20 YEARS AGO IN S&VC
Oct 1, 2003 12:00 PM, Mark Johnson
Okay, this time it's personal! The October 1983 issue of Sound & Video Contractor featured on its cover two images of the Tennessee State Amphitheater built for the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The article gave a basic overview of the system, the people who designed it, and the people who installed it. Here's what the article didn't say: a show called Sing Tennessee, written and produced specifically for the World's Fair by Opryland Talent (part of Opryland USA in Nashville), was scheduled to be performed daily in the amphitheater during the run of the fair. By the way, the cover photos and the image in the article are from a rehearsal of that production, and EV also featured that installation in some of its advertisements.
I was working for Opryland USA in 1982 as member of the sound department. Our responsibilities included designing and maintaining the systems used for the various live productions that were featured in the theme park as well as hiring and supervising the people to mix the sound for those productions.
The person hired to mix Sing Tennessee became ill during rehearsals, and I was called in at the 11th hour to finish rehearsals and open the show. I wound up mixing the opening and the first two weeks of production. At that time, the show was one of the largest in size and scale that Opryland Talent had produced, with a cast of 20 singers and dancers and an orchestra of 16 musicians. Upon arrival in Knoxville, I found the orchestra had not yet been miked up. After three frantic days that included miking the orchestra while it was rehearsing, learning the sound cues, and finally running everything, the show opened.
The intro of the article made mention of some railroad tracks; what the article didn't say was those tracks were used regularly and getting the sound for the show over the sound of the passing freight trains was a challenge — or that the initial package of wireless microphones included frequencies that were the same as those being used at the local TV station a few blocks away — or that on the day the show was to open, the then vice president of the United States (the elder George Bush) came with his security force, and their radio system created havoc with my wireless system. For the first performance that evening, thankfully, wireless hits were minimal and the freight train made its appearance at the finale when the show was loudest.
The other thing that makes my 2½ weeks at the 1982 World's Fair remain indelibly etched in my memory is that while I was there, I learned of the impending birth of my first child (who is now in college).
Other items of interest in the issue include the second parts of the feature on Epcot and the microphone primer. Business aspects of system contracting were addressed in articles by George Schaller on direct-mail marketing and collective bargaining agreements by Dale Kirkland. Coverage on security systems focused on monitor and camera control systems. In advertisements Bertagni Electroacoustic Systems was selling its C60S and C60D ceiling speakers. You may remember them — the speaker was the size of an acoustical ceiling panel (about 18 by 24 inches), and it consisted of a large molded piece of a Styrofoam type of material as the primary driver. Now operating under the name of Sound Advance, the company continues to research and develop flat-panel technology for ceiling loudspeaker systems. Aphex appears again in the pages of S&VC, this time with the Aural Exciter Type B. Studer Revox was promoting the B77 MKII, a workhorse machine and the standard for its time. In business news, Studer announced its first U.S. dealer network.
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