The Busy Life & Times Of Audio/RF Technician Gary Trenda

Catching up on the career and outlook of a busy professional working high-profile events like the Super Bowl to gigs that can be less demanding.
Gary Trenda and some of his kit on the field prior to a recent Super Bowl.

He also interned at a metal fabrication shop, with tool and die makers, and then worked at a plastic injection mold tooling facility – developing skills that, in tandem with what he’d learned in school, provided him with “a strong core knowledge of math and science.” That’s contributed substantially to his becoming one of the go-to wireless frequency coordinators in the business. “Having a good technical base is important, which has always really helped, but particularly now when I do training classes,” he says.

For the bulk of his career, Wisconsin has been Trenda’s home base with the exception of three years in Las Vegas, beginning in 2003, where he served as audio RF technician for Cirque du Soleil’s “KÀ” production at the MGM Grand. It proved to be a position that set the hook for his specialization in wireless audio.

“It was a bit like running away to run to join the circus,” he admits. “When I got to the MGM Grand Theatre, there was, quite literally, dirt on the floor. It was gutted and being rebuilt for ‘KÀ’. I was fascinated by the artistic and entertainment aspect of it, but also the technology – the hydraulic systems, sensors and automation. For the time it was a highly sophisticated wireless deployment, and being responsible for the system on a day-to-day basis was a crash course in all things RF.”

After roughly 500 “KÀ” shows, however, he returned to Wisconsin to seek new challenges. “Building the show was exciting, and getting into the run was good, but I don’t think I’m the guy that you want to sit there night after night running the same show.”

The Value Of Relationships

For a time, he focused on regional work, first as a design engineer for Arrow AV Group, and then with Link USA and AD Systems as a systems engineer and principal, respectively. He’s continued to work with the latter two firms since joining PWS in 2014, a job that attracted him due to the company’s reputation, longevity, and his personal relationships with founder James Stoffo and general manager Jim Van Winkle.

“When I started in RF, I knew the folks at PWS and I’ve maintained those relationships over the years,” he explains. “It’s really a good team. They care a lot about doing quality work and are known as who you call when you’ve got a difficult RF challenge.”

In the heat of the moment, helping to make sure a global audience of over 100 million hears every performance.

Football remains a passion for Trenda, one that, in addition to the Super Bowl, he indulges in closer to home as a long-time member of the audio staff at Lambeau Field, serving as crew chief on the audio team for Green Bay Packers games. “I worked for the Packers for about 10 years. I don’t work the home games any more, but I’ve had great experiences at Lambeau Field, and I do still work all University of Wisconsin (Madison) home football games as frequency coordinator.”

Beyond the region’s thriving football culture, living in the countryside near the Wisconsin River also provides a welcome respite: “I’m a bit of an outdoors guy. When I was younger I’d do weeklong backpacking trips and go hiking in the Rocky Mountains, and I still enjoy doing that. Near where I live there are a number of state parks where I can get out and go hiking. And spend time with my wife, if she’ll have me,” he adds, laughing. “We’re actually expecting our first child in the summer so that’s something that will become a family affair. For the events I do, you’re often in a theater or a stadium – a lot of being inside – so getting out and away from crowds and going someplace that you can just enjoy some nature and quiet is important.”

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He continues to mix “a handful of shows annually” as well, including a country festival and other concerts, with Lighthouse Productions in Green Bay. “It reminds me of why I got into this business in the first place. Maybe it sounds cliché, but I honestly feel very fortunate to be able to make a living doing something I think is so much fun – something I’d want to be involved with no matter what I did for a living – seeing bands and listening to music.”

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